1849–1875: A FAMILY AFFAIR
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.
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.
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.
Orange liqueur first appears in the Cointreau brothers’ recipe books and Cointreau receives its first award at the Laval Exhibition in France.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Cointreau is a member of the jury for the French Exhibition in Moscow, boosting sales in the Tsar Empire.
Cointreau medals at the World’s Fair in Chicago, marking the brands first steps in the Americas.
1898-1922: SPOTLIGHT ON COINTREAU
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.
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.
Cointreau’s growing success is recognized with several awards at the World’s Fair in Paris, this time in front of 50 million visitors.
Cointreau participates in the Hanoi Exhibition and strengthens its position in the Asian market.
The Cointreau Advertising Car hits the road in France, a novel marketing concept devised by Édouard Cointreau.
Cointreau obtains an out-of-competition award at the Milan International Exhibition.
First mention of Cointreau in Der Mixologist by Carl A. Seutter.
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
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.
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.
The emblematic Margarita is created in Acapulco by American socialite Margaret Sames, who famously claimed, “A Margarita without Cointreau isn’t worth its salt.”
Cointreau celebrates its centennial with a parade in Angers, where the company’s “Centenaire Cointreau” chariot rolls through the city streets.
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.
The Cointreau Fizz appears in Cocktails by Jean Lupoïu, President of The French Barmen’s Association and bartender at Paris’s Plaza Athenée.
Following strong sales development, the brand inaugurates its new Saint-Barthélemy d’Anjou distillery.
1988-TODAY: THE SAGA LIVES ON
In New York City, Toby Cecchini creates the Cosmopolitan using Cointreau.
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.
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.
Carole Quinton named Cointreau’s Master Distiller, “nose” of the House and guardian of the brand’s historic savoir-faire.
Alfred Cointreau publishes Night-Time Walks, a guide to mixology and bars around the world.
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.
Maison Cointreau celebrates its 170th anniversary