Spirit Of The Week: Grand Marnier Grande Cuvée Quintessence

Grand Marnier’s new “Exceptional Range” bottle elevates the bartender’s secret weapon to unparalleled levels of liqueur elegance.

(Grand Marnier)

Grand Marnier might just be the worst kept secret weapon of many quality mixologists, as the cognac-based orange liqueur improves countless recipes (especially over, say, triple sec). For instance legendary bartender and the “father of American mixology” Jerry Thomas swapped Grand Marnier for vermouth in his version of the Manhattan, innovating one of our favorite cocktails ever. 

And it all started in 1880 when Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle had a vision: to stir Citrus Bigaradia—a rare European bitter, aromatic orange—with refined French cognac. 

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This season Grand Marnier debuts their Exceptional range, twin offerings of the oldest cognacs ever used by the esteemed French label. The more accessible Révélation (SRP $700) is the prestige expression of the iconic French Maison, its final assemblage of cognac and Bigaradia essence granting the liqueur the most cognac-forward taste in the Grand Marnier range after resting several months in oak tanks.

Révélation’s extremely aged XXO cognacs are pulled exclusively from the coveted Grande Champagne cru, then matured at the distinguished Chateau Grand Marnier in Bourg-Charente. 

Then there’s Quintessence, one of the most elevated liqueurs ever bottled. The prestigious rare cuvée Quintessence boasts the oldest hors d’âge cognacs handpicked from Paradis, the personal reserves of the Marnier Lapostolle family cellar.

The specific recipe for Quintessence was found by Historic Master Blender Patrick Raguenaud in the Maison’s archives. There he unearthed a forgotten gem where the Bigaradia peels were macerated in the cognac, then double distilled to bolster its intensity—and thus Quintessence was created. 

“It’s a rare experience to drink this, even to imagine this kind of cognac is rare. The sensation, the feeling, the perception of what you smell, it is unforgettable,” Master Blender Raguenaud explains. “When you blend for Quintessence, you blend a heritage.”

Quintessence comes packaged in a mouthblown Maison Baccarat decanter inspired by the original Grand Marnier bottle from centuries ago, featuring an iconic never-ending twist and hand-made stopper — each bottle unique and bespoke. 

As previously mentioned Grand Marnier is best known as an ingredient in world-class cocktail menus, but with these twin, highly aged expressions one should save these Grande Cuvée tipples to be served neat or on the rocks. 

Only 1,000 bottles of the exclusive Exceptional Range will be sold worldwide. $3,500

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