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slkinsey

All About Orange Liqueurs

117 posts in this topic

I was thinking about Curacao based on some discussion over at the DrinkBoy MSN forums.

Then, a friend asked to borrow some Orange Curacao so he could try to make himself a Mai Tai.  Of course, one of the most famous uses of Curacao is Trader Vic's Mai Tai.

To the best of my knowledge, however, Vic always recommended DeKuyper, (or another Dutch Curacao,) based on neutral spirits, rather than the ones blended with brandy, like Brizard or Grand Marnier.

Were the original Curacaos then orange macerations, probably based on rum, like the Creole Shrubb liqueur?  Then when the europeans got ahold of them, they started distilling the peels, and it evolved into the more sophisticated liqueurs like Cointreau and Grand Marnier.

In reproducing older recipes, what is the best thing to look for in a Curacao?  Is its function mostly for sweetness?  If so, then why is it so often used in combination with gum syrup?  Or is it also there for the bitter orange kick you'd get from a macerated liqueur?

i still firmly believe that creole shrub is the only orange liqueur worth mixing... but there are still lots of questions to answer to seperate it from other similar products... do you lose a bitter quality when the orange peels are distilled like in cointreau? both options have incredible amounts of sugar... any type of bitter quality would seem like a huge asset at those levels... also wouldn't a fortifying option with more character be more fun? i love the flavor and the rustic appeal of the shrub. i don't exactly know what the added effort of distilling the liqueur does but my limited experience makes distilled options seem over engineered...

i think i should submit myself to a blind taste test and see which one i prefer... and then follow it up with a blind pegu club cocktail test just to make sure...


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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What do you folks think about the Prunier Liqueur d'Orange?

The money quote from the linked LA Times article:

Prunier La Lieutenance Liqueur d'Orange. Not only does this make a great gift, but tasting it side by side with Grand Marnier and Cointreau makes it clear that it's time to rethink one's house orange liqueur. A beautiful burnished orange color, the Prunier La Lieutenance has candied orange peel scents and a deep flavor that's a bit more sophisticated and less sweet than the big two. A natural for mixing in cocktails, it's also terrific to sip on its own.

I picked up a bottle just before Christmas, and have tried it in a couple of cocktails that usually call for Cointreau. I'm making what I'm now calling the Corpse Reviver 2 1/2, swapping out the Prunier for the Cointreau, and Cocchi Aperitivo Americano for the Lillet. Fabulous.


Edited by jmfangio (log)

"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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[...]
Prunier La Lieutenance Liqueur d'Orange. Not only does this make a great gift, but tasting it side by side with Grand Marnier and Cointreau makes it clear that it's time to rethink one's house orange liqueur. A beautiful burnished orange color, the Prunier La Lieutenance has candied orange peel scents and a deep flavor that's a bit more sophisticated and less sweet than the big two. A natural for mixing in cocktails, it's also terrific to sip on its own.

[...]

Well, it is a nice selection of liqueurs and amaros in the article, (including my personal hobby horse Cocchi Americano,) and hard to argue with their opinions about most of the ones I have tried.

Though, to me, pushing the VEP Chartreuse offerings is more about conspicuous consumption than anything else. Has a rap song been written about them yet?

In regards the prunier, I have heard the, "it's time to rethink one's house orange liqueur," line so many times and have been disappointed so many times, that I would only really be willing to pony up for yet another bottle of orange liqueur if I tried the Prunier first before buying it.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Would you take a second opinion?

I'm a huge fan of the Prunier, and it has become my go-to orange liqueur ever since I picked up a 375ml at LeNell's. Similar flavor notes to GM, but ratcheted way down on the sweetness and has a bit more of the slightly bitter post-tannic quality I've noted in some cognacs.


Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"

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Though, to me, pushing the VEP Chartreuse offerings is more about conspicuous consumption than anything else.  Has a rap song been written about them yet?

No, but PDT in New York has a new "high roller" menu featuring a Last Word that uses the VEP!

[Edited for clarity.]


Edited by Mayur (log)

Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"

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One of the things that has always bugged me about Senior's Curacao of Curacao, is their spurious claims to be the "authentic" curacao liqueur. I love their liqueur, but it seems to me their claims to be the "authentic" or "original" Orange Curacao just pretty silly.

It is true that they are the only liqueur distillery on the Island of Curacao.

However, it appears, from their website or another, that the company wasn't even founded until some time in the mid 1800s and both Cointreau and Grand Marnier were making their eponymous products by that time.

Anyway, so I asked Philip Duff, who has a relationship with Bols, how long he thought that company had been making Curacao.

His response:

I just got off the phone with Ton, who confirmed Bols were making curacao already in the 1600s, and there's an original recipe book, from Bols, from 1726 on display in the House of Bols in Amsterdam with curacao recipes. So, for the details guys at least since 1726, but realistically a lot, lot earlier...

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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One of the things that has always bugged me about Senior's Curacao of Curacao, is their spurious claims to be the "authentic" curacao liqueur.  I love their liqueur, but it seems to me their claims to be the "authentic" or "original" Orange Curacao just pretty silly.

It is true that they are the only liqueur distillery on the Island of Curacao.

However, it appears, from their website or another, that the company wasn't even founded until some time in the mid 1800s and both Cointreau and Grand Marnier were making their eponymous products by that time.

Anyway, so I asked Philip Duff, who has a relationship with Bols, how long he thought that company had been making Curacao.

His response:

I just got off the phone with Ton, who confirmed Bols were making curacao already in the 1600s, and there's an original recipe book, from Bols, from 1726 on display in the House of Bols in Amsterdam with curacao recipes. So, for the details guys at least since 1726, but realistically a lot, lot earlier...

Ahh, marketing. I use Senior Curacao of Curacao because it's the only one I've been able to find that isn't blue (besides Grand Marnier, but that's a lot more expensive). I suspect that the only reason they even carry it where I buy it is because it comes in a fancy-looking bottle, has a long pompous name, and perhaps because it has pretensions to originality.

It's a good liqueur though. I'm glad its available and I'm not sure it would be without all the marketing bells and whistles.


nunc est bibendum...

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One of the things that has always bugged me about Senior's Curacao of Curacao, is their spurious claims to be the "authentic" curacao liqueur.  I love their liqueur, but it seems to me their claims to be the "authentic" or "original" Orange Curacao just pretty silly.

It is true that they are the only liqueur distillery on the Island of Curacao.

However, it appears, from their website or another, that the company wasn't even founded until some time in the mid 1800s and both Cointreau and Grand Marnier were making their eponymous products by that time.

Anyway, so I asked Philip Duff, who has a relationship with Bols, how long he thought that company had been making Curacao.

His response:

I just got off the phone with Ton, who confirmed Bols were making curacao already in the 1600s, and there's an original recipe book, from Bols, from 1726 on display in the House of Bols in Amsterdam with curacao recipes. So, for the details guys at least since 1726, but realistically a lot, lot earlier...

I wonder at what point the beverage in question began to resemble something we would recognise though...surely it would have changed a bit over 400 years. I'll certainly give credit to Bols and all but I'd be shocked if you could make a palatable Sidecar or Mai Tai with 17th century versions of orange liqueur.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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[...]

I wonder at what point the beverage in question began to resemble something we would recognise though...surely it would have changed a bit over 400 years. I'll certainly give credit to Bols and all but I'd be shocked if you could make a palatable Sidecar or Mai Tai with 17th century versions of orange liqueur.

To be honest, I don't think either distilling or the traditional recipes used for these liqueurs have changed that much. I've seen some 18th and 19th century disiller's manuals. Following the procedures in those books, I suspect you'd come up with something at least as palatable as modern Cointreau or Curacao, if not better.

Here's a better question, what do you think the distillers of the 17th, 18th, or 19th century would say about the vast majority of the products currently sold under the name Curacao or Triple Sec?


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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i just saw an old bottle of mexican "citronge" orange liqueur in a liquor store... the label looked old and had no mention of patron. the bottom of the bottle formed in glass said something like "made in mexico city". so did "citronge" exist pre patron?


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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In my home bar, what orange flavored liquor(s) should i have on hand...

they get ubiquitously substituted at our home, with Cointreau being our staple (currently Patron Citronage finishing up a stand-in appearance). We use them for many different concotions, both tiki and traditional, plus a few of my own experiments...

Do I need...

a Curacao?

a Brandy/Cognac based, eg Gran Marnier?

and a triple Sec (cheapo or Cointreau, etc?)

if so, what brands of each do you like and why?

thanks in advance

SB


Edited by shantytownbrown (log)

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If you have Cointreau and Grand Marnier, you're set.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I'm not really sure anyone needs Grand Marnier, unless they are inordinately fond of B-52s and the like, but it doesn't hurt to have it.

Remember, any Tiki Type recipe is likely calling for something like the DeKuyper or Bols Curacao, which are neutral spirits based.

In regards 19th Century drink making, I was reading through the Mud Puddle re-release of the 1862 The Bartender's Guide: How to Mix Drinks: A Bon Vivant's Companion and came across recipe 188 in the first section (not Christian Schultz) section of the book:

188. English Curacao

Cut away the peel of oranges very thin, until you have obtained half a dozen ounces of it; put these into a quart bottle, and then pour in a pint of genuine whiskey.  Cork the bottle down tightly, and let the rind remain infused for ten or twelve days, giving the bottle a good shake as often as you have an opportunity for so doing; at the end of this period, take out the orange peel, and fill the bottle with clarified syrup, shake it well with the spirit, and let it remain for three days.  Pour a teacupfull of the liqueur into a mortar, and beat up a drachm of powdered alum and an equal quantity of carbonate of potash; pour this, when well mixed, into the bottle, shake it well, and in a week you will find the Curacoa perfectly transparent, and equal in flavor to that imported from Malines, or any other place in the universe.

Any insight into the function of alum and potash? Is that just to clarify and preserve?


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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If you have Cointreau and Grand Marnier, you're set.

any opinions on Cointreau vs Patron Citronage?

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Cointreau is better.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Cointreau is better.

'nuff said!

i thought so too..Citronage has a bit of a bite to it that i just cant place...almost done with it...cointreau on the next purchase...

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Grand Marnier, Cointreau, etc.... which one for what?

Honestly, i don't think that there is a better one, but for those who think that Grand Marnier is a waste of money, or only good for B52, I disagree.

Let's take the example of the Side Car. It's a simple recipe, but quite difficult to balance. I like this one which is easy and cheap to make (if you consider that you don't need to buy cognac):

75 ml Grand Marnier

Between 30 - 35 ml Fresh Lemon Juice depending to your taste

Just shake hard and strain

I've done a few blind tasting using different brands of cognacs, orange liqueurs & specs, to check which one people preferred. That recipe didn't do that bad at all.

Cheers

Mick


Cheers

www.BarNowOn.com

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Grand Marnier, Cointreau, etc.... which one for what?

Honestly, i don't think that there is a better one, but for those who think that Grand Marnier is a waste of money, or only good for B52, I disagree.

Let's take the example of the Side Car. It's a simple recipe, but quite difficult to balance. I like this one which is easy and cheap to make (if you consider that you don't need to buy cognac):

75 ml Grand Marnier

Between 30 - 35 ml Fresh Lemon Juice depending to your taste

Just shake hard and strain

I've done a few blind tasting using different brands of cognacs, orange liqueurs & specs, to check which one people preferred. That recipe didn't do that bad at all.

Cheers

Mick

I'm not sure this quite qualifies as a Sidecar, tasty though it may be.

Also, I will have to take issue with the notion that Grand Marnier is not a versatile liqueur. Maybe not so much as Cointreau, but how does anyone make it through Imbibe! without it? I have both it and Brizard Curacao and I like them both but for me, Grand Marnier can't be beat in those old drinks. For something Tiki-ish I think you can go either way, depending on how rich of a flavor is desired. Just because the original recipe intends a lighter and more neutral flavored Curacao doesn't mean that a heavier one like Grand Marnier isn't more desireable (at least for some).


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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That was my thinking.

Cointreau sets the standard for triple sec. Period.

And I think Grand Marnier is the best curacao. If I'm only going to have one curacao, I'd rather have Grand Marnier than Marie Brizard. That said, I do think there is some logic behind having two curacao liqueurs: Grand Marnier and Marie Brizard.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I'm not really sure anyone needs Grand Marnier, unless they are inordinately fond of B-52s and the like, but it doesn't hurt to have it.
I like to drink GM straight up. Does that mean I have to give back my membership card? :raz::smile:

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[...]

Also, I will have to take issue with the notion that Grand Marnier is not a versatile liqueur. Maybe not so much as Cointreau, but how does anyone make it through Imbibe! without it? I have both it and Brizard Curacao and I like them both but for me, Grand Marnier can't be beat in those old drinks. For something Tiki-ish I think you can go either way, depending on how rich of a flavor is desired. Just because the original recipe intends a lighter and more neutral flavored Curacao doesn't mean that a heavier one like Grand Marnier isn't more desireable (at least for some).

The point of reproducing the recipe from Jerry Thomas was to point out that it is pretty unlikely that anyone in America was using anything like Grand Marnier as Curacao. And the region called Malines is in Holland, so using a Dutch Curacao seems more authentic than a French one.

Lovely though Grand Marnier may be, I really don't think it has any real claim as an authentic Curacao for American recipes from the 19th Century.

And we know that Trader Vic created the Mai Tai with DeKuyper Curacao. So again, Dutch Curacao is what we're looking for here.

It's just too bad that most of the Dutch brands available in the US currently are so mediocre.

Personally, I still think the best option for Orange Curacao is Luxardo Triplum. It's about the only one of the bunch with both the sweetness and orange intensity to be worth using in "dash" quantities.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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So if my only options for curacao are Grand Marnier and Brizard (or Bols) blue curacao, which am I better off with? The blue stuff will make everything look funky, but is the flavour any different?


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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So if my only options for curacao are Grand Marnier and Brizard (or Bols) blue curacao, which am I better off with? The blue stuff will make everything look funky, but is the flavour any different?

Don't you have the Giffard products available up there in Canada? Hmm, I guess not in Ontario.

There is something called Bols Red Orange Curacao, whatever that is, available in limited quantities...

I guess I'd just use Cointreau or Grand Marnier.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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The point of reproducing the recipe from Jerry Thomas was to point out that it is pretty unlikely that anyone in America was using anything like Grand Marnier as Curacao.  And the region called Malines is in Holland, so using a Dutch Curacao seems more authentic than a French one.

I'm not sure I believe that there is a great deal to be gained from trying to base one's general-purpose curaçao choice on an idea of what a commonly-used curaçao might have been like in the middle of the 19th century. . . even if one is attempting to faithfully execute 19th century cocktails.

A brief swing through the online JT reveals that few of these drinks called for more than "1 - 2 dashes" of the stuff, which would amount to perhaps a half-teaspoon. Since I'm not sure if the choice between Grand Marnier and Bols would be enough to make much of a difference, I don't suppose there is any reason not to go with the superior product -- and I don't think it's particularly debatable that Grand Marnier is the superior product of its class.

Of course, if one is trying to reproduce Brandy Cocktail dating to circa 1870, and has been able to source 100 proof pre-phylloxera Cognac and Boker's bitters (or reasonably accurate facsimiles thereof), then some search for an acceptably "period reproduction" curaçao might be in order. Likewise, if one is able to source the various aged rums used by Trader Vic, or reasonable facsimiles, then there might be some point in attempting to get some of the DeKuyper curaçao he was using (provided that today's DeKuyper curaçao is anything like the product Trader Vic was using). But if one is using modern-day 80 proof Courvoisier VS in that Brandy Cocktail, and perhaps balancing it for a dryer modern palate, or various non-original rums in that Mai Tai, then the case for eschewing Grand Marnier in favor of Bols or whatever on some kind of historical authenticity basis becomes considerably less strong -- especially when one considers that Grand Marnier is, on the whole, a significanrly superior product. Now... if we could get real Bols curaçao here in the states, I might feel differently.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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The point of reproducing the recipe from Jerry Thomas was to point out that it is pretty unlikely that anyone in America was using anything like Grand Marnier as Curacao.  And the region called Malines is in Holland, so using a Dutch Curacao seems more authentic than a French one.

Lovely though Grand Marnier may be, I really don't think it has any real claim as an authentic Curacao for American recipes from the 19th Century.

But isn't the Jerry Thomas recipe an infused curacao based on pot-distilled spirit? Like, in other words, Grand Marnier?

Sure, his recipe calls for Scotch, but that's why it's "English curacao," in the same way there was "English brandy" (an ersatz version of the French original based on grain spirit and flavorings that didn't survive the 19th century) and "English gin" (an ersatz version of the Dutch original based on neutral spirit and flavorings that went on to rule the world).

Many of the Dutch curacaos were based on brandy. The Netherlands imported vast amounts of French wines and grape distillates for liqueur-making, just like they imported vast amounts of Hanseatic barley and rye for genever-making.

There are essentially two kinds of curacao: the old-fashioned one, based on pot distilled spirits that are then infused with orange and sweetened, and the slightly less old-fashioned one, based on column-distilled spirits that are redistilled with orange and then sweetened.

Both were certainly in use in the 19th century, and both certainly have their uses now. And those uses are not coterminous.


aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

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