ANGERS: THE CRADLE OF COINTREAU
Angers and oranges.
It’s a story that flows back to Renaissance times, when the first golden fruits arrived in the city on river boats.
By the 18th century, Angers was home to 17 orange merchants. Life is sweet here, amid the orchards and streams of the Val de Loire, “Garden of France.” Generations of distillers flourished in the ducal city, the fame of their exquisite spirits spread far and wide.
'In 1849 the Cointreau family – settled in Angers since 1614 – founded its namesake distillery.'
Even now, every bottle of Cointreau – all 15 million produced each year – hails from Angers, distilled in the purest tradition of French Art of living.
With the Industrial Revolution in full swing, Adolphe Cointreau, a confectioner by trade, joined forces with his brother Édouard-Jean to create the Cointreau family distillery. In 1852 Maison Cointreau launched its first orange liqueur: a curaçao derived from the peels of bitter oranges.
But it was Édouard, scion of the second generation, who in the early years of the Belle Époque invented Cointreau L’Unique.
Inspired and imaginative, Édouard Cointreau also designed the liqueur’s iconic bottle: its elegant, faceted form a homage to the flacons of luxurious French perfumes.
Not incidentally, the innovative four-sided shape makes the bottle easy to ship, and the amber-colored glass shields the liqueur from light, thus preserving its aromatic essence.
Édouard promoted his creation with tireless zeal. In 1885, he oversaw the original poster design for Cointreau L’Unique.
With the pioneering Lumière brothers in 1898, he shot the first commercial film featuring Pierrot, Cointreau’s iconic mascot.
The famous Cointreau motor car made its appearance in 1902.
Cointreau stepped on to the world stage at the Universal Expositions of 1889, held in Paris. With his unfailing flair for showmanship, Édouard displayed his creation along with an enormous copper alambic, imported from the Angers distillery.
Such energy and inventiveness bore fruit: at his death in 1923, Édouard had expanded the presence of Cointreau throughout Europe and across the seas.
Édouard also had a not-so-secret weapon as he set out to conquer the world with his orange liqueur: his spouse, Louisa – champion of women’s rights, recipient of the Légion d’Honneur in 1929.
André and Louis Cointreau, their sons, took up the baton in their turn and continued the brand’s international expansion.
Alfred Cointreau represents the sixth generation and pursues the family tradition. Cocktail connoisseur, and brand ambassador since 2011 to the global community of elite mixologists.'
Maison Cointreau remains true to its philosophy of working as a family. Master Distiller Carole Quinton, sixth of the line, has upheld that ethos since her arrival in 2016.
The distillation of Cointreau is a multi-sensorial experience: hands monitor the heat of the stills; ears listen, alert to the ebb and flow; noses inhale the sweet heart of the distillate; palates judge the balance of aromas and eyes verify the liqueur’s unique crystalline brilliance.
Like a winemaker walking along the rows of a vineyard, tending to her grapes, I must see and feel everything that happens in the distillery.