Tag Archives: Cointreau cocktails

Drink of the Week: Elle

Every Oscars party needs a little bubbly to help ease the way through the many boring parts of the awards show. This drink, created to toast French actress Isabelle Huppert — who’s nominated for best actress for her role in Elle — is just the thing: it’s light, audacious and leads to fun.

And, apropos of Huppert, it features French spirits. There’s the sweet orange kiss of Cointreau, plus some fizz from the Piper-Heidsieck Rosé Sauvage (rosé Champagne = genius!). Piper-Heidsieck happens to be the official champagne of the Academy Awards, so there’s no better time to pop the cork on a bottle. And the winner is…

The Elle: a classy, bubbly drink for your Oscars party.

Elle: a classy, bubbly drink for your Oscars party.


  • Plain ice cubes
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 0.5 oz Cointreau
  • 3.5-4 oz Piper Heidsieck Rosé Sauvage
  • Zest of pomelo or blood orange
  • Garnish: 2-3 blackberries

Method: Build the drink in a rocks glass over ice and garnish with blackberries.

— Recipe courtesy Piper Heidsieck

Happy hour in the Bugaboos

Happy hour after heli-hiking goes something like this: Grab a beer from the bar at the Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) Bugaboos Lodge, take it to the rooftop hot tub to enjoy with a view of the mountains, and then — at 5:30, or sometime before dinner — order The 5:30 cocktail.

Bartender Rob Vinson shakes his version of a Sidecar with pear brandy instead of cognac and lime juice rather than lemon. You wouldn’t think that a bunch of hikers would be ordering cocktails in the backcountry of British Columbia, but the surprising thing about heli-hiking — using a Bell 212 helicopter to access alpine ridges for hiking that would otherwise remain inaccessible — is it empowers you to try new things, whether it’s a via ferrata, or a dry, citrusy and strong sipper at day’s end. And if you line up your glass just right, the impressive Houndstooth Spire makes a great garnish!

The 5:30 is a twist on a Sidecar, with pear brandy instead of cognac. It's just the thing to take you away after a day hiking from the whirly bird.

The 5:30 is a twist on a Sidecar, with pear brandy instead of cognac. It’s just the thing to take you away after a day hiking from a whirly bird.

The 5:30

  • 1 oz Okanagan Spirits Poire Williams (Pear Brandy)
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 1/2 lime, muddled

Method: Muddle half a lime in the base of a cocktail shaker. Add pear brandy, Cointreau and ice, shake. Double strain into a chilled martini glass.

— Cocktail courtesy Rob Vinson, bartender at CMH Bugaboos

Le Cointreau Au Debut

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.

Rachel Osborne readies the bar for her Cointreau-cherry juice cocktail on Monday night at Revival Bar in Toronto.

Competitor Rachel Osborne readies the bar Monday night at Revival Bar in Toronto while emcees Dee Brun (Cocktail Deeva) and Lolitta Dandoy look on.

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.

Leah Mucci affixes a mint leaf and candied kumquat garnish to her Femme Fatale cocktail, a sublime twist on a sour.

Leah Mucci affixes a mint leaf and candied kumquat garnish to her Femme Fatale cocktail, a sublime twist on a sour.

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!

Winning cocktail Le Cointreau Au Debut is a pleasing mix of Cointreau and cherry juice by Montreal bartender Rachel Osborne.

Winning cocktail Le Cointreau Au Debut is a pleasing mix of Cointreau and cherry juice by bartender Rachel Osborne. Extra points for presentation!

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

Drink of the Week: In Memoir

My memories of visiting Angers in France revolve around sipping Cointreau over ice inside Chateau des Briottieres, an 18th-century chateau-turned-B&B, before sampling more Cointreau cocktails after touring the nearby Cointreau distillery the following day. Both the chateau and Cointreau are family-run enterprises, so it’s fitting that the winning cocktail from last week’s Mademoiselle Cointreau competition was a tasty drink named to commemorate family and the memories and ties that bind us together: In Memoir.

This twist on a Cointreau fizz is like a Cointreau-Ramos gin fizz hybrid. Do try this at home.

This twist on a Cointreau fizz is like a Cointreau-Ramos gin fizz hybrid.

Eight female bartenders representing various Calgary restaurants and lounges gathered at Belgo last Thursday to compete for the title of Mademoiselle Cointreau-Calgary by creating an original drink that’s a twist on a classic Cointreau fizz (1-1/2 Cointreau/1/2 lime/top soda water). Every cocktail had to include Cointreau and half a lime, as well as a fizz element such as the traditional soda water.

There were some inventive and delicious drinks mixed up, including a gorgeous ginger creation and a Raspberry Pie Sky made with raspberry sorbet, but the stand-out drink was In MemoirModel Milk bartender Madeleine MacDonald looked to the classic Ramos Gin Fizz and then took out the cream and added in Cointreau when creating her drink. Cointreau really is a natural addition to this drink given the ingredients. It works well with gin and lime, and I have yet to meet a drink that an egg white did not enhance — it somehow just smooths out any rough edges and blends the flavours together. I doubt I’ll ever actually make gewürtz syrup, but I imagine a honey syrup would be a tasty substitution. Enjoy!

In Memoir

  • 1 oz The Botanist gin
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 oz gewürztraminer syrup*
  • Dash orange flower water
  • Top soda water
  • Nasturtium garnish

Method: Dry shake all ingredients, except soda water, to emulsify egg white. Add ice and shake again. Double strain into an old fashioned glass and top with soda water. Garnish with a nasturtium.

*Gewürztraminer syrup: Heat one bottle of gewürztraminer white wine with two cups sugar until sugar has dissolved. Cool, portion and refrigerate.

— Recipe by Madeleine MacDonald, Model Milk



Drink of the Week: Cucumber Cointreau Sour

It’s fair to say I’m on a bit of a Cointreau kick. I brought back a big bottle of the clear spirit — made from orange peels — from France, and I’ve been mixing margaritas, fizzes, white ladies and now, sours. I made this Cucumber Cointreau Sour using only muddled cucumber, lime juice, Cointreau, an egg white and a splash of water. It’s smooth, refreshing and tart, with that lovely, slightly sweet taste of oranges. Delicious.

This sour, made using Cointreau, makes a refreshing drink on a hot, end-of-summer. long weekend evening.

This sour, made using Cointreau, makes a refreshing drink on a hot, end-of-summer, long weekend evening, whether in France or in Fernie.

I have to say I’ve been impressed by Cointreau’s ability to stand up in a drink as the base spirit. Prior to visiting the Cointreau distillery and museum in Angers, I had only used it in cocktails such as the margarita and sidecar where other spirits (e.g. tequila and cognac) do the heavy lifting. After drinking many a fizz in France (Cointreau, lime juice, soda water), I figured it would be lovely anchoring a sour, too. I was right.

Cucumber Cointreau Sour

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 6 cucumber rounds
  • 2 oz Cointreau
  • Egg white
  • Splash water

In the base of a cocktail shaker, muddle the lime juice and 3 cucumber rounds. Add the Cointreau and egg white, then dry shake to emulsify egg. Taste, then add a splash of water if desired. Add ice and shake again, then strain into a rocks glass and add the 3 remaining cucumber rounds for garnish.

P.S. You’re not supposed to serve a sour on the rocks (as pictured) but it was so hot I couldn’t help myself. Gotta love our short summers.

P.P.S. I’m going to be writing more about Cointreau and Cointreau cocktails in an upcoming Spirited Calgary column in the Calgary Herald.