First produced in 1880, with its roots reaching a further 50 years back, Grand Marnier has become synonymous with high quality, eloquence and refinement, not only in its homeland but around the world.
The history of Grand Marnier began in 1827, when a distillery specializing in fruit liqueurs was founded by Jean-Baptiste Lapostolle in the Neauphle-le-Château region of France. While it became well known in the region for the quality of its products, it was not until the 1870s when Louis Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle joined the family through marriage and saw the potential of blending cognac and oranges.
The liqueur was a combination of two exclusive goods in 1880s society, with oranges being a luxury item at the time and cognac holding the same appeal and status as it has today. It took ten years to perfect the combination of cognac and oranges, and perfection was only achieved when the distillery took its goal of extreme quality one step further, sourcing an rare variety of orange, Citrus Bigardia, from the Caribbean for use in the drink.
The exact combination of orange, cognac and other ingredients used in the liqueur is a closely gaurded secret, and to this day only a handful of family members know the entire recipe - and they are not permitted to travel in groups.
Louis-Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle gained the inspiration for the name of Grand Marnier from his friend, and famous hotelier Cesar Ritz who commented after tasting Grand Marnier for the first time:
Grand Marnier: A grand name for a grand drink
The packaging used in the first bottling of Grand Marnier, which is identical to the one used to this day consisted of a bottle designed to represent the stills used in cognac production in the region and the distinctive red ribbon, which was chosen to enhance the brand's perception of refinement.
Initially, Grand Marnier was known not only for its exquisite quality, but also for the people who drank it. Not only did Cesar Ritz partake in a frequent snifter of the liqueur, so did the Prince of Wales, who would in the future become King Edward VII.
Grand Marnier was an immediate success, with its popularity spreading rapidly throughout Europe. It took only four years until Grand Marnier's quality was recognised, winning the Grand Prix at the international Exposition of Nice. The win would be only one of many that the brand would receive over its long history.
The appeal of using Grand Marnier in cooking rapidly grew throughout France, the Crêpe Suzette and Grand Marnier soufflé rising to international acclaim in culinary circles, and both dishes continue to be extremely popular, and famous, to this day. The liqueur has also found use in a variety of other pastries and cakes.
The increase in popularity of the liqueur was also helped in the 1930s by the United States fascination with cocktails, causing many to use Grand Marnier as a key ingredient. Some popular examples being the margarita and red lion.
Unlike many liquor producers, Grand Marnier has maintained its status as family owned. To celebrate this and its founding, in 1927, the 100th year since the distillery was founded, the family released Cuvée du Centenaire. This was repeated in 1977 with the release of Cuvée Speciale Cent Cinquantenaire - celebrating 150 years of the family's business.
Inspired by Grand Marnier's success, the distillery introduced Navan in the 1990s. The liqueur was a combination of black vanilla from Madagascar with cognac, and while not reaching the level of success of Grand Marnier, has established itself on the global liquor stage.
To this day, Grand Marnier has maintained its reputation from quality, authenticity and style and it is this reputation that has caused the brand to be the most widely exported French liqueur, being available in over 150 countries.
- Cordon Rouge
- Cordon Jaune
- Cuvée du Centenaire
- Cuvée Speciale Cent Cinquantenaire
- Cuvée Louis-Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle