Exploring France: One Spirit at a Time

The French enjoy their spirits and liqueurs as much as their wine. Think France, think Cointreau, think Grand Marnier and many more that France is home to. Enjoyed earlier as a digéstif or now as a traditional apéro or used as an essential cocktail ingredient, we acquaint you with some noteworthy classics that you could raise a toast with, the next time you Explore France!

Crème de Cassis

A native of Dijon in Burgundy, this ruby red liqueur is made from blackcurrants soaked in alcohol. The crème de Cassis is an essential ingredient in France’s famous Kir Royale cocktail that also includes champagne. Add a dollop of vanilla ice-cream to your crème de Cassis for a different yet delicious result.


They put their apples to good use in Normandy; by making brandy out of it! Calvados or apple brandy is a signature tipple of the Normans. It is produced from distilled cider and aged in oak barrels. Choose to drink your Calvados before your meal as an apéro or a digestif, during your meal or even after your meal with dessert. Add it to your coffee or pair it with a crêpe for best results!


Made of bitter oranges, this triple-sec liqueur was the brainchild of the brothers Cointreau (External link) . Their family-owned distillery can be visited in the Loire Valley. Done up in hues of orange, the distillery also has a boutique where you can shop to your heart’s content. Cointreau is put to good use in cocktails such as the Cosmopolitan or even the Margarita. Make your own cocktail by mixing Cointreau and blue curacao liqueur and topping it up with Sprite. Voilà, you have a perfect summer cocktail!


Named after the town Cognac that produces it, the production of this French brandy remains unchanged for over 300 years. For a brandy to be called Cognac, it must be made of specified grape varieties only. Did you know that Cognac must contain 40% alcohol and that the designations you see on Cognac labels—VS (Very Special), VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) and XO (Extra Old)—are a guarantee of how long a Cognac has been aged?


Produced in the Armagnac region of Nouvelle Aquitaine, this cousin of the Cognac is the oldest distilled brandy in all of France and was consumed in the past for its health benefits. Put a dash of Armagnac in a cocktail or enjoy it with coffee or dessert. To best enjoy an Armagnac, take small sips and let it roll around your mouth before you swallow. Inhale after you swallow to best appreciate the finish!

Grand Marnier

A blend of cognac and the essence of distilled oranges, enjoy this citrusy flavoured liqueur as an apéritif with a cube of ice if you like your liqueur chilled. The Grand Marnier (External link) is also used in desserts and pastries. The very legendary Crêpe Suzette is flambéed in the Grand Marnier before it is served across tables in France!


If you find yourself in the Alps Mont-Blanc region, then try some Chartreuse (External link) . Made by Carthusian Monks and named after the Grande Chartreuse monastery in the region, Chartreuse is a green or yellow coloured drink made up of distilled alcohol aged with an astounding 130 varieties of herbs, plants and flowers. Drive away the chill of winter with a Green Chaud – hot chocolate topped with a generous helping of Chartreuse!


Pastis or "petit jaune" in local parlance, is a gold-tinted aniseed drink that is typical to Marseille and and is served at every bar and bistro and by every good host. The locals consume it with cold water to drive away the summer heat. Get the most out of your pastis with an olive pairing or delectable tapenades. Looking to buy your bottle? We recommend either Pernod or Ricard, the two best-selling Pastis brands.

*We advise you to drink responsibly and consume alcohol in moderation.