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  • Writer's pictureDane

Drinks with Dane | Week 12

This week we have a couple of great stories on the history of orange flavored liqueurs.


Hi Everyone,

We’ll be using a lesser known orange and tangerine liqueur to make this week's cocktail: Take me to Tangier. Exotic locales await us! Orange you glad you joined us this week?

Thank you for your support and please tag me @drinkswithdane on Instagram or #DrinksWithDane so I can raise a glass with you!


Curaçao’s History

The Caribbean island of Curaçao was first colonized by the Spanish in the early 1500’s. Spanish explorers brought Seville and Valencia oranges to Curaçao and planted orchards there. The climate was not ideal for oranges, however, the trees adapted to their surroundings. The fruit was small and bitter, but the peel was wonderfully fragrant. The oranges that developed on Curaçao came to be known as Laraha Oranges (Citrus aurantium currassuviensis - Golden Orange of Curaçao).

During the Eighty Years’ War the Netherlands achieved its independence from Spain. During this conflict The Dutch West India Company invaded Curaçao and took possession of it from the Spanish. The Bols Distillery, founded in 1575 in Amsterdam, had shares in both The Dutch East and West India Companies to insure a supply of exotic spices for their distillery. Dried Laraha Orange peels were exported back to Amsterdam and used to make the first Curaçao liqueurs. These sweet Dutch orange liqueurs would become popular in Europe by the early 1800’s.

Triple Sec’s History

In 1834, in the village of Saumur in the heart of the Loire Valley, chocolatier Jean-Baptiste Combier and his wife began working on an orange liquor that they hoped would set their confections apart from their competitions. They used sugar beet neutral spirit from Normandy, dried sweet and bitter orange peels from Haiti and spices from Provence. Their “Combier Liqueur d’Orange” became much more popular than their chocolate did. Their creation was a triple distilled orange liqueur that was much drier (less sweet) than the Dutch Curaçao. Over time it became known as just Triple Sec. Triple for their unique distillation process, and “Sec” being the French for dry.

Cointreau’s History

Cointreau also lays claim to being the first to originate Triple Sec. Founded by Edouard Cointreau in 1875, he developed a dry orange flavored liqueur flavored with dried bitter and sweet orange peels infused into a sugar beet neutral spirit. Cointreau suggests they named it Triple Sec because it was the third iteration of their recipe or it may come from the three different types of oranges used in flavoring

Blue Curaçao’s History

By the late 1800’s, Bols had started to release many flavored and colored liqueurs onto the global market. Flavors and colors ranged from Crème de Banana, Crème de Menthe, and by 1912 Crème de Ciel (cream of the sky) aka Blue Curaçao. A whole rainbow of liqueurs had made their way from Europe to the United States during the explosion of cocktails during the Golden Era of drinks before Prohibition. Drinks like the Blue Moon, Blue Train, Blue Bird, and Blue Monday stood side-by-side with the violet hued Aviation and the vibrant pink Clover Club. While Prohibition curbed the consumption of many of these colored liqueurs in the United States, it did not in Europe. Many of the top bartenders from the United States left to staff bars in Europe during this time.

Blue Curaçao makes it return to the American Cocktail scene in 1957, in the middle of the tiki craze. Bols sales reps were attending a conference in Honolulu and trying to get the liqueur to break into the American Market. They asked the Head Bartender at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Harry Yee, for help. He created the Blue Hawaii: a vodka and light rum tiki drink that was a vibrant light blue. In 1961, Elvis Presley started in the film Blue Hawaii further solidifying the nations interest in Hawaii and the tiki culture.

Grand Marnier’s History

Grand Mariner is made from blending a distillate of bitter Seville oranges and Cognac. It was originally called Curaçao Marnier when it was first made by Alexandre Mariner-Lapostolle. The famous name was reported given to Mariner-Lapostolle by Cesar Ritz (of the Ritz Hotel) because it should have “A grand name for a grand liqueur.”

Mandarine Napoleon’s History

This is a tangerine and orange flavored liqueur. According to legend, the liqueur was made in the 1700’s by Doctor Antoine-Francois de Fourcory, the personal physician to Emperor Napoleon. It was said to be Napoleon’s favorite drink. The recipe for this drink was found by a Belgian chemist, Louis Schmidt in 1892. Schmidt reportedly found the recipe in Dr. Fourcroy's diary. Mandarine Napoleon is made with Sicilian and Corsican manderine peels with a blend of spices that remains a secret to this day. It is believed to include clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom and a blend of green and black tea. The flavored orange distillate is aged in barrels before being blended with cognac.


Cocktail of the Week: Take Me to Tangier

This is a spiced tangerine cocktail topped with dry Spanish cava.

It's perfect for toasting after a long day traveling (even if it's only from your desk to your porch or living room).

Sip it, enjoy the sunset hues in your glass and imagine being on a rooftop in Tangier, overlooking the cobalt blue waters of the Strait of Gibraltar.

P.S. Cava is an excellent and affordable sparkling alternative to Champagne for all of your special occasion toasting.


What You’ll Need:

  • Mandarine Napoleon

  • Orange Juice

  • Demerara sugar

  • Chinese Five spice powder

  • Cava (preferably a dry Cava)

  • Angostura Bitters

  • Shaker set

  • Cocktail Strainer

  • Optional : Fine Mesh Strainer and Coffee Filter


Chinese Five Spice Syrup

In a small saucepan, put 1 cup demerara sugar and 1 cup cold water. Heat on medium high and stir until sugar is dissolved. Once it comes up to a boil, turn the heat off and add 1 tbs of Chinese five spice powder. Stir with a whisk to incorporate, ensuring there are no clumps. Leave to infuse and cool for 10-15 minutes.

Optional filtration: If you would like a clear syrup, you can filter it by lining a coffee filter into a fine mesh strainer and slowly straining the syrup though it. This process could take upwards of a half hour and is for visual effect only.


Take Me to Tangier

2 oz Mandarine Napoleon

1 oz Fresh Orange Juice

½ oz Chinese Five Spice Syrup

2 Dashes Angostura Bitters

Dry Cava

In a shaker tin, combine everything except the cava. Shake well with ice until the tins are frosty cold. Double strain into a champagne flute and top with cava. Garnish with an orange twist and enjoy. Salute!

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