Over 150 years ago, brothers in Angers, France founded a distillery utilizing the local fruits. Edouard-Jean and his brother Adolphe Cointreau had founded a brand new spirit, and immediate success.
Edouard, son of Edouard-Jean, later discovered that people were losing their passion for opaque liqueurs in fancy bottles. He set out to create a crystal clear liqueur, utilizing sweet and bitter orange peels from the farthest reaches of the earth.
The resultant liqueur became a world wide legend. Today, the authentic recipe, 150 year history, and worldwide availability make it one of the most famous of clear spirits.
Remaining unique since its creation, the secret recipe that is Cointreau has been passed down from generation to generation. Edouard's sons, Louis and Andre, traveled to the furthest reaches of the world to spread the joy that is Cointreau. With offices in Berlin, Poland, Spain, and Brussels they were able to bring their creation to over 200 countries. Today, more than 13 million bottles of Cointreau are sold world wide. It is considered to be an elite liqueur, sold in the best establishments.
Edouard-Jean chose a distinctive packaging for his crystal clear liqueur. A square bottle, with rounded corners, amber in color, and tied with a red ribbon, it remains, today, the unmistakable recognizable logo of Cointreau.
The secret recipe of Cointreau remains its unique strength. A subtle blend of bitter and sweet oranges, it is considered to be a multi-sensory taste experience. Smooth, with a warming sensation, there is a hint of oranges left in the afterglow of taste. The oranges, grown still by the Cointreau family in the Caribbean, are known as Bigarade (citrus aurentium). They are harvested not quite ripe, while the strongest aroma still exists. The peel is separated from the pulp by hand, dried in the sun until a bronze/green in color. They are then carefully sorted. Peels from the sweet Comuna, Cadanera, Salustiana (from Spain) and the Pera (from Brazil) oranges are also used in the process.
The peels are then shipped to the distillery in Angers, where they are macerated in alcohol for several weeks to bring out the distinct aromas. To avoid any unpleasant bitterness, only the most natural alcohol and purest water are used for this process.
Each year, the Master Distiller at Cointreau is responsible for adjusting the process to retain the balance according to the harvest. He does this utilizing 12 stills made of red copper. The resultant extraction retains only the most aromatic components. Once this process is completed, the distiller tests for the proper clarity. If the liqueur turns opalescent when poured over ice, it confirms that the proper essential oils exist.
Cointreau is 40% alcohol by volume, and is served over ice, neat, or as a part of cocktails.
Information above was gathered in part at the following website: http://www.cointreau.com/