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You may have wondered, can you drink Grand Marnier straight? But truth be told that seems uninspired in a world of flashy cocktails and fruity concoctions; however, its rich golden hue and floral scent is actually well worth enjoying on its own.
On the one hand, drinking Grand Marnier neat is as easy as pouring it into a snifter and taking a sip. On the other hand, there’s an art and science to appreciating the complex range of flavors.
So if you’re ready for a break from the Cosmos and B-52s, let’s start by going back to 19th century France, where Grand Marnier was first created.
What is Grand Marnier?
Grand Manier is a French liqueur made from Cognac brandy, bitter orange essence, and sugar. It was first created in 1870 by Louis-Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle and remains the dessert liqueur of choice for recipes like Crêpes Suzette.
However, the brand that we’re most familiar with today was invented in 1880. Known as Cordon Rouge (French for “Red Ribbon”), the bottle with the red bow is a familiar sight in most bars and liquor cabinets.
Because of its subtle and sweet orange taste, Grand Marnier is a go-to ingredient for shots and cocktails. But our goal today is drinking it neat and enjoying its full range of flavors.
Prepping for that first sip
Can you drink Grand Marnier straight? The answer to that is "yes." And if you're trying it for the first time, don’t let the pretty color and scent fool you. This brew is 40% alcohol, which is far more boozy than you may be used to.
Even if you’re a seasoned spirits enthusiast, the key word is “moderation.” That means 1 shot of Grand Marnier, and nothing else.
Now, some people consider this cheating, but go ahead and add an ice cube if you prefer your alcohol chilled. Just limit it to one ice cube so you don’t water down the taste. Alternatively, you can use whiskey stones.
Before you take a sip, swirl the snifter around a few times to release all the aromas.
You may be tempted to skip this step and get right to the booze, but 80% of what you taste comes directly from what you can smell. Even without specific numbers, you know food just doesn’t taste as good when you have a stuffy nose.
Savor the taste
After a few swirls, bring the cup to your lips and take a small sip. Again, we want to go slow considering the whopping alcohol content.
Let the flavors linger in your mouth so your taste buds can process each and every one. You’ll taste the bitter orange, of course. But keep your senses open for subtle undertones of hazelnut, vanilla, toffee, and marzipan.
Don’t worry if you can’t taste these flavors right away. It takes time for your mouth to fully register the complexities of Grand Marnier.
Just sit back, savor each sip, and let the ingredients express themselves in due time.
Do I have to use a snifter?
Technically, there’s nothing wrong with pouring some Grand Marnier in a drinking glass if that’s all you have. However, there’s a reason why snifters are the glass of choice for cognac, brandy, and whiskey.
Because of their short stems, snifters are meant to be cradled in your hand. Doing so warms up the liqueur and brings out its full flavor palate.
Then, you have the large bowl and the smaller, tapered mouth. The bowl allows you to swirl the contents, while the shorter mouth traps the released aromas. And as we said before, the stronger the smell, the more authentic the taste.
Get your hands on our favorite snifter right here.
Grand Marnier as a digestif
Aside from the taste, people drink Grand Manier straight as a digestif, which is an alcoholic drink that helps with digestion.
In that case, a bit of bubbly can really help the process. Try mixing 3 parts ginger ale with 1 part Grand Marnier and a wedge of lime for a refreshing, tummy-settling beverage.
By now, we hope you feel inspired to try this beautiful liqueur on its own. And if you’re not quite ready for its potency, don’t be afraid to add a bit of ice. It may take a bit of time, but the warm, smooth taste of Grand Marnier is worth the effort!
Rory used to spend his days tinkering with airplane engines in a Raytheon hangar. But on a junket overseas, a fellow grease monkey talked him into visiting a British distillery that offered tastings. Now he chases the scent, potency, and promise of spirits up mountains, through jungles, and over wide deserts in search of the next transformative mouthful.