Earlier this summer Cointreau came to Calgary to host a cocktail competition as part of the French spirit’s cross-Canada tour to crown “Mademoiselle Cointreau-Canada.” Model Milk’s Madeleine MacDonald won with her inventive and delicious In Memoir cocktail.
The tour had previously been to Vancouver (two winners), and then continued on to Toronto (four winners) and Montreal (three winners). In total, 10 outstanding mademoiselle bartenders won a trip to France to visit the Cointreau Distillery in Angers. Fast forward two months and those liquid chefs, including MacDonald, were pitted against one other in the Mademoiselle Cointreau finale, held at Revival Bar in Toronto on Monday night.
I was asked to judge this competition alongside Alfred Cointreau (the great-great-grandson of founder Edouard Cointreau), Nishan Nepulangoda (bartender at Blowfish in Toronto) and Fanny Gauthier (owner of Ateliers & Saveurs in Montreal).
As we sipped our way through the cocktails, the calibre of the finalists became apparent. My favourite cocktail for taste was the Femme Fatale, a perfectly balanced sour from Bar Isabel bartender Leah Mucci. However, we based our marks on not only the drink’s taste and balance, but on the cocktail’s name and story, originality and inspiration, presentation, and execution.
By far the best story of the evening came from winner Rachel Osborne of Philemon Bar in Montreal. Hers was a tale of beginnings and perfect endings; of Cointreau’s start as a distillery making cherry liqueur, to her own start as a bartender at age 12 creating coconut cocktails for her mother. The perfect ending, of course, was how the two beginnings came together — cherry juice shaken with Cointreau and topped with coconut foam. It also helped that the drink was delicious and beautifully presented and executed. For her effort Osborne wins a trip to Miami to meet the city’s top mixologists, and the title of Mademoiselle Cointreau-Canada. Congrats!
Le Cointreau Au Debut
- 1-1/2 oz Cointreau
- 2 oz cherry juice (fresh juice with a small amount of citric acid to make it more sour)
- Foam of coconut milk with lavender-infused cane sugar simple syrup (you may have to travel to Montreal and hunt down Osborne for this)
- Garnish: Dried lavender and a spray of liquid fleur de sel (hand-harvested sea salt) mixed with a small amount of cherry juice for colour.
Method: Combine Cointreau and cherry juice in a shaker with ice and give a short shake (you don’t want too much dilution). Make the foam in a syphon (or go foamless — the foam sort of got in the way of the main event, the Cointreau cherry juice, in my opinion). Strain into a highball glass with ice and top with the coconut foam. Sprinkle on the dried lavender and spritz with the sea salt-cherry juice mixture.
— Recipe by Rachel Osborne, Philemon Bar, Montreal