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Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao Ancienne Methode

Pierre Ferrand Dry
Curaçao Ancienne


By Robert Plotkin

There are more classic cocktail recipes in the lexicon of mixology that call for the use of Curaçao orange liqueur than any other product. Its spry, zesty flavor is one of the building blocks upon which all of mixology is predicated. With cocktails at the height of popularity and consumers becoming increasingly more discerning, the reality is that relying on just any Curaçao won't do. It plays too important of a role to settle for mediocrity, or worse.

The liqueur's primary mission in a cocktail is to act as a modifier, the all-important ingredient that facilitates the seamless melding of all of the other products into a cohesive, balanced taste sensation. It's this delicate balance that has propelled cocktails to the top of the charts…again.

There are 5 essential characteristics that a world-class Curaçao needs to possess to make it the definitive choice for the role. The liqueur needs to be skillfully balanced, visually engaging, marvelous when sampled neat, brilliant in mixed company, retain its natural bittersweet edge, and most certainly, it must exude style and sophistication. While in the past there has been a slew of options when it comes to orange liqueurs, there hasn't been one that you could conclusively say possessed all 5 of the requisite personality traits—that is until now.

Welcome Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao Ancienne Méthode. Introduced in April 2012, the Curaçao is the creation of Cognac Ferrand's president, Alexandre Gabriel, with help and assistance from spirits historian David Wondrich. The liqueur is made predominantly from dried Curaçao orange peels, lemon and sweet orange peels and a secret blend of spices. The peels and spices are slowly steeped in unaged brandy, after which the infused spirit is redistilled for maximum flavor extraction. That distillate is then blended with brandy and Pierre Ferrand Cognac and aged in oak casks to allow the constituent ingredients to fully integrate. During aging, the blend is re-infused with Curaçao oranges peels to add a bittersweet note. At the end of the artisanal process, the Curaçao is bottled at 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof).

Alexandre Gabriel and his team experimented with more than 50 different recipes dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. In the end, Gabriel reveals that he used what he thought were the best elements of each old recipe.

That Gabriel accomplished his goal is readily apparent for this Curaçao is a masterpiece, an instant classic. The liqueur has a deep amber hue, a lightweight, velvety textured body and a generous bouquet saturated with the aromas of vanilla, dark chocolate, bitter oranges, marzipan and toasted oak. The aromatics alone make this liqueur a national treasure. Its gentle entry gradually swells, filling the mouth with the warm tantalizing flavors of zesty citrus, cocoa, toffee, cinnamon and nutmeg. The finish is long, dry and delectable.

Equally apparent is that Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao has been crafted with clockwork-like precision. It is perfectly balanced and possesses nary a shred of cloying sweetness. It is thoroughly delicious sampled neat and sipped as part of a cocktail. Gabriel thankfully left intact some of the natural bittersweet quality of the Curaçao peels—bitterness being an important aspect of any well-tuned cocktail. And perhaps most important, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao does indeed exude style and sophistication. It's an affordable slice of luxury.

Mixologists have already embraced Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao as a serious game-changer. The liqueur has become indispensable in tall drinks—such as the Mai Tai—punches, juleps, slings and fizzes, not to mention the epitome of classic cocktails, the Sidecar. Each of the aforementioned will taste that much better for having been made with Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao.

The choice is yours. Prepare cocktails and mixed drinks using a conventional orange modifier, or strap a booster to your efforts and make them glorious with Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao. Give it some thought.

À votre santé!