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What is Grand Marnier?

Most grades of Grand Marnier are made with cognac.
Grand Marnier originated in France and is still made there.
Orange peel is included in Grand Marnier.
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  • Written By: Brendan McGuigan
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 17 April 2014
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Grand Marnier is a triple sec liqueur invented in 1880 and still produced by the same family in France. The company boasts that it is the most exported liqueur in France, as well as being the first liqueur exported from that country. It is sold in over 150 countries and used in a wide range of drinks and desserts.

Triple secs are liqueurs that are distilled, and then have orange peel left in them to macerate and flavor the alcohol. The first triple sec, Cointreau, was created in France in 1849, and a number of imitators followed. Without a doubt, the most popular of these was Grand Marnier, created by Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle some 30 years later. Oranges at the time were a rare and exotic fruit, and by blending them with high-quality brandies, Marnier-Lapostolle was able to create an enduring legacy.

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The brandy used in all but the lowest grade of Grand Marnier comes from the region of Cognac in France, a place well regarded for its fine liquors. The quality of Cognac used in the liqueur depends on the type, and ranges from lower-end Cognacs to extremely high-grade 50-year-old Cognac. The lowest grade of Grand Marnier is known as Yellow Label, or Cordon Jaune, and is not usually available for sale in the United States. This is not made from Cognac, unlike all other varieties, but is instead made from common grain alcohol. It is rarely used as a drinking alcohol, and is instead used in cooking, such as in the preparation of Crêpes Suzette.

The most common grade of Grand Marnier, and that which most people are acquainted with, is known as Red Label, or Cordon Rouge. Cordon Rouge is made from Cognac, using essentially the same technique as the original Grand Marnier in 1880. Cordon Rouge is often used in cooking, but may also be enjoyed in various mixed drinks or by itself.

The next level of Grand Marnier is the Centennial Edition, or Cuvé du Centenaire, which is made using the same technique as the Red Label, but substituting 25-year-old Cognac for the normal Cognac used. This costs nearly $200 US Dollars (USD) per bottle and is meant to be drunk on its own. At the top of the heap is the Grand Marnier 150, a blend made using the highest-quality 50-year-old Cognac. It costs in excess of 200 USD per bottle and is often very difficult to find — indeed, an advertising campaign for it used the line: "Hard to find, impossible to pronounce, and prohibitively expensive."

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Discuss this Article

anon938214
Post 20

I always used to think is was called Grand Mariner, like the "Rime Of the Ancient Mariner." I never bought it because it was expensive, but I used to see it in the liquor store. Then I met this girl who ordered "Grommooyay" at the bar, and I said, "What the hell is that?" I still didn't know it was triple sec; I thought it was some kind of brandy or cognac or something that fancy yuppy type people drink, whereas I always drank Jim Beam straight from the bottle.

I've heard of triple sec before; it goes in Kamikazis. Vodka, triple sec, and lime. Much easier to drink bourbon, or straight vodka, or everclear and Mad Dog mixed together if you want to get messed up faster. Why waste money on something fancy that isn't even strong? I always went for high alcohol content. That's the purpose of drinking is to get as messed up as possible as quickly as you can, isn't it?

anon325689
Post 19

I haven't tasted Cordon Rouge Grand Marnier since 1958. I distinctly remember a slight hint of cedar in the taste of 1958 GM. Have my taste buds changed that much?

anon211773
Post 18

Previous poster: Do you know anywhere you could find Grand Marnier 500 year anniversary?

The brand was created in 1880. The 100th anniversary was commemorated in 1927 and the 150th in 1983. Give them a few more years to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the brand.

Proof once again that alcohol and math don't mix.

anon194571
Post 17

@ anon13938: of course you can add it with a drink. You will hardly taste the difference with Gordon Rouge in your mix.

anon194568
Post 16

There is nothing wrong with Grand Marnier Gordon Yellow, anon69952.

You can drink it very well and although it hasn't the sophiscication of the Gordon Rouge, it is a very pleasant triple sec.

And by the way, I also use Gordon Rouge for cooking and mixing.

anon90571
Post 14

The fruit that the orange flavor comes from in any Triple Sec style Liquor such as Blue Curacao, Grand Marnier, and Cointreau is the Lajara that is grown in the Curacao islands.

anon69952
Post 13

Don't drink the yellow label -- that's cooking grade only (and typically not available in the US for that reason)!

anon65410
Post 12

Is it ok to replace Grand Marnier with orange juice in a creme patisserie recipe? Thank you

anon51487
Post 11

Is it ok to replace Grand Marnier with orange juice in a tiramasu recipe? Thank you.

anon37530
Post 10

what is the actual name of the orange fruit used to produce the grand marnier?

anon32823
Post 9

When I was in the US Navy in the mid-1970's, I had a friend that developed a savory drink. He had wanted a slightly dry, citrus combination, and named the drink to honor his nautical heritage. Mixing equal portions of Dry Vermouth, Rose's Lime Juice, and Grand Marnier; then he named it a Dry Lime Mariner, capitalizing on the anagram of Marnier. I wish I knew where Chuck Cypher was now.

anon25857
Post 8

I purchased of bottle of Grand Marnier. I have drank this many times but this bottle tasted so 'corky' that it was undrinkable. Has anyone else encountered this problem?

anon14235
Post 7

Do you know anywhere you could find Grand Marnier 500 year anniversary?

anon13938
Post 6

Grand Marnier the yellow one can you drink this.....if we can cook with it can it be added to a drink????????

anon8324
Post 5

can i substitute grand marnier?

Moderator's reply: i'm assuming you're looking for a non alcoholic substitution for grand marnier. some sites say that you can substitute one tablespoon of grand marnier for one tablespoon undiluted orange juice concentrate. you can also use orange extract (use less) or orange juice and orange extract.

anon5746
Post 4

Some people substitute Grand Marnier for Cointreau to do a cosmo, but I prefer the structure, color and taste with Grand Marnier!

Grand Marnier is not listed as a Cognac but as a cordial.

hamptonw
Post 3

Is Grand Marnier officially listed as a Cognac?

anon4753
Post 2

Is Grand Marnier officially listed as a Cognac?

anon2125
Post 1

Can I substitute Grand Marnier for Cointreau in a Cosmopolitan recipe?

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