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Cointreau is a French brand of triple sec liqueur, produced from the dried peel of both sweet and bitter oranges. Around 13 million bottles of Cointreau are sold each year, with just ten per cent staying in France and the rest exported to 150 countries around the world.

However, it was Edouard-Jean’s son, Edouard, who made a major breakthrough when, in 1875, he distilled a blend of sweet and bitter orange peels with pure alcohol from sugar beets. The spirit’s highly crystalline nature was novel for the time and, by the early 1900s, an impressive 800,000 bottles of Cointreau were selling each year. The business soon opened branches around Europe, with sales reaching both North and Latin Americas in the 1920s.

Cointreau is a family business, founded in 1849 by brothers Adolphe and Edouard-Jean Cointreau, who were master confectioners and entrepreneurs in the Angers suburb of Saint-Barthélemy-d’Anjou. Intent on producing spirits using local fruits, the young men first enjoyed commercial success with a wild cherry liqueur, known in France as guignolet.

It was Edouard who designed the square, ambercoloured bottle that carries Cointreau to this day. And his inventive spirit seems to have been inherited by his two sons, André and Louis, who later came up with the concept of “the worldwide brand”, a slogan that was used on some of Cointreau’s early poster campaigns across the globe. The somewhat daring claim evidently paid off as, in the 1960s, a certain James Bond deemed the drink fit to endorse in its TV ads. In 1989, Cointreau merged with the fine champagne cognac company, Rémy Martin, and the new business was listed on the Paris stock exchange.

Paris Angers


FRANCE Edouard-Jean Cointreau, one of two brothers who founded this iconic French company



The secret Cointreau family recipe hasn’t much changed in 150 years and is as tightly guarded as ever. While today you can visit the Cointreau distillery, you’re not allowed to photograph any rooms showing key production methods.

Cointreau can be served as a digestif either neat or on ice. But, more often than not, it forms the crucial ingredient in various old and new cocktails.

The oranges are sourced mainly from Spain, Brazil and Saint-Raphaël in Haiti, taking a mix of different coloured skins for a spectrum of flavours – from the bitter notes of the greenish-bronze skins, through to the much sweeter flavours of the orangey-red peel. The peels are sun dried, macerated and then distilled into a clear spirit using copper stills. This process extracts the essential oils that later combine with white flowers, fruits and spices to give Cointreau its characteristically heady scent.


Margarita, so the story goes, was first concocted in 1948 by a wealthy Dallas socialite called Margarita Sames, while holidaying in Acapulco, Mexico. Tired of the usual drinks repertoire, she wanted a refreshing poolside aperitif made with her two favourite tipples: tequila and Cointreau. COSMOPOLITAN

Cosmopolitan is a rather more modern invention, thought to have arrived in San Francisco in the late 1980s, though it was arguably created elsewhere around ten years earlier. It contains vodka (or lemon vodka), Cointreau, cranberry juice and lime.

COINTREAU BOMBE Orange liqueur ganache Anyone who remembers those 1970s advertisements featuring a suave French ‘love rat’ will almost certainly have a soft spot for the equally suave Cointreau. And this recipe is a real smoothie too, sure to win you over with silky soft and mellow sticky toffee that has been laced with a generous amount of Cointreau, paired with a creamy white chocolate shell. Chocolatier: K Kalenko


Above – you can visit the distillery today and see the copper stills Right – the original distillery in Angers

Cointreau has always played on their French heritage, indeed, many will remember the iconic advertisements of the 1990s, when a typically English woman meets a typically French man at a party – the ice of an English woman meets the warmth of French Cointreau and “the ice melts”.

© The Chocolate Tasting Club plc 2012 Mint House Royston Hertfordshire SG8 5HL UK Tel: 08444 933 933 Fax: 08444 937 590 Website: Images on pages 2-5 courtesy of Wikipedia



Grey Goose is a premium brand of vodka, produced in France but marketed firmly in America.

Grey Goose is made from fine winter wheat sourced in the Picardy ‘bread basket’ region of northern France. The wheat is certified as ‘class 1 blé panifiable supérieur’ (superior bread-making wheat), deemed good enough to make French baguettes and pastries.

Its immense commercial success since 1997 has been credited as inspiring the launch of other highend vodkas, although Grey Goose was itself roused by the rival Polish brand Belvedere, born in 1996. Grey Goose was designed by Sidney Frank, a selfmade billionaire from Connecticut, who’d previously succeeded in transforming the speciality liqueur Jägermeister into a mainstream product. He boldly took the Grey Goose concept and promoted it so triumphantly that, just seven years later, he sold the brand to Bacardi for a cool $2.2 million, the largest ever figure for a single drinks label. Mr Frank went with the notion that French manufacturing carries weight in perceived high quality of luxury goods. So he sent a team to Europe and the rest is a record-breaking fifteen years of marketing history.

The spirit is distilled using a custom designed system featuring five column stills, then it is transported to Grey Goose’s Gensac facility in the Cognac region of the Loire Valley. This is where blending, filtration and bottling (with a replaceable cork) take place. The vodka is blended with pure spring water that’s been naturally filtered through Grande Champagne limestone and is sourced using an artesian well, which draws the water from an aquifer so that it’s not touched by human hands or pollutants. Everyday, the vodka goes through 500 different quality control tests. After blending, the vodka is passed through a carbon and cellulose filter for final polishing and smoothing. Finally it’s tested by the maître de chai (cellar master) and his panel of tasting experts.


Loire Valley



Above – Grey Goose creator, Sidney Frank. Right – special bakerygrade wheat is used in its production



There are five variants of Grey Goose vodka: Original, Cherry Noir, La Poire, L’Orange and Le Citron.


The original is clear and fresh with an elegant floral aroma accented by subtle citrus notes. At first soft on the palate, it has a smooth and round texture that envelops the mouth. The taste is buttery sweet with a hint of almond; the finish is satisfyingly long, bright and fresh.

A festive aperitif, Cape Fizz contains one and a half parts Grey Goose Original, two parts club soda, two parts cranberry juice, half part syrup and quarter part lime juice. Pour into a glass filled with ice and garnish with lime. ANJOU GEM

Anjou Gem mixes one and a half parts Grey Goose La Poire with two parts grapefruit juice and half parts lemon juice and syrup. Shake with ice, strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a grapefruit slice. BASIL WATERMELON COOLER

For an easy daytime drink, take two parts Grey Goose Original and half parts fresh lime juice and syrup. Add to a cocktail shaker containing four basil leaves, a slice of peeled ginger and two chunks of watermelon, all muddled together. Shake and strain over ice and top with ginger ale.

Spring water filtered through Grande Champagne limestone is one of Grey Goose’s secrets

GREY GOOSE TRUFFLE Vodka truffle The rise of super premium vodkas has been a fairly recent phenomenon, with a few brands now dominating a market that hardly existed before the late 1990s! Grey Goose is one of those vodkas, known for its premium ingredients, like spring water and fi ne baking-grade wheat, which give it a floral aroma and delicate flavours – which is why we’ve kept this recipe simple, blending a good splash into a milk ganache. Chocolatier: R Macfadyen

© The Chocolate Tasting Club plc 2012 Mint House Royston Hertfordshire SG8 5HL UK Tel: 08444 933 933 Fax: 08444 937 590 Website: Images on pages 2-5 courtesy of Wikipedia



A British summer’s day, tennis on the lawn, cricket on the green, barbecue in the garden… these scenes all conjure up one striking drink – Pimm’s.

The Pimm’s drink was born in 1823 in a London oyster bar, owned by shellfish-monger James Pimm. Traditionally, oysters had been knocked back with shots of gin, but Mr Pimm wanted patrons to savour their seafood. So he created a longer, more palatable drink – his house ‘cup’ of blended fruit extracts and liqueurs.

Indeed, Pimm’s is most popular in the south of England, where it has become a staple at prestigious events such as Wimbledon and Henley Royal Regatta, as well as outdoor operas and polo matches. The first Pimm’s Bar opened at Wimbledon’s 1971 tennis tournament and, today, more than 80,000 pints of Pimm’s and lemonade are sold every year to spectators.

The so-called Pimm’s No.1 Cup was an instant hit, and Pimm bought up other bars and restaurants in some of the most esteemed parts of the City. He blended his gin-based liqueur on the premises in 1851, large-scale production took off and, by 1859, Pimm was using hawkers on bicycles to supply establishments other than his own. In 1865, Mr Pimm sold up to a Frederick Sawyer. Ten years later, the company was sold to the MP and future Lord Mayor of London, Sir Horatio Davies, who led the company to commercial success throughout the British Empire. Thus what began life as a City institution quickly became known as a British one. The First World War saw Pimm’s sales rocket, as it proved a great morale booster for forces in Europe. Expansion continued until the 1960s, but profits then fell during the 1970s and 1980s. The 1990s picked up and, in 2005, Pimm’s introduced its new-concept Winter Cup. In 2006, Pimm’s was bought by the global drinks giant Diageo.


Pimm’s has become synonymous with such great British occasions as Wimbledon (above) and the Henley Regatta (right)

Pimm’s was first created to be drunk with shellfish at James Pimm’s London restaurant

THE RECIPES Pimm’s No. 1 Cup was created as a tonic to ease digestion. It contained gin, quinine and a secret mixture of herbs. As the Pimm’s empire grew, so did its drinks range, though only Nos. 1 and 3 and the Winter Cup are still in production today. 1823 Pimm’s No. 1 Cup (gin) – 1851 Pimm’s No. 2 Cup (scotch whisky); Pimm’s No. 3 Cup (brandy) – 1945-50 Pimm’s No. 4 Cup (rum) – 1960s Pimm’s No. 5 Cup (rye whisky); Pimm’s No. 6 Cup (vodka) – 2005 Pimm’s Winter Cup (brandy infused with spices and orange peel).

THE DRINK Pimm’s No. 1 Cup is a dark reddish tea-coloured liqueur with hints of spice and citrus. It can be served on ice but is more commonly enjoyed in cocktails, often served in jugs for large numbers of guests. Most popular is the Pimm’s Original, which is one part Pimm’s mixed with three parts lemonade. You then throw in some chopped mint, orange, apple, cucumber and strawberry, and add ice. Ginger ale (with a lemon twist) can be used instead of lemonade. Or, for a really special event, champagne or cava (with a lone strawberry in a flute) gives you Pimm’s Royale.

A VERY BRITISH SENSE OF HUMOUR In the 1990s, Pimm’s aired a memorable TV ad campaign to the soundtrack of Gershwin’s smash hit Summertime, showing Pimm’s being seductively enjoyed in a typical British summer of torrential rain. In 2003, the brand again played on its selfdeprecating British roots, with a celebrity-led campaign featuring laughable toff, Harry FitzgibbonSims, ever eager to announce that it’s “Pimm’s o’clock” no matter the time of day or occasion. The latest and equally self-mocking campaign, in 2010, showed different characters representing the components of the Pimm’s Original cocktail to the theme tune of cult TV hit The New Avengers.

Alexander Armstrong (left) starred in a successful series of quirky Pimm’s advertisements

PIMM’S GIN SLING Fruity gin ganache Picture yourself sipping a long cocktail on an impeccably groomed lawn in the glorious sunshine of an early evening during a perfect summer – well we can but dream! This recipe, however, will help take you there, inspired by the quintessentially British Pimm’s. It’s a fruity ‘sling’ with a dash of gin, the refreshing fruity botanicals of Pimm’s and a hint of zesty Valencia orange. Chocolatier: R Macfadyen

© The Chocolate Tasting Club plc 2012 Mint House Royston Hertfordshire SG8 5HL UK Tel: 08444 933 933 Fax: 08444 937 590 Website: Images on pages 2-5 courtesy of Wikipedia



St-Rémy is the world’s number one French brandy, having conquered markets as varied as Canada, Vietnam, Finland and Nigeria. Its essence has remained unchanged for over a century, making it the best-selling brandy on five continents and winning as many as 16 prestigious medals in the last six years alone.

The original St-Rémy distillery was set up in 1886 in the hamlet of Machecoul near Nantes in France’s Loire Valley. The location was chosen because the ‘gros plant’ grape, which is grown there, offered exceptional features for making brandy. Indeed, brandy production in this part of the world has protected appellations and strict regulations surrounding the labelling of ageing times. After years of experimenting, the first fine St-Rémy was launched in 1917 and swiftly enjoyed sales across Europe in the 1920s. By 1967, the company was exporting brandy to Canada, an ambitious move for St-Rémy at the time and, in the 1970s, sales were flourishing all over the world.






In 1980, St-Rémy introduced its first Napoléon VSOP, which means ‘very special old pale’ that is matured for at least four years – as opposed to VS, ‘very special’, brandies, which are aged for just two years. St-Rémy VSOP is a light and well-rounded spirit that’s easy to drink

FRANCE St-Rémy brandy is aged in casks for anything between two and at least six years – depending on the strength of flavour required

on its own or in cocktails. It conjures the taste of juicy red berries combined with the sweet vanilla of oak. It’s amber in colour, with golden yellow highlights. In 1989, St-Rémy launched Napoléon XO (extra old), which is a very fine and complex blend that spends at least six years in casks, usually in smaller barrels to achieve an even more intense flavour. This robust drink is amber coloured with reddish tints reflecting the rich array of fruit, nut and sweet woody flavours. A connoisseur’s brandy with a long smooth finish, St-Rémy Napoléon XO should be savoured as an aperitif or digestif.

BRANDY INNOVATION In 1949, St-Rémy started selling its brandy in an unusual black bottle, a striking move that made it stand out from the competition. Still produced in the same contemporary look, St-Rémy presents itself as an emblem of innovation and entrepreneurialism in a traditionally conservative drinks category. Another standout is St-Rémy’s female cellar master, Martine Pain, who’s one of the few women working in brandy today. Descended from winegrowing heritage dating back to 1637, Martine has devoted more than fifteen years to the St-Rémy standard.

Martine Pain is one of very few female Cellar Masters working in the industry

HOW TO DRINK Brandy is consumed neat more often than most spirits. And the finer the brandy, the more likely it is to be drunk neat, either with or without ice. Brandy is also popular with a generous splash of ginger ale, or mixed in numerous long and short cocktails.


This rich, silky drink is a brandy twist on the original gin-based Alexander cocktail. It’s commonly mixed for after dinner enjoyment or for pairing with chocolate desserts. You take equal parts of St-Rémy brandy, cream and dark crème de cacao, mix and garnish with ground nutmeg. SIDECAR

Reportedly invented in Paris around the time of the First World War, this member of the ‘sour’ cocktail family was generally made with brandy, although the bourbon sidecar is a newer alternative. You first rim the glass with sugar, then mix three parts St-Rémy brandy with two parts triple sec and one part fresh lemon juice and garnish with a twist of lemon.

ST-RÉMY TRUFFLE Brandy truffle Brandy Truffles are most defi nitely members of the chocolate aristocracy – it’s one of those recipes that all chocolatiers love to perfect. Ours is a gorgeously simple recipe that incorporates a good glug of fi ne St-Rémy VSOP brandy in a silky soft ganache. Look out for juicy red berry flavours, the vanilla sweetness of oak and, of course, lots of warming notes. Chocolatier: O Nicod

© The Chocolate Tasting Club plc 2012 Mint House Royston Hertfordshire SG8 5HL UK Tel: 08444 933 933 Fax: 08444 937 590 Website: Images on pages 2-5 courtesy of Wikipedia

Provenance Cards  
Provenance Cards  

An exclusive set of provenance cards, giving you facinating insights into four featured alcohols and liqueurs.