If you're a lover of mixed drinks, you might be intrigued to know the not-so-secret ingredient in many of your cocktails: Cointreau, the orange-flavoured triple-distilled sec liqueur made in France.
And if you think it harks from a bygone age, you'd be right – Cointreau was born during the Industrial Revolution and the glamour of La Belle Époque. It began when confectioner Adolphe Cointreau decided to diversify the family business to include liqueur. He made it in an array of different fruit flavours: strawberry, plum, cherry and more, but it was in 1857 that Cointreau started to make its liqueur with orange.
Orange soon proved to be the most popular, and became the family-run company's focus. in 1885, Édouard Cointreau succeeded in creating a perfectly balanced, crystalline liqueur three times more concentrated in flavour and less sweet than anything around at the time.
The liqueur went on to win more than 300 international awards, and is known for its innovative, highly memorable marketing campaigns, including the first film commercial ever created, and a Cointreau Advertising Car that hit France's roads in 1903.
So Cointreau adds more than flavour to your favourite cocktail: it adds elegance and history, too. Don't leave a bottle to languish on your bar cart – try these classic recipes for Cointreau cocktails instead.
Cointreau cocktails: The original margarita
Zingy, refreshing and evoking warmer climes, the margarita is the drink of the moment and a classic Cointreau cocktail
Preparation time 5 mins
The margarita was created back in 1948 when Dallas socialite Margarita Sames mixed her two favourite spirits, Cointreau and tequila, together with lime juice while on vacation in Acapulco .
The cocktail of the moment, here it's served on the rocks with a half-salt rim.
• 30ml Cointreau • 50ml Rémy Martin 1738 Cognac • 20ml fresh lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker
Add ice and shake until well-chilled
Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass
Garnish with a lemon twist
Cointreau cocktails: the white lady
A classic winter drink, the white lady is light, frothy and fun, but beware – it's as strong as martini. Here's how to make it
Preparation time 5 mins
The white lady, mixed by the actress Lilian Harvey, won a cocktail competition in Berlin in April 1930. It was then published in the Savoy Cocktail Book the same year, attributed to Harry Craddock, author and head bartender at the Savoy Hotel in London