In the Beginning...
The Grand Marnier® story began in 1827 when Jean-Baptiste Lapostolle founded a distillery in Neauphe-le-Château, France that produced fruit liqueurs.
It was in 1876, when his granddaughter married Louis-Alexandre Marnier, the son of a wine-making family from the Sancerre region, that the Marnier Lapostolle family was born.
Grand Marnier® liqueur was originally named "Curaçao Marnier", but when inventor Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle had his friend César Ritz taste his creation, the famed hotelier was so taken with it that he suggested a new name: "Grand Marnier®"
"A grand name for a grand liqueur," he is reputed to have said, ignoring a trend in turn-of-the-century Paris to call everything small, or "petit" (Le petit journal, Le petit café, Le petit palais, etc.)
A connoisseur of fine cognac, Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle had the innovative idea of blending cognac with a rare variety of orange from the Caribbean the “Citrus bigaradia”. At the time, oranges were luxury items, consumed mostly at special occasions, like Christmas.
By combining the complexity and mellowness of cognac with the exoticism of distilled essence of orange – according to a still-secret recipe – Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle created the famous liqueur in 1880.
At the turn of the century, Grand Marnier® was awarded numerous medals in national and international competitions (Universal Expositions in Chicago in 1893, in Paris in 1900, etc.).
Louis-Alexandre MarnierLapostolle promoted his liqueur throughout the world to wealthy and famous patrons.
The Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph is said to have ordered 12 cases of Grand Marnier® liqueur after tasting it at the Grand Hotel in Monte Carlo.
Embraced as the quintessential after-dinner drink, Grand Marnier® was also celebrated for its culinary versatility from the start.
In the 1900s, the chef Escoffier, father of modern French cuisine, made the crêpe Suzette and the Grand Marnier® soufflé famous throughout the world. Both desserts were enjoyed by the Prince of Wales, a great fan of the liqueur, and are still considered masterpieces of French cuisine.
Thanks to Louis-Alexandre's friend, César Ritz, the liqueur was soon proposed to the Ritz Hotel clients at the end of every meal as a taste of luxury and refinement.
Aboard the Titanic
A timeless liqueur among the some of the world’s finest, Grand Marnier® was evidently stocked on board the White Star Line’s transatlantic liners at the beginning of the 20th century. During their luxury voyage, passengers enjoyed sophisticated meals which finished with a liqueur tasting. As proof of its presence on the Titanic, the greatest steamship in history, a bottle of Grand Marnier® was found among its wreckage and is now on display at the Titanic Museum.
Presence in Cognac
It is at the heart of the Cognac region, at the Château de Bourg-Charente, that the long process of creating the Marnier-Lapostolle products begins. Acquired in 1921 by Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle, it has always been here that the cognacs that go into the making of Grand Marnier® liqueur have been selected, aged and blended.
Société des Produits Marnier-Lapostolle is the world’s 5th largest purchaser of cognac and is supplied by nearly 200 of the region’s small-scale distillers or “bouilleurs de crus”.
Grand Marnier® Cuvée du Centenaire
The Cuvée du Centenaire was created in 1927 by Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle to mark the company's hundredth anniversary. It was first served at a reception held at the Villa des Cèdres, on the French Riviera. The harmonious blend of exotic bitter oranges and Petite and Grande Champagne cognacs gives the Cuvée du Centenaire its remarkable finesse.
Cocktail Hour history
Ever since the cocktail craze first swept the United States and Europe in the 1930s, Grand Marnier® has been the liqueur of choice for classic cocktails and mixed drinks.
At a competition organized for bartenders in London in 1933, Arthur A. Tarling won first prize for his creation - the Red Lion, a Grand Marnier®-based cocktail that has become a classic.
The Aubevoye bottling and packaging site in Normandy was built in 1975 to meet growing demand. Each week, the Neauphle-le-Château distillery sends over 200,000 litres of liqueurs to Aubevoye for packaging. This is where perhaps the most famous final touch transpires: the placing of the famous red moiré ribbon and the wax seal on the bottle, guaranteeing not only the specificity of the Grand Marnier® liqueurs, but also their quality. After packaging, the majority of production is sent to the port of Le Havre from where it is shipped to over 150 countries throughout the world.
Grand Marnier® Cuvée du Cent Cinquantenaire
The Cuvée du Cent Cinquantenaire was created in 1977 by the company's president, Jacques Marnier Lapostolle, to celebrate its 150th anniversary. This exceptionnal cuvée, which was for many years reserved exclusively for the family and their closest circles, is now available in limited quantities.
The Cuvée du Cent Cinquantenaire is a blend of Citrus bigaradia tropical oranges and the finest Grande Champagne cognacs, some of which have attained 50 years of age.
This three-colour Grand Marnier®-based cocktail bears the name of an explosive American rock group that was very successful in the 1980s. It was at the end of a night of partying, perhaps inspired by this flaming cocktail, that this alternative rock group was created.
Underground concerts at some of the world's most famous clubs, followed by their rise to the top of the charts helped make the B-52 cocktail famous throughout the world.
Invented in the early 90s, the Cosmopolitan very quickly became an international classic, especially among women. The star Madonna helped popularize it at parties in New York and London. It has been recently rediscovered at the world's trendiest bars in a more upscale version known as the Grand Cosmopolitan (in which the original triple sec is replaced by the subtle Grand Marnier® liqueur).
Grand Marnier® Louis-Alexandre
Created in honour of Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle, this liqueur pays homage to his creative vision, his dynamism and his open-mindedness. An original and assertive blend of tropical orange and a selection of fine old cognacs, this recipe was inspired by a ritual that Louis-Alexandre was particularly fond of -- adding an extra drop of cognac to his Grand Marnier® liqueur. This cuvee is drier and more intense than the others.
Grand Marnier® on Royal Tables
The House of Grand Marnier® celebrated the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana on 29 July 1981 with a special cuvée.
These privileged ties with the United Kingdom were strengthened yet again when a special liqueur was offered as a gift to Queen Elizabeth II in April 2006, on the occasion of her 80th birthday. This unique cuvee, resulting from a blend of very old, rare cognacs and a special twice-distilled orange essence, was presented to Her Royal Highness in a purple bottle, one of her favourite colours.
The Grand Marnier® bottle, with its cognac pot-still shape, wax seal, red ribbon and ivory label with gothic letters, has not changed in over 150 years. It is instantly recognizable. For over 25 years, Grand Marnier® has been the most widely exported French liqueur.
Today Grand Marnier® is available in over 150 countries. A bottle of Grand Marnier® is sold every two seconds around the world.
A Family Affair
More than 150 years – and six generations – after it was established, Grand Marnier® is still owned and managed by the family that founded it: the Marnier Lapostolles.
Today the company’s president, Jacques Marnier Lapostolle, defends the same values as those of his great-great-grandfather: quality, authenticity and style.