ARGUABLY THE BEST ORANGE LIQUEUR
Of all orange-based liqueurs, Cointreau is arguably the best, most flavourful and famous. This French liqueur was created by brothers Edouard and Adolphe Cointreau, in Angers, Loire at the beginning of the 19th century. The original distillery, once in downtown Angers, outgrew available land and had to relocated to a new purpose-built 40,000 m2 (approximately 9 acres) facility outside of town. Appealing orange aromas become evident kilometres away.
Although Cointreau controls almost 25 percent of all French liqueur market (the establishment also owns Regnier liqueurs), it is active in the production of fruit flavour concentrates for food manufacturers and operates facilities in Germany, Argentina, Belgium, Spain, the U K, Italy, the Netherlands, Uruguay, the U S A and Luxembourg.
The Cointreau recipe is secret, only known to three family members who never travel together. What we know is that dried bitter orange peels from the Caribbean (Haiti and the Netherlands Antilles) and sweet orange peels from Seville and Valencia are used, along with spices, alcohol and sugar. At 40 ABV Cointreau is a potent, clear, and versatile product. It can be enjoyed on its own as a digestive, to improve the flavour of coffee, in pastries, for flaming and in cocktails.
Originally Chinese 500 B C cultivated sweet oranges in the provinces Tshe-Kuong and Kounong Toung districts in southern China and made sure that the fruit remained unknown in Europe up to the 15th century. Although bitter oranges were widely enjoyed imported by Arab merchants from eastern Mediterranean.
In the 10th century Moors from North Africa invaded Spain and during their rule that lasted 500 years Arab merchants brought the bitter orange tree to Andalusia, Seville and Valencia. Sweet oranges were first planted in the 15th century.
To this day both sweet and bitter oranges from Seville and Valencia are known for their superior taste and fragrance. Seville and Valencia oranges are exported to many European countries and North America. Spanish agronomists developed the red blood orange that is sought in Europe, but has never really caught on in North America.
Researchers determined that orange flavour is the most popular of all fruit aromas everywhere, which explains the reason of Cointreau’s world-wide fame and popularity.
Article contributed by Hrayr Berberoglu, a Professor Emeritus of Hospitality and Tourism Management specializing in Food and Beverage. Books by H. Berberoglu