The Grand Marnier Crusta, or Grandma Crusta, is an excellent drink filled with subtleties of the primary liqueur, as well as the slight tender sweetness, yet somewhat dry character of Maraschino liqueur, with a light note of sour from the lemon.
While I have yet to get around to the Crusta as a cocktail, suffice to say, I can write that the Grand Marnier is an interesting spin on the Crusta cocktail family as a whole, emphasizing the liqueur, with all of its’ brandy characteristics rooted in the brandy base, rather than augmenting a liquor specifically. The Crusta family of cocktails are drinks that are characterized bye the use of a sugar rim, or in other words a “crust” that goes around the cocktail glass. I will discuss at a later point Crusta cocktails in general however. And I will point out, that in this drink, I am lying about what I put into it: instead of Grand Marnier, I used Gran Gala instead of Grand Marnier. Furthermore, I was lazy when making this drink, and I’ll admit, laziness is not the best quality in a person, but I had a craving for the cocktail and only one mangled lemon from which I had already extracted quite a bit of lemon peel, limiting the total amount I could work with. Ideally, this is a cocktail where you will use a horses neck garnish, but I will talk about this when I finally get around to doing a Horses Neck cocktail, and I’m not being lazy.
The cocktail specifically calls for Grand Marnier, and while it does work, you may want to cut back on the amount of Maraschino liqueur you are using when working with Gran Gala, since Gran Gala has a sort of must like flavor, a very original flavor that is, while at some level similar to Grand Marnier, also exhibiting different nuances and notes. Overall the drink isn’t a poor drink by any stretch of the imagination, when using Gran Gala instead of Grand Marnier, but it just isn’t the same. Gran Gala kinda has flavors more similar to Pisco, and a little bit more orange, so we have to modify the amount of Maraschino put into the drink which heightens that sense of must or a sort of fragrance of age that is not noticeable (at least not as noticeable with Grand Marnier).
I was introduced to this drink by Jason Schiffer at 320 Main, however, I believe that he was using a version presented by Steve Olson and Andy Seymour at aka wine geek, which is a company that educates various people not only in the trade, but also the press and consumers. When searching online, I managed to pull out this specific recipe, which is to be honest, the only one I can find and the one that I am using here.
Grand Marnier was created by Louis-Alexandre Marnier who married Jean Baptiste Lapostolle’s granddaughter (Jay). Lapostolle founded a liqueur distillery in Neauphle-le-Château, which when Marnier became the head of the family, the recipe for Grand Marnier began to be sold in 1880 originally known as Curaçao Marnier (Ibid). This curaçao blended Cognac with the skins of oranges, infusing the Cognac, and then sat in oak barrels to age for an extended period of time. Overall though, the orange flavors are limited more so than with something that is Cointreau, and for that reason I rarely use Grand Marnier in drinks; however, in a drink like this, where it is standing on its own, only to be supplemented and not replaced, the liquor is ideal.
Gran Gala on the other hand is an Italian liqueur which is based off of infusing Italian brandy with orange flavors. It is produced in Italy, from the city of Trieste, which is a port city that is along the Adriatic sea between the border of Italy and Slovakia (GranGala). Italy, like France, has a long standing history with liqueurs and spirits, and so is well known for its own varieties of alcohol, which differ not only by means of the land and what type of grapes are grown, but the choices of spices and herbs that go into the cuisine, and thus how spirits are conceived on a cultural level. The best example of difference would be French and Italian vermouth: while now both kinds are common in each region, thanks to the dissemination of products and ideas, originally these types and styles of vermouth came from specific regions.
While I have already talked about Maraschino, I figure I can give a little bit of the history, which I have yet to actually have done: the liqueur was admired by various nobility, and also by Napoleon. (Girolamo Luxardo S.p.A.) It seems that George IV sent a naval fleet just to try to acquire some cases of Maraschino (Ibid). George V would likewise have a fascinating encounter with the liqueur, and would find it much to his liking, ordering a considerable quantity of the cordial while visiting the factory at Zadar personally (Ibid). Originally created by apothecaries in a Dominican monastery, in what is currently known today as Zadar, Croatia,the liqueur originally was created for medicinal purposes, having medical effects attributed to it, some of which came from the ripe fruits of the marasca cherry, as well as the leaves that would be used in the liqueur (Wikipedia). As I have pointed out before, Luxardo is the staple by which all other Maraschino liqueurs are judged, so you can’t go wrong at all by using Luxardo specifically.
The drink isn’t cloyingly sweet, despite how it might seem, even with the sugar it doesn’t seem to be as sweet as a poorly mixed cocktail, but it is definitely not an aperitif. Because of the Cognac base in the Grand Marnier, it seems like this drink would function better as a digestif. Also, while aperitifs can be strong or high alcohol content drinks, this one because of the high proof of Grand Marnier, seems to function better as a digestif, since the sweetness does mask the alcohol content rather well.
The Grand Marnier Crusta:
1 1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/4 ounce Maraschino liqueur
2 dashes Angustora bitters
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Garnish a half sugar coated glass with a long piece of wide lemon peel, preferably something similar to a Horses Neck. Shake the drink with ice, and strain into the glass.
Jay. May 25, 2008. “Chartreuse.” OhGosh! http://ohgo.sh/archive/mixing-with-orange-liqueurs/ (accessed May 2, 2010).
Société des Produits MARNIER-LAPOSTOLLE. “Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge.” GrandMarnier. http://www.grand-marnier.com/grand-marnier-products/liqueurs/red-ribbon-grand-marnier (accessed May 2, 2010).
STOCK USA Ltd. “Our Heritage.” GranGala. http://www.grangala.com/contact.asp (accessed May 2, 2010).
Wikipedia contributors. “Maraschino.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maraschino (accessed May 2, 2010).