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Cointreau History

Born during the Industrial Revolution and bred of La Belle Époque, Cointreau has innovation in its DNA. From the entrepreneurial flair of a liquorist-distiller who created the House in 1849, to Édouard Cointreau releasing his recipe for a unique French orange liqueur, to more than 300 international awards won since, Cointreau’s rich history is marked by many milestones.

1849–1875

A family affair

1849

Amid the euphoria of the French Industrial Revolution, Adolphe Cointreau, an Angers confectioner at the time, decides to diversify the family business to include liqueurs, starting with a local favorite, the Guignolet. That is when the destiny of the Cointreau distillery begins to take shape.

1849

Drawing on its well-established fruit expertise, the House expands its range to include many flavors: strawberry, plum, cherry, and more. More than 50 essences are marketed, reaching well beyond the scope of regional fruits.

1856

Faced with a boom in the company and in trade, Édouard-Jean Cointreau, Adolphe’s brother, joins the family business. Together, the two brothers move the distillery to Anger’s rue Molière, flanking the Maine River, to promote the export of their liqueurs.

1857

Orange liqueur first appears in the Cointreau brothers’ recipe books and Cointreau receives its first award at the Laval Exhibition in France.

1875

Since he was a child, Édouard Cointreau, son of Édouard-Jean, dreamed of joining the family business. This became a reality in 1875, when he and his wife, Louisa, continued the entrepreneurial adventure.

1875

Édouard refined the House’s focus on the orange, a rare and precious fruit with unheard-of potential at the time, while Louisa focused on developing an avant-garde social policy for employees. The power couple had a clear vision for Cointreau, and were determined to see their venture through.

1885-1893

THE BIRTH OF AN ICON

1885

After several years of relentless research and experimentation, Édouard Cointreau succeeds in creating what he had imagined: a perfectly balanced, crystalline liqueur that’s three times more concentrated in flavor and less sweet than the liqueurs of the time.

1885

The liqueur is the result of a precise blend of dried and fresh sweet and bitter orange peels.
Édouard Cointreau registers trademarks for the Cointreau brand and its distinctive square bottle with the Commercial Court of Angers.

1889

Cointreau installs one of its copper alembics at the World’s Fair in Paris, which draws 32 million visitors. The brand is awarded a medal for the quality of its liqueur.

1891

Cointreau is a member of the jury for the French Exhibition in Moscow, boosting sales in the Tsar Empire.

1893

Cointreau medals at the World’s Fair in Chicago, marking the brands first steps in the Americas.

1898-1922

SPOTLIGHT ON COINTREAU

1898

Cointreau begins its storied advertising saga. The brand sets up an in-house advertising studio, where the beloved “Pierrot Cointreau” character was created by Nicolas Tamagno, a celebrated portrait artist at the time.

1898

The first-ever film commercial in history was also created by an operator for pioneering filmmakers The Lumière Brothers. The spot features the brand’s new mascot, Pierrot.

1900

Cointreau’s growing success is recognized with several awards at the World’s Fair in Paris, this time in front of 50 million visitors.

1902

Cointreau participates in the Hanoi Exhibition and strengthens its position in the Asian market.

1903

The Cointreau Advertising Car hits the road in France, a novel marketing concept devised by Édouard Cointreau.

1906

Cointreau obtains an out-of-competition award at the Milan International Exhibition.

1913

First mention of Cointreau in Der Mixologist by Carl A. Seutter.

1922

The first recipes for The Sidecar, created with Cointreau, appear in Harry MacElhone's Harry's ABC of Mixing Cocktails and Robert Vermeire's Cocktails: How to Mix Them.

1923-1972

THE AGE OF MATURITY

1923

Édouard Cointreau passes away and his legacy is continued by his sons Louis and André, who served as International Salesman and Distillery Director, respectively. Production is modernized and social policies are also introduced, an effort driven by Édouard’s widow, Louisa.

1929

Louisa Cointreau is appointed Knight of the Legion of Honor by the Ministry of War and Chairman of the Angevin Committee of the Union of Women of France. She would be promoted to Officer of the Legion of Honor in 1939.

1948

The emblematic Margarita is created in Acapulco by American socialite Margaret Sames, who famously claimed, “A Margarita without Cointreau isn’t worth its salt.”

1949

Cointreau celebrates its centennial with a parade in Angers, where the company’s “Centenaire Cointreau” chariot rolls through the city streets.

1954

Jean-Adrien Mercier, one of the most celebrated young advertising talents of the time and grandson of Édouard Cointreau, creates “Au clair de la Lune, mon ami Pierrot.” The poster and film campaign shows Harlequin and Colombine with Pierrot—and is the last major campaign featuring the brand’s emblem

1955

The Cointreau Fizz appears in Cocktails by Jean Lupoïu, President of The French Barmen’s Association and bartender at Paris’s Plaza Athenée.

1972

Following strong sales development, the brand inaugurates its new Saint-Barthélemy d’Anjou distillery.

1988-TODAY

THE SAGA LIVES ON

1988

In New York City, Toby Cecchini creates the Cosmopolitan using Cointreau.

1989

In 1989, Cointreau merged with Cognac producer Rémy Martin, creating the powerful international group Rémy Cointreau. The historical agreement was signed in the Cointreau Carré distillery.

2011

Alfred Cointreau, sixth generation of the Cointreau family, is named Brand Ambassador and Heritage Manager. Cointreau also wins gold for Cointreau Noir and bronze for Cointreau Blood Orange Liqueur at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

2016

Carole Quinton named Cointreau’s Master Distiller, “nose” of the House and guardian of the brand’s historic savoir-faire.

2017

Alfred Cointreau publishes Night-Time Walks, a guide to mixology and bars around the world.

2018

Cointreau launches a new international advertising campaign, “The Art of the Mix.” The campaign features a dance inspired by the brand’s four most iconic cocktails—the Margarita, the Cointreau Fizz, the Sidecar, and the Cosmopolitan.

2019

Maison Cointreau celebrates its 170th anniversary.

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