Reconstructing Cointreau

Follow @b_apothecary

In a recent post I deconstructed Cointreau to learn its many mysteries.

I learned Cointreau’s sugar content to tell more about it’s structure. I translated the g/L sugar measure to something volumetric to explain the starting alcohol content before dilution by sugar down to 80 proof. This sounds complicated but I can now reassemble the shell of the liqueur in under a minute.

What I never figured out is the extract intensity of the oranges which I figured I could only do by taste (really rustic recipes say about three oranges).

Well, at the restaurant I got a couple cases of stunning sour oranges and I put all the peels in high proof alcohol to make a flavor concentrate. After a couple weeks, the concentrate was ready to strain and make a few liters of Creole Shrubb with Cointreau’s intuitive to use proportions.

The sugar content was no problem to hit perfectly and getting very close to the correct alcohol content was not that big a deal, but wow is judging the intensity tough.

Orange is such a cloyingly outrageous flavor. As soon as you taste or even smell one sample you have no chance of differentiating the other. You can’t even tweak it in the same sitting. The aroma fills the room and you must revisit everything the next day. Well after patient days I think I nailed a realistic comparison down. No problem except it brings up some more questions.

What does my infusion of orange peels have that Cointreau’s distillate leaves behind? Terpenes?

Do I even want the same intensity as Cointreau? or do I want more? I primarily use Cointreau in tart drinks like Sidecars and Margaritas. Unfortunately, I also primarily deal with people that for some reason can’t handle a classic 2:1:1 Margarita because it is too tart, too refreshing, too subtle & too elegant. The unbalanced nature of cocktails in general makes the Margarita plagued by the sweet-tart phenomenon of amateur dessert wines. The rules of balanced wine says that as sugar and acid increase in a wine, extract has to increase as well or the wine will taste like hollow artificial candy.

In the unbalanced direction driven nature of cocktails, the “sweet-tart” is fun and desirable by some but feared by so many that need to be weaned onto cocktails. If you increase the orange extract could you have squeamish drinkers enjoying classically proportioned Margaritas? I’m going to try and figure it out.

Follow @b_apothecary

3 thoughts on “Reconstructing Cointreau

  1. I think distillation is done in orange liqueurs mostly for shelf stability and consistency.

    And because many citrus fruits are seasonal. If you distill the “perfume” while they are in season, you can then parcel out the concentrate over the remainder of the year, continuing to sell your product.

  2. i don’t know. i’m parceling out my concentrate over the course of the year. its preserved in high proof spirits and full mason jars. i think that cointreau is distilled because they can remove the terpenes easily and for aesthetics. its nice because its clear. orange peels are something that probably comes through the still losing less than other botanicals so there is very little to compromise.

    i chose not to dehydrate my peels because i was putting them in alcohol immediately and i wanted to gain all the minerality of the 70% water peels. whether i really gained much i don’t know.

  3. I am trying the same routine with Meyer lemons and thyme right now. I will report back.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close