Beyond an iron gate you see a pathway leading through rows of orange trees. You wander through the welcoming grove to find an art nouveau mansion. Reaching inside your right pocket, you recover the wax sealed envelope that you received a fortnight ago. As you grab for the Fleur de Lis shaped door knocker, you are suddenly overwhelmed with the scent of fresh citrus emanating from the parchment in your hand.
“Knock, knock, knock…”
The door creaks open to reveal a sight decidedly Belle Époque. Flowers, birdcages, books, bottles, paintings, an old Peugot and bicycle, cinematograph. Yes, it is Paris from another era. A sophisticated blend of art and science, and yet something hints at mischief. To your left is a desk with an old typewriter, a stack of paper and a spent cocktail coupe. It looks as though someone had been composing something. You scan the loaded page to discover the words:
WELCOME TO LA MAISON COINTREAU
On October 15th, Cointreau opened its doors and welcomed curious imbibers to a seductive immersion into the history and mystique of the iconic, French orange liqueur.
Launched in New York, La Maison then went on tour to Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Upon arrival, guests were guided through a labyrinth of elaborately designed rooms filled with surprises and history at every turn. Sidecar in hand, the first stop was the Library, one of the largest collections of rare cocktail books curated by Alfred Cointreau, sixth generation of the Cointreau family. Monsieur Cointreau discussed his family’s rich history, the distillery’s beginnings in Angers, France in 1849 and the liqueur’s presence in some of the world’s most beloved cocktails. Those in attendance were also able to peruse the tattered volumes with white gloves or search the entire collection (1862-1968) in digital format on an iPad.
Once thoroughly filled with knowledge and their first cocktail, entranced enthusiasts followed a fetching librarian into an apothecary of yesteryear. The centerpiece of the new room was not the mini pot still or the antique Cointreau bottles, but the rustic table filled with fresh fruit, juice, herbs, spirits and bar tools. What transpired? A hands-on cocktail making class with Cointreau’s chief mixologist, yours truly. The advanced were invited to shake up classic White Lady cocktails (gin, Cointreau, lemon) with a farm-to-glass twist. The equally excited, yet under-experienced were challenged to showcase Cointreau as their 80-proof base spirit, with the simple addition of muddled fruit, fresh lime juice, and Perrier. Something personal and unique, yet easy enough to replicate at home.
At the magic hour, the mixologists were whisked away by the mysterious sound of an accordion and French song, into a boudoir-inspired ballroom. A myriad of extraordinary performances ended their exploration with a toast to the evening. A moment perhaps shared with Dita Von Teese, Nicole Renaud, Lady Rizo, and Johnny Rodgers.
The whole experience was designed to showcase Cointreau’s influence on classic and modern cocktail culture, with all the necessary decadence, glamour, cabaret, and cocktails. An unforgettable evening. An evening at La Maison Cointreau.
Cocktails served during the experience:
2 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. fresh lime juice
4 oz. club soda
Combine all ingredients over ice in a highball glass. Stir briefly. Garnish with a lime wheel.
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. The Botanist Gin
1 oz. Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth
1 dash of Angostura Bitters
Place all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until chilled. Strain into a cocktail coupe and garnish with a lemon twist.
1 1/2 oz. Remy Martin VSOP
¾ oz. Cointreau
¾ oz. Lemon juice
Place all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a sugar rimmed martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Noir & Iced Tea
2 oz. Cointreau Noir
5 oz. Strong Brewed, Unsweetened Iced Tea
Combine all ingredients over ice in a highball glass. Stir briefly. Garnish with a lemon wedge.
1 1/2 oz. Cointreau
1/2 oz. Lime Juice
3 oz. Grapefruit
Place all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with soda and garnish with a grapefruit twist.