So many sophisticated cocktails have Grand Marnier liqueur in them, and now it’s easy to make a homemade version!
All it takes are a few basic ingredients and a simple technique to make this fantastic Grand Marnier substitute! Cognac or brandy liqueur is tinged with a hint of citrusy bitter orange. This Homemade Grand Marnier recipe is the best way to up-level everything from coffee to cocoa to all kinds of cocktails. Learn how to make the best liqueur ever, right at home, with this easy brewing method that’s ready to use in no time.
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What is Grand Mariner?
Grand Marnier is a brandy based liqueur with an light orange flavor. It’s slightly sweet with a slightly strong finish. Grand Marnier was started in 1880 in a fruit distillery in Neauphle-le-Château, a small city outside of Paris. It was an idea originated by Louis-Alexandre Marnier, who had a novel idea to combine French cognac with a bitter orange from the Caribbean.1
- Prepare this Grand Marnier recipe and package it in small, elegant bottles for friends and family as a special gift!
- Sip Grand Marnier on its own neat, on the rocks, or warmed up. It warms easily for 15-30 seconds in the microwave. Serve in a snifter for a warm and cozy drink, perfect for drinking apres-ski, or by the fire wrapped in a cozy blanket.
- Add it to any hot or cold drink. Every home bar set-up needs a bottle of Grand Marnier! Cointreau is a suitable substitute for Grand Marnier but it won’t have that smooth, aged finish.
- Similar to Cointreau or Triple Sec because of its orange flavor, Grand Marnier is a combination of both liqueurs and adds a heady, rich flavor to nearly any libation from margaritas to shots and even bubbly Prosecco for a fancy toast!
Ingredients & Variations
BRANDY: The base of the best Grand Marnier recipe starts with brandy. Often, it is said “the better the quality, the better the result.” If you’d like, choose a top-shelf, aged Cognac or brandy. Cognac is distinctively French, so it’s smoother (and pricier!), but a quality VS (Very Special) brandy will do, especially if you are making Grand Marnier for the first time.
We’ve done tests using 5 types of brandy, at the same time, and did taste tests. While each type of brandy tastes slightly different in the final product, the more expensive cognacs didn’t prove to be “twice as nice” as the more reasonably priced ones. So for your first time, as mentioned, a nice VS brandy will do just fine!
FLAVORINGS: Grand Marnier liqueur needs sugar, an orange, and some lemon zest. Superfine sugar will dissolve more quickly. Be sure to scrub and dry the navel orange and lemon before using to remove any chemicals or wax that may have been applied to the peels during transportation to the market. A clean, organic cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, or a couple of star anise pieces can be added to the mixture for some depth of flavor and a little variation on the regular taste.
How to Make Grand Mariner
This festive looking jar will look beautiful on the pantry shelf while it marinates, and prep is so easy!
- Combine brandy, sugar, and lemon zest in a large jar (as per recipe below).
- Suspend the orange over the brandy and close the jar tightly.
- Swirl the jar so the orange gets coated with the brandy and then shake or swirl the jar a few times a day for 10 to 12 days. Swirling the jar daily mixes the orange essence into the brandy, which is where the lovely orange flavor comes from.
- Once ready, discard the orange and twine.
- Strain the liqueur and store in bottles at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Must Try Tips & Tricks
- Use twice as much twine so you won’t have to pierce the orange more than once. A turkey lacer makes an excellent ‘needle.’
- Do not steep longer than 12 days. If the orange appears to be discolored or mushy, remove it, strain, and store per recipe directions.
- Always start with clean fruits, a clean jar free of detergent residue, and clean hands. If the mixture gets polluted, it will spoil and you’ll have to start all over again.
- Store homemade Grand Marnier liquor in a cool, dark place with other spirits and liqueurs and it will last in the refrigerator up to a year.
Best Grand Marnier Cocktails
While there are cocktails that Grand Marnier is specially made for, there are others that it makes a tasty substitute. Switch out the Triple Sec and make a delish Strawberry Margarita with Grand Marnier (and remember to add the float too!). And for a fun shot, use Grand Marnier in a B-52. Try the stunning Irish Flag shooter, or add a splash of Grand Marnier to a Sidecar, Manhattan, and even a cool glass of Creamy Lemonade or iced tea by the pool!
More Drink Recipes
- Rhubarb Liqueur – savor the summer flavors
- Cherry Margaritas – a drink for those warm summer nights.
- Candy Corn Martini – a creative way to celebrate Halloween.
- Boozy Shamrock Shake – delicious grown up version.
Homemade Grand Marnier
- 26 ounces brandy or cognac
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons lemon zest zest of 1 lemon
- 1 orange large navel orange is best
- In a large jar, combine brandy, sugar, and lemon zest. The sugar may not all dissolve at first.
- Thread kitchen twine through the center of the orange*. Suspend the orange 1 inch above the surface of the brandy**.
- Shake the jar to coat the orange in the brandy, and then shake the jar 3-4 times per day for 10-12 days***. The droplets (essential oils) on the outside of the orange should be mixed into the brandy (and the sugar will dissolve).
- After the grand marnier is ready, discard the orange and twine. Using a funnel and cheesecloth strain the grand marnier (to remove the lemon zest).
- Store grand marnier in bottles or jars. Will keep for a few months at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.