August 11, 2006

Cointreau vs. Grand Marnier Knife Fight

by peterb

In preparation for an article on making a decent Margarita, I picked up a bottle of Cointreau (pronounced [kwan'-tro]). Since I can talk about booze for hours on end, let's divert from the Margarita discussion to talk about orange flavored liqueurs.

I had actually never tasted Cointreau "bare" before, whereas Grand Marnier is an old favorite of mine. It was interesting. For drinking neat, the Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge wins hands down: it's silkier, and has more body, and the cognac base gives it a more complex flavor.

These same factors, however, make Cointreau the better mixer. Cointreau has a bitter orange bite that is missing from its wealthier, more attractive cousin. It's harsher, but that makes it stand up better to being in a mixed drink. I've been at various bars that offer a top-shelf margarita by using Grand Marnier, but this seems to me to be a bad deal for both the mixed drink and the liqueur.

Cointreau bills itself as "the original triple sec," but most of the products you can buy that call themselves "triple sec" are undrinkable and unmixable (yes, Jacquins, I'm looking at you — how does that company stay in business?).

There's only one type of Cointreau. Grand Marnier comes in a number of variations, from the difficult-to-get-in-the-US-but-that's-OK-because-it's-not-very-good Cordon Jaune up to marketed-to-yuppie-philistines Grand Marnier Cuvée Speciale Cent Cinquantenaire. (Actual quote from the owner of the ad agency promoting this $220 booze: "The more obscure and more expensive, the harder it is to find, the better it is." I guess it's nice to know that money doesn't buy brains.)

Coming soon: tequila, the gentrification of liquors, and Margaritas as a serious drink instead of as slurpees for stupid drunk sorority chicks and frat boys.

Posted by peterb at August 11, 2006 07:58 AM | Bookmark This

> frat boys

Hey! I resemble that remark.

But more to the point, there's not a frat boy in existence that drinks margaritas outside of Spring Break in Cancun. At least, back when frat boys were boys.

Posted by Dr. Click at August 11, 2006 03:54 PM

That's a pretty broad statement, and clearly excludes colleges and universities from Texas on west to California. In Texas, New Mexico and Arizona at least, everyone, everyone, drinks margaritas year round. It's easy to find good ones, too.

The slurpee form of margarita has it's place. That place is a deck overlooking a lake in Austin, with the scenery mentioned above. You might disagree, but sometimes a boozy slurpee is the best thing you can drink.

Posted by Will C at August 11, 2006 08:31 PM

All right, now I want a margarita! Teach me how to make one peter! Petron, Reposada, or Anejo? All I've got in Reposada. I have ice. I have a large mug, that will do right? What else? I'm skipping the salt. I hate the salt. Why do they always spoil my margarita by putting salt on the glass?


Posted by Doug at August 11, 2006 09:37 PM

I don't want to ruin my upcoming article by spelling it all out here, but I can answer at least one question:

they put the salt on the glass to hide the fact that they're using crappy tequila.

Posted by peterb at August 11, 2006 09:57 PM


Tip for them. It doesn't work.

Posted by Doug at August 11, 2006 10:30 PM

Ooh, now you have to go and get a bottle of Mexican Controy and let me know if it's really different. I heard it was better, and I actually have a bottle I use in margaritas, but I haven't done the head-to-head test....

I'm a fan of Sauza Hornitos myself. It tastes funny.

Posted by erink (no relation) at August 30, 2006 07:13 PM

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