Tag Archive: Grand Marnier

Alfonso Special Cocktail

One of the first entries in my favorite drink books under the Gin category is the Alfonso Special Cocktail.  As it is right there up front, I often pass it by for a cocktail that sounds a little less boozy and a little more friendly.  Just reading the ingredients makes me think that this just wouldn’t taste good.  That said, this drink has the added benefits of (1) requires no mixers – it’s all liqueur and (2) your guests are almost guaranteed to never have experienced it before.

A unique quest for me is to find the next “long island”, that is, find a cocktail that sounds like it would be okay at best when you find out what’s in it, but takes on a personality of its own when you take your first sip.  Oh, and also taste good.  Tonight I may have found one of those combinations.  For good measure, we’ll make this a Drink of the Month!

  • 3 ounces Grand Marnier
  • 1.5 ounces gin
  • 1.5 ounces dry vermouth
  • 0.5 ounces sweet vermouth
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, and all the ingredients, shake vigorously until chilled and strain into a cold martini glass.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • I forgot to bury the lead – this drink is surprisingly good.  I was expecting a dry cocktail with an acquired taste, but the Grand Marnier actually sweetens the drink up immensely.
  • There is a lot of complicated flavors in here competing for your attention.  The gin and vermouth help you appreciate the complication of the Grand Marnier without being bowled over by its sweetness.
  • The aftertaste starts with a hit of the dry vermouth and gin, but quickly changes to the a thick orange brandy finish.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 9/10
  • Strength: 6/10 – the taste belies the content
  • Sweetness: 8/10
  • When you are running short of mixers and all you have is a well stocked bar – try this one on for something different and you will not be disappointed.

Elegant Without Number

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This is the beginning of a big week in the Dave Drinks world.  Today is Dave’s sister’s birthday, then we have my birthday on Wednesday, followed by my “first meeting” anniversary on Friday and culminating with Valentines Day on Saturday.  Is there such a thing as too much celebration?  At least there is the three day weekend at the end of it to help soften the blow.

So as we try tonight’s drink, I can’t help but wondering, what the hell the name of this drink even means… any ideas?  No?  I guess let’s just start the drinking!

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 0.75 ounces calvados
  • 0.5 ounce Grand Marnier
  • Maraschino Cherry for garnish

Shake over ice and serve in a chilled martini glass.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • I’m having a hard time getting behind this one.  The Calvados is the dominant flavor, but the taste is a little off.  I cannot call this a well balanced drink.
  • While there is a hint of sweetness from the Grand Marnier, ultimately this drink is rather dry, and if I am being honest, a little flat.
  • I kept hoping that each sip would help make the taste get better, but unfortunately it just felt like a slog to get through this.  Oh well.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 4/10
  • Strength: 7/10
  • Sweetness: 3/10
  • I don’t think that I would serve this to someone unless they really knew what they were doing.

French Twist


I was harassed today about the lack of posts to the blog of late, so I need to rectify this. One of our great partners signed up a deal, and there is not much better news than that needed to raise a glass to. So cheers to you both Jim and Liz – and now on to my cocktail!

Always a sucker for a bourbon drink – tonight’s foray is the French Twist.  I tried to get creative with the picture in front of the fire, although it came out a little blurry, I think the effect was still worth it!  If you don’t enjoy the picture – try the drink on for size.

  • 1.5 ounces bourbon (Makers Mark of course)
  • 1.5 ounces of brandy
  • 0.5 ounce Grand Marnier
  • 0.25 ounce fresh lemon juice

Throw everything in a shaker over ice and serve it up in a chilled martini glass.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • After a few sips I am not sure how to describe it, in some ways it’s sort of flavorless.  I can taste it, it just doesn’t jump out at you and certainly doesn’t stay with you.
  • For a drink that is almost all liquor, it is surprising how smooth it is.  No one will mistake this for a non-alcoholic drink though…
  • The drink has a pleasing sweetness as you sip, you can taste the orange of the Grand Marnier for sure.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 6/10
  • Strength: 7/10
  • Sweetness: 7/10
  • I am having a hard time saying that I enjoy it, I just can’t say I don’t like it.  I give it a “meh”.

Lemon Drop

It’s a stormy Friday 13th here in San Diego tonight.  The cat isn’t a happy camper, and all he wants to do is hang out with me.  Sounds like a perfect night for a drink.

So why the Lemon Drop?  Simple enough, but last week I somehow ended up at the infamous Silver Fox in PB and more incredibly, I found myself drinking a Lemon Drop shot.  Damn it was awful.  With that as my background, I set out to make the ultimate version of this drink.  I present to you – the fancy pants davedrinks Lemon Drop.

  • 1.5 ounce lemon vodka
  • 1 ounce Grand Marnier
  • 1.5 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 0.5 ounce orange juice

Combine in a shaker over ice, shake and serve in a chilled sugar rimmed martini glass.  Garnish with a lemon spiral.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • The same basic flavor profile of a Lemon Drop, but this one really pops.  It’s the perfect blend of sweet and tart.
  • The Silver Fox version was flat, but here you can really taste the lemon, the orange and the Grand Marnier as you sip.
  • This may be based on a shot, but this is better enjoyed as a martini.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 7/10
  • Strength: 7/10
  • Sweetness: 6/10
  • Next time your buddy orders a Lemon Drop shot – make sure this is the one!

Prince George’s Cocktail

Nothing says 2012 like celebrating royalty, and as an Englishman, this is something that I can really get behind.  It’s QE2’s diamond jubilee this year… 50 years as the monarch of all the empire.  Of course, the empire isn’t what it used to be, after we kicked out the Americans, let the convicts in Australia go free and gave most of the worlds natural resources over to Canada.  We do however have those Falkland Islands.  Suck it Argentina!

So tonight we raise our glasses, pinky fingers extended and snooty voice intact, with Price George’s Cocktail.

  • 3 ounces white rum (Bacardi – none of that generic stuff for us royals)
  • 2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier (it is grand…)
  • 4 teaspoons of lime juice
  • lemon twist (optional)

Gentley insert each ingredient into a vessel worthy of monarch, filled with ice made of water that was withheld from the peasants, and shake as if the empire depended on it.  Serve into your finest crystal martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • Old George was not a modern sophisticated type, only classic contents in this glass.
  • Basically a high-class Daiquiri, but not at all too sweet.
  • The complexity of the Grand Marnier laces the aftertaste, but the initial taste is all Caribbean cocktail.

Tastings Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 8/10
  • Strength: 8/10
  • Sweetness: 5/10
  • Rule Britannia…

Agent Orange

Not sure exactly why I am stuck on the orange drinks over the past few days, but here is another one – the Agent Orange – and I have to say that this is the best one so far.  Up there in the picture you can also see my favorite bar drink book – which I HIGHLY recommend to everyone out there.  It doesn’t have the most original name – “Ultimate Bar Book” – but it is hands down the best recipe guide that I have ever seen.  So if you tire of my endless rants and mediocre pictures, do yourself a favor and add this one to your collection.  So how does this Agent Orange taste, page 311.

  • 3 ounces of vodka
  • 1.5 ounce of Grand Marnier
  • 0.5 ounce Cointreau
  • 1 ounce orange juice

Shake the ingredients vigorously over ice, serve in a martini glass.  Garnish with an orange peel.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • This is a sweet cocktail.  The Cointreau and the Grand Marnier take care of that.
  • The flavor has a base of orange juice, the sweetness of the Cointreau and the complexity of the Grand Marnier.  It is amazing how each of the ingredients stars in its own way – a surprisingly complex drink.
  • If a dry martini is your thing – stay away.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 8/10
  • Strength: 6/10
  • Sweetness: 9/10
  • A deliciously complex orange treat.

What is Orange Liqueur?

Time to learn something.

I am not sure how exactly I came to this conclusion, but I was always under the impression that orange liqueur was orange liqueur, and for fun there were various grades/types that you could select.  There was the poor mans version – triple sec in all its generic forms.  If you were in the mood for crazy colors you could opt for blue curacao.  Then once you graduated college and could afford a little better you could upgrade to Cointreau.  If you were crazy you then go all the way for the Grand Marnier – for the baller in you.

Funny thing is, I was wrong.  While they are all technically orange liqueurs, they are each made in a very distinct way with different ingredients.  They can all be drunk as an aperitif, often over ice or used as the ingredient of a fun libation.  Here is the summary:

  1. Triple Sec.  The generic standby.  This is actually a type of curacao, but not as sweet as the other varieties.
  2. Curacao (including the fantastically blue version I sampled here).  This is a specific type of liqueur made in the Dutch West Indies using dried sour orange peels.  Surprisingly, it was originally made with fruit from the island of Curacao.
  3. Cointreau.  This is technically another curacao, but it has no relation to its Caribbean cousin.  This is made from a complex recipe, but the primary difference is that it made from a base of grape brandy – who knew?  There is also a secret mix of plant ingredients included to enhance the flavor.
  4. Grand Marnier.  This once should be different – it is the only one that has a brown coloring.  This is a further refinement of a curacao, this time using cognac as a base.  To mellow the taste it is also cask aged.  This is fine enough to enjoy neat if you are no inclined.

Now I know how they are different – how do they taste different?  To be honest I had never tried any of these outside of a cocktail recipe, so no time like the present for a taste test.

Tasting Notes:

  • Triple Sec – smooth and sweet.  When sampled alone almost has the taste of an orange tic-tac.  While it is certainly sweet, it is not as sweet as I was expecting.
  • Curacao – sweeter, harsher, and in this case blue!  While I have to say it is only subtly different from the Triple Sec, it tastes like a less refined version.
  • Cointreau – one word – sweet!  This is a whole different level of orange liqueur.  The smell lures you in with the pleasant hint of orange peels, but the taste is powerful, almost spicy.
  • Grand Marnier – totally different again, very much the taste of cognac, and the orange flavor is almost secondary.  Not as sweet and definitely more robust a flavor.

Now you know – there is a difference, so my years of reckless substitution are over!

French Ginger Martini

Time for another experiment in ginger cocktails – this one the French Ginger Martini.  After enjoying all the drinks I have made so far with Canton Ginger Liqueur, I thought I would take a browse of their website for another recipe that might be interesting and this is it.  A simple drink where the ginger becomes the star.

  • 1.5 ounces ginger liqueur (Canton)
  • 1.5 ounces vodka (Grey Goose)
  • Splash of Grand Marnier

Shake the ingredients vigorously over ice and strain into a chilled martini glass, enjoy!

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • First impression is how much of a ginger kick this has – you can feel the heat of the ginger in the back of your mouth.
  • Very unique cocktail – don’t think that I have ever had anything like it.
  • Probably something that is difficult to order in a bar!

Kathryn’s Thoughts

  • Candied Ginger!
  • Dangerous – I want another sip – but I’m afraid.  I did it anyway.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 8/10
  • Strength: 5/10 (although I think it may be deceptive if you had a few)
  • Sweetness: 8/10
  • Another reason to add Canton ginger liqueur to your bar.

Margarita on the Rocks

Not that many drinks in and I am already on my second margarita – this time served on the rocks.  Nothing beats a fresh margarita on a summer’s day (or December 31), and I needed to find a use for some fantastic home-made Sweet and Sour Mix that was taking up space in the refrigerator.

  • 3 ounces fresh sweet and sour mix
  • 1.5 ounces triple sec
  • 2.25 ounces gold tequila (Los Osuna)
  • 0.5 ounce Grand Marnier
  • lime wedge

Mix all of the ingredients in a rocks glass over ice (salt the rim if that is your thing).  Stir it up, squeeze in the fresh lime wedge and enjoy.

Dave’s Thoughts

  • Not too shabby this.  A long drinking alternative to the Golden Margarita
  • The home-made sweet and sour was probably the difference here.
  • The tequila blends in so well and compliments the flavors.

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Rating: 8/10
  • Strength: 6/10
  • Sweetness: 6/10
  • Enjoy it on a summer’s day at the beach!

Golden Margarita

Drink number one – the Golden Margarita!  I am not necessarily a Tequila fan, but I had Tequila, lots of limes and some Grand Marnier, so I gave it a whirl!

  • 2 ounces gold tequila (Los Osuna)
  • 1 ounce Grand Marnier
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice

Mix over ice, shake it up, serve in a chilled martini glass up.

Dave’s Thoughts:

  • Nice drink, not so smooth you can’t taste the tequila, not so harsh you can’t enjoy
  • Great special margarita
  • Not sweet, not too strong, a real margarita

Kathryns’s Thoughts:

  • Tart and clean
  • Strong
  • Very good – an 8 or 9/10

We have a winner!

Tasting Notes:

  • Dave’s Score: 8/10
  • Strength: 7/10
  • Sweetness: 3/10
  • For when you want to drink tequila without the whistle.