Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle had the audacious idea to create something avant-garde, a blend that was sophisticated and unique. A liqueur that would captivate the world for over six generations.
Discover the history of Grand Marnier.
The origins of Grand Marnier began nearly two centuries ago, when Jean Baptiste Lapostolle built a high quality fruit liqueur distillery in Neauphle-le-Château, a small city outside of Paris. His original distillery quickly gained an outstanding reputation.
The origins of Grand Marnier began nearly two centuries ago, when Julia Baptiste, granddaughter of Jean Baptiste Lapostolle, married Louis-Alexandre Marnier. The Marnier family were wine merchants who distributed Lapostolle’s products. With the union of Julia and Louis-Alexandre, whose love story unfolded only fifteen miles to the east of Paris, La Maison Marnier was born. His original distillery quickly gained an outstanding reputation.
Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle had the audacious idea to combine cognac with a rare variety of orange from the Caribbean. The idea of blending them was simply avant-garde. This was the beginning of Grand Marnier orange and cognac liqueur, whose recipe has remained unchanged ever since.
When Louis-Alexandre created his recipe, he named it Curaçao Marnier. César Ritz, his loyal friend and legendary founder of the Ritz Hotel, suggested a new name. At the time, the fashion in Paris was for everything to be “petit”. So he came up with the name “Grand Marnier”: “A grand name for a grand liqueur!”
Louis-Alexandre trademarked a new iconic bottle shape, inspired by the silhouette of a traditional cognac still; it was designed by the crystal specialists at Baccarat, the finest maker of crystal glassware in France. But he also introduced the wax seal and ribbon, first in yellow and then in its iconic red. These elements became the signature of Cordon Rouge, and are still used today.
At the end of the 19th century, Paris was in the heart of “la Belle Epoque”: the Eiffel Tower, Métro and the Opera were all built within three decades. The first public projection of a motion picture also took place during this period. During these exciting times, Grand Marnier took centre stage with its unique blend.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the House of Marnier-Lapostolle, in 1927 a special cuvée was created in very limited quantities: Grand Marnier Cuvée du Centenaire, exceptionally composed by extra old Cognacs from the best crus. For the occasion some of the finest artists created original designs for the famous bottle. These were the first Limited Edition Bottles.
In 1969, Joe Gilmore, the renowned head of bartenders at the American Bar at The Savoy, London, created the Moonwalk cocktail using Grand Marnier to celebrate the first steps on the moon. That was just the beginning. The company started major exports in 1970, mainly to the U.S.: the Grand Margarita became a big success in the 80s. A new era for cocktails had definitely begun.