Christmas Cocktails with… Grand Marnier

GrandMarnier Title

For the festive period of 2012, Grand Marnier, the French orange liqueur, have released a special Paris Edition of their bottle. This follows in a long line of other special, Limited Edition bottles that they have released annually since 2003.

grand-marnier- lmited editions

The very first Limited Edition bottle produced by the brand was actually for Grand Marnier’s centenary in 1927*. These bottles, shown below, were hand-painted. Interestingly, it bears a striking resemblance to the new 2012 version.

GrandMarnier Centenaire and Paris

Grand Marnier was first produced in 1880 and it is a blend of Cognac and bitter orange, as well as sugar and some other ingredients. It is then aged in French Oak casks before being bottled at 40%ABV.


The Taste

Grand Marnier on its own
Colour: Rich amber-gold.
Nose: Candied orange peel, reminiscent of Seville orange or marmalade, a little vanilla and a touch of spice. Very genuine notes.
Taste: Smooth, with a good balance of sweetness and spirit warmth. Unlike many liqueurs, the quality of the underlying alcohol really comes through. There’s also a long finish of sweet and lightly spiced orange peel. Full of flavour; excellent.

GrandMarnierChristmasCocktails - Coffee

In a coffee
Lovely; the orange really comes through and the sweetness of the liqueur mixed with the bitterness of the Espresso gives the drink the impression of orange-flavoured dark chocolate. Very indulgent, but not in a rich and creamy way, I think this will appeal as an after-dinner treat for those who like to avoid sickly, creamy drinks in favour of velvety, intense flavours.

Christmas Cocktails

GrandMarnierChristmasCocktails - SantasSidecar#1) Santa’s Sidecar
[40ml Cognac,10ml Grand Marnier, 10ml Lemon Juice, 1tsp Mincemeat – SHAKE]

A rich and flavourful cocktail, with warmth from the Cognac, sweetness from the liqueurs and tartness from the lemon juice. The use of Grand Marnier (over many other orange liqueurs) adds a rich orange flavour and the mincemeat adds more fruitiness and a good dose of spice. All in all, this makes this a very festive Sidecar.


GrandMarnierChristmasCocktails - MerryMargarita#2) Merry Margarita
[30ml Tequila, 30ml Cranberry Juice, 10ml Lime Juice, 10ml Grand Marnier, Dash of Heather Graham’s Christmas Bitters (or failing that, Angostura) – SHAKE]

A very similar flavour profile to a normal Margarita, with all of the smoky, sour and sweet elements of a traditional Margarita, but perhaps a little dryer, because of the cranberry. The bitters add a touch of spice, which give the drink that extra Christmassy feel.


GrandMarnierChristmasCocktails - Cocktails#3) Snow Lady
[30ml Sacred Christmas Pudding Gin**, 20ml Grand Marnier, 10ml Orange Juice, 5ml Lemon Juice – SHAKE]

Light mincemeat notes on the nose. To taste, this has a very smooth texture, with the sweetness of the mincemeat to start, followed by the rich, orange notes of the Grand Marnier; fresh notes of orange juice bridge the two. Refreshing, yet Christmassy and a great opening cocktail for guests of a Winter Soireé.



GrandMarnierChristmasCocktails - ChristmasCosmo#4) Christmas Cosmo (A Winterised Cosmopolitan)
[30ml Stolichnaya Citros, 15ml Grand Marnier, 20ml Cranberry Juice, 10ml Cinnamon Liqueur, 10ml Lime Juice – SHAKE. Garnish the glass with a splash of lemon juice and some edible gold stars.]

The Cosmopolitan is typically a tart, clean and invigorating drink. This slight twist on the classic cocktail, with its richer, fuller orange flavours from the Grand Marnier and the extra spice of the cinnamon schnapps/liqueur warms and rounds the drink off well. This is very much a winter reflection of the classic 1980s cocktail, and very tasty, too.

GrandMarnierChristmasCocktails - FrostyBishop#5) Frosty Bishop
[30ml Mincemeat-infused Scotch, 10ml Orange Juice, 10ml Red Vermouth, 10ml Grand Marnier, – SHAKE – Dust the glass with Icing Sugar.]

The sugar on the glass not only adds a blizzard-like look, but also adds a touch of soft sweetness on your lips before you drink. This is a lovely mixture of orange, cinnamon and the flavours of Christmas; the Scotch adds a woody warmth and the orange juice is balanced out by the Grand Marnier and the bitter-sweet herbal notes of the vermouth. This reminds me of a Christingle and is warming and comforting.


GrandMarnierChristmasCocktails - WhiteSnow#6) WhiteSnow
[40ml Grand Marnier, 10ml Cranberry Juice, 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters – SHAKE]

This is a variation on one of the few cocktails that use an orange liqueur as a primary ingredient. The substitution was simple: use cranberry instead of lemon juice. The result is a rich, orange flavour with its sweetness and warmth balanced out by the dry cranberry and brought together by the spice of the bitters. Simple, but smashing.


In Conclusion

I’d never really previously experimented with Grand Marnier and, when mixing it in Christmas cocktails, the orange with a hint of warm, spice flavours seems like a natural fit for the season.

The Grand Marnier in a hot Espresso is simple, but very effective; the Winterised Cosmopolitan is a minor tweak, but one that works very well; but I think that the best combination of flavours by far was Grand Marnier and mincemeat in the Snow Lady and the Frosty Bishop.

The limited edition Paris bottle is available at Harvey Nichols  and Whisky specialist shops , prices start from £25.99.

* The distillery that created Grand Marnier was founded by Jean-Baptiste Lapostolle in Neauphe-le-Château in 1827, but Grand Marnier was created in 1880.
** If you can’t get Sacred’s Christmas Pudding Gin, you can easily whip up some mincemeat-infused gin of your own (see below).
**The mincemeat-infused Scotch is also easy and quick to make: put 50ml of whisky in a glass with 1tsp of mincemeat and leave for 30 minutes. Strain before use.


This entry was posted in Vintage Cocktails and tagged , , , by DTS. Bookmark the permalink.

About DTS

partial to a martini? to a smoke-hazed gin joint & a perfect tipple poured with the style, swank & skill of a true aficionado? …then pull up your stool to the bar, prepare to stock up your cocktail cabinet & get ready to drink it all in as we introduce you to a stitch in times’ resident barman… David T. Smith is a drinks enthusiast currently residing in the U.K. a long-time fan of tasting & exploring various types of alcohol, he has a fascination for vintage spirits and cocktails, in particular their heritage & origins; this was strengthened last year when he presented a talk and accompanying monograph on the Martini. it was as a result of his research of this topic that he was introduced to drinks paraphernalia, & he is now the happy owner of a colourful collection of bottles, books, and gadgets from a wide range of eras… an avid believer in the validity and variety of personal opinion, particularly in the subjective area of tasting, he enjoys hosting tasting sessions for friends, constantly challenging them to find their own favourite tipple. in addition to all of this, he is also interested in economics, three-piece suits, board games & keeping alive the art of engaging in enjoyable conversation with a good glass of port whilst surrounded by pipe smoke… Thanks to Analiebe for writing this rather flattering blurb for me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s