2010 Epcot International
Food & Wine Festival

Taste, Shake and Indulge
Like the French
Grand Marnier Tasting

Grand Marnier

Taste, Shake and Indulge
Like the French
Grand Marnier Tasting

Bistro de Paris

by Debra Martin Koma
Senior Editor, AllEars®

Saturday, October 2, 2010

$45 + tax

Grand Marnier Representative

Antoine Gervais


Grand Mimosa

Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge

Grand Marnier Cuvee Centenaire

Grand Marnier Cuvee Cinq Centenaire

Grand Smash

Crepes Suzette

Souffles Glaces au Grand Marnier

I am, admittedly, not a liqueur lover -- I really don't care for sweet drinks at all, so I've tended to shy away from Grand Marnier over the years, lumping it in that "too sweet for me" category. Still when I saw the new "Taste, Shake and Indulge Like the French" offering at this year's Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, I decided to try it. Am I ever glad that I did.

The premise of the experience is that you will TASTE several different types of Grand Marnier, you will SHAKE your own mixed drink using Grand Marnier, then finally you will INDULGE in delicious desserts, Crepes Suzette and Souffles Glaces au Grand Marnier, all for a mere $45 plus tax. Sounds good, right? And it is!

I attended this program, which is held in Epcot's Bistro de Paris restaurant, upstairs at the France pavilion, on Saturday, October 2. Our host for the afternoon, the charming Antoine Gervais, Business Director of Grand Marnier at Moet Hennessy USA, greeted us as we took our seats (tables were assigned in advance). The tables were set attractively for six. Each place setting featured its own shaker, ice strainer and muddler, as well as a small bottle of Grand Marnier, a plate of lemon wedges and mint leaves, and another of madeleines, dried orange peel and a small square of dark chocolate. As we were getting settled, servers came around to serve us a tall Grand Mimosa cocktail -- your typical mimosa is orange juice and champagne, while these luscious drinks boasted an extra shot of Grand Marnier.

Grand Marnier Tasting
Grand Marnier Tasting

As with many of these demos, the success or failure lies with the personality of the presenter, and in this case we hit the jackpot. As led by Gervais, the lively 90-minute program took us through the history of Grand Marnier, which I learned is a blend of cognacs, flavored with the essence of a particular tropical orange, then aged in French oak casks. Originally called Curacao Marnier, due to its orange flavor (Marnier is the family name), it is reportedly the famous hotelier Caesar Ritz who came up with the name Grand Marnier. Along the way, we were urged to try the various types of Grand Marnier that had been poured in front of us: Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge, the original liqueur; Grand Marnier Cuvee Centenaire, started in 1927 to commemorate the company's 100th anniversary; and Grand Marnier Cent Cinquentenaire, launched in 1977 to observe the company's 150th anniversary. Just as the color of each of these three samples was successively darker, so was the flavor of each progressively richer and smoother. While the Cordon Rouge had a clear burst of orange and the fire of cognac as you sipped, the last of three samples, the Cent Cinquentenaire, was by far the smoothest and easiest to drink, and interestingly had the most subtle orange flavor. Each of the samples suggested hints of spiciness and even nuttiness, which was surprising to me, as I had just assumed the taste would be orange and cognac, period.

Grand Marnier
Antoine from Grand Marnier

After our history lesson (one of the most entertaining I've had in a long time), Gervais directed us to be our own mixologists for the next phase of the program. He called a "volunteer" from the audience to assist him in making an old-time cocktail called a Grand Marnier Smash (recipe below). We had to muddle the lemon wedges and mint, shake the mixture with Grand Marnier and ice, and then strain and pour, amid much laughter and some mishaps (yes, a few drinks were spilled in the process, mine included!).

Grand Marnier Smash

The final act of the afternoon was the serving of our "indulgences" -- the crepes suzette and souffles glaces. After Gervais and the restaurant manager made a big show of presenting a fire extinguisher "just in case", servers attended several stations around the room and began preparing the crepes. After the big flambe, we were served our attractively arranged plates of a crepe with orange segments, and the creamy frozen souffle treat. Those of us who had remembered to save a bit of our Grand Marnier paired the desserts with the liqueur, appreciating how they perfectly complemented each other.

Making Crepes
Making Crepes

I came away with a greater appreciation of this spirit, and certainly look forward to trying it again on my own. I also came away with a nice gift bag, which contained a small plastic shaker, container, coaster, and recipe booklet, all bearing the Grand Marnier logo. The event is only offered on Saturdays in October, so if you can book it for an upcoming trip, I urge you to do so. You might make the same delicious discovery -- that Grand Marnier is pretty darn good -- that I did.

Crepes and Souffle Glaces
Grand Marnier Gift Bag

Recipe for Grand Smash:

What you need:
1½ oz. Grand Marnier
4 chunks fresh lemon (½ lemon)
6-8 mint leaves

How to make it:
1. Muddle mint leaves and lemon wedges in a tall mixing glass.
2. Add Grand Marnier and ice and shake vigorously.
3. Strain over ice in a rocks glass and garnish with a fresh mint sprig.


Taste, Shake, and Indulge Like the French Hosted by Grand Marnier

Description: The number one french liqueur, family owned and operated since 1827, offers the unique experience to taste its range of exceptional Cognac-based liqueurs. Following the tasting, become your own mixologist and learn how to muddle and shake like a pro, and later indulge in the famous Crepes Suzette and Soufflés Glacés au Grand Marnier made by the Chefs of Bistro de Paris.

Where: Bistro de Paris, France Pavilion at Epcot

When: Select Saturdays from 2:30 – 4 p.m.
October 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30

Price: $45.00 per person, plus tax, gratuity included – Theme Park admission required.

Call: 407-WDW-FEST for reservations