4 Ways to Take the Traditional Margarita From ‘Good’ to ‘Grand’ With Grand Marnier

When you think of summer, perhaps thoughts of coconut-scented sunscreen, bathing suits, and cold cocktails come to mind. Whatever the case may be, the allure of the fun, citrusy Margarita remains the undefeated warm-weather libation of choice. Historically, imbibers’ attention to citrus and sour cocktails peaks in April, May, and June. According to Drizly consumer insights, Margaritas are the most popular cocktail in the United States. Moreover, according to a Salsify consumer research study, 40 percent of consumers say high-quality ingredients matter most to them.

Bottom line: The nation loves a good Margarita crafted with top-shelf spirits and quality ingredients. And the Margarita is where the orange-forward Grand Marnier liqueur truly shines. The fresh lime juice pairs perfectly with the orange notes in Grand Marnier, and the Cognac in the blend adds depth and complexity, creating an intriguing take on the classic Margarita.

Especially for spring and summer, Grand Marnier encourages us to taste their twist on tradition through the signature Margarita and its playful riffs.

A Citrus Appeal with Audacious Roots

Grand Marnier was created almost two centuries ago, in 1827, when Jean Baptiste Lapostolle built a premium fruit liqueurs distillery in Neauphle-le-Château, a small city outside of Paris. His original distillery quickly gained an excellent reputation for producing high-quality spirits.

In 1876, Julia, the granddaughter of Jean Baptiste Lapostolle, married Louis-Alexandre Marnier. The Marnier family were wine merchants who distributed Lapostolle’s products. The matrimony of Julia and Louis-Alexandre gave birth to La Maison Marnier Lapostolle. Four years later, in 1880, Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle had the audacious idea to combine Cognac with a rare variety of Caribbean oranges. This unexpected, “grand” encounter of flavors marked the beginning of Grand Marnier liqueur. Now, nearly 150 years later, it’s clear that the recipe — which has remained unchanged since its inception — has withstood the test of time.

So, how does Grand Marnier create its beautiful, flavorful spirit?

The start of the process kicks off with the careful hand-picking of oranges at their aromatic peak while they are still green. The orange peels dry in the sun — a vital process that preserves the flavor of the essential oils found in their skin. The dried peels are then sent to the distillery at the Château de Bourg-Charente location.

The quality of the peels is checked at the Château de Bourg-Charente. The peels are then rehydrated by soaking in water for 24 hours before the white part — the albedo — is separated from the zest. The zest is then macerated in neutral alcohol for up to eight days to draw the oils out. Then, through slow distillation, the flavor from each peel is concentrated, and voila! Grand Marnier is perfect as a standalone sip or a top-shelf cocktail component.

In 1970, Grand Marnier greatly expanded its exports, primarily to the States. Subsequently, the Grand Margarita became a big hit in the ‘80s during a cocktail revival. Now, the cocktail world has entered a renaissance where anything goes — as long as it’s an enjoyable drinking experience.

Ready to embark on your tasting adventure? We’ve got you covered with four easy-to-enjoy (and easy-to-make) Margaritas using Grand Marnier.

The Grand Margarita

Grand Marnier Grand Margarita

Adding Grand Marnier gives this classic cocktail a zesty orange kick on the palate with plenty of depth from the Cognac. The combination of aged Espolòn Reposado Tequila and Grand Marnier provides a distinct, luxurious taste.


● ¾ ounce Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
● 1 ½ ounces Espolòn Reposado Tequila
● ¾ ounce fresh lime juice
● ¼ ounce agave nectar
● Garnish: lime wheel. Salt optional


  1. Combine ingredients in a shaker tin, add ice, and shake.
  2. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice and garnish with a lime wheel.

Grand Marnier Lemon Basil Margarita

Grand Marnier lemon basil margarita
Fresh basil, tangy orange, and sour lemon are the epitome of what a sunny day tastes like. This bright, classy cocktail has a citrus bite, with subtle sweet and salty notes that will easily impress your BBQ cookout guests. Grand Marnier’s Cognac base adds a sophisticated depth that showcases the vivid basil and lemon flavors, resulting in a grounded and nuanced Margarita.


● 1 ounce Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
● 2 ounces Espolòn Blanco Tequila
● 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
● ¼ ounce simple syrup
● 4 basil leaves
● ½ sugar and ½ salt mixture, for rim


  1. Combine ingredients in a shaker tin, add ice, and shake.
  2. Double strain over fresh ice in a coupe glass.
  3. Garnish with a lemon wheel and basil sprig.

Grand Marnier Blood Orange Margarita

Grand Marnier blood orange margarita
Meet your new favorite Margarita riff. Enjoy complex citrus notes from the blood orange purée, bittersweet and oaky subtleties from the Cognac in Grand Marnier, and tequila’s characteristic agave-forward taste.


● 1 ounce Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
● 1 ½ ounce Espolòn Blanco Tequila
● ¾ ounce lime juice
● 1 ounce Boiron Blood Orange Purée
● For rim: salt


    1. Combine ingredients in a shaker tin, add ice, and shake.
    2. Strain over fresh ice in a coupe glass with half salt rim.
    3. Garnish with an orange peel.

Grand Marnier Spicy Watermelon Margarita

Grand Marnier spicy watermelon margarita

What spice lover doesn’t appreciate a chili salt rim? This peppery pour has a dash of sweetness from the fresh watermelon juice, a hint of heat from the chili salt, and a layer of smoked elegance from the Cognac in Grand Marnier liqueur. The result? A flavor-filled cocktail that gives a “Hey there, beach weather!” vibe.


● 1 ounce Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
● 2 ounces Espolòn Blanco Tequila
● 1 ounce fresh lime
● 1 ounce fresh watermelon juice
● ¼ ounce agave syrup
● Garnish: chili salt topped watermelon wedge


  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake.
  2. Strain into a rocks glass over rocks ice.
  3. Garnish with watermelon wedge and chili salt.

This article is sponsored by Grand Marnier.