Heritage and future: Alfred Cointreau

08 December, 2014

But now in 2014, with liqueurs not perhaps in their pomp, it is up to Alfred Cointreau to modernise and explore the cocktail opportunity. Apparently 350 original recipes have Cointreau as an ingredient so, unlike, many liqueurs the brand has a sound footing in the cocktail world. 

Cointreau compares the journey of the cocktail bar to that of the kitchen. “The bar is a little later in its development but we have a lot of good people and there are bar communities growing in many countries around the world,” he says. 

“Each country has its own cocktail culture. We are only at the beginning. Today it is vintage cocktails – which is good – but I think we can go further and be more modern.” 

Cointreau’s crusade is not only to make the family Triple Sec the go-to orange liqueur in bars, but to help “demystify cocktails” for the average consumer. This requires a lot of travel, shows, education and training, a schedule of work he concedes he won’t want forever. “I am 28 and I do not have children yet but you cannot do this job all your life. Maybe later I will concentrate on one region, not the world.”

Young, bright and grounded, it is likely this Cointreau will achieve great things. He has an understated turn of phrase but doesn’t shy away from subjects. “I would love to take care of Cointreau,” he says. “If I do very well, I would like to take care of some of the other brands in the group too.” 

Cointreau is a careful talker so understanding the degree of his ambition takes a degree of reading between the lines. Could we be looking at a one-day leader of the group? Who knows, but with neither the Cointreaus nor the Dubreuil family of Rémy Martin, at the apex of the Rémy Cointreau group currently, it’s not beyond possibility that one day, there will be a clamour to take leadership back in-family. 

Certainly, Cointreau concedes he will need to climb the pay scale if he is to build on his classic car collection – his love outside of the family business. “In the family we love old cars and motorcycles - but they have to be older than us. It’s the family philosophy. In Paris I drive a Vespa that is from 1984 – I was born in 1986. I also have a Lotus Seven from 1959 but my dream car is a Ferrari F40.”

The interest in cars comes from his father, a mechanic who looked after the Cointreau delivery trucks. “If I leave one day it will be to work on vintage cars,” says Cointreau, but, as he says, somehow we both know this won’t happen. This is a family man who enjoys his name, what it means and how to wear it. “When I go through customs it’s really fun to explain that the name on the bottle is the name on the passport. It’s nice to have the responsibility of the name.”

Cointreau was born in Angers, but only because his father made sure of it. Just days before Cointreau’s mother gave birth, she was driven to the city in the west of France to give birth. 

There is no appellation for triple sec, but if there was, Alfred would have been born into it – and its ways. He is Monsieur Cointreau and will help to lead the brand forward at least until the seventh generation is ready to make its entrance. 

Cointreau lets it slip that the seventh generation could arrive sooner than people think, having heard the news himself just the day before. He didn’t say, but in less than nine months, he will no doubt be driving his wife home to Angers. 

Keywords: Alfred Cointreau

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