On Friday afternoon, I was one of the lucky attendees of a Grand Marnier tasting event at—where else?—One-Eyed Mike's in Fells Point. This was no ordinary event, however, because GM's master distiller Patrick Raguenaud had come all the way from Congnac, France to talk about their latest product, Quintessence.
Before we sampled the new product, Raguenaud spoke about the complex process of making Grand Marnier, as about 20 of us looked on (including Style magazine's Brian Lawrence, CityPeek's Patti Neumann, Fleming's manager Dae Chang, and others). Raguenaud went into great detail about what goes into GM—like the essences of oranges from Haiti, the 30-year-old congnac, and imported beet sugar.
Soon, it was time to sample the three drinks placed in front of us, pictured. On the left, there was GM's 100-anniversary edition, the center was the 150-anniversary edition, and its latest product, Quintessence, was on the right. The newest product, according to a press release, is "a superlative new spirit created from the finest components." Raguenaud explained that the cognac in Quintessence can be aged up to 100 years and the bitter oranges are doubly-distilled, creating a more sophisticated blend.
We all sampled Quintessence (becoming the first people to do so in the U.S.) and everyone was impressed. The taste was much more smooth than standard Grand Marnier. While the flavor is more complex and fragrant, the aftertaste has a more velvety, vanilla quality.
While the product (which could be up to $700 a bottle, wholesale) won't be available until the fall, One-Eyed Mike's has some Grand Marnier cocktails on their menu that you can try in the meantime. There's the reverse margarita (3/4 GM and 1/4 tequila) and the GM smash (with muddled mint and lemon). Both are refreshing takes on the orange liqueur.
[Image: courtesy of me]