On Being Cointreauversial

I really love travelling around the world to our different markets,Alfred Cointreau said.

Written by Shantanu David | Published: December 14, 2013 5:55:31 am

On his first visit to India,Alfred Cointreau talks about working his way up from unloading sacks of orange peels to becoming heritage manager of the liqueur brand.

While most twenty-something-year-olds are still trying to figure out what they want to do in life,Alfred Cointreau had made up his mind since he was a child. “I want to head the operations at Cointreau,and make it the most influential brand in its category. But that’s something one has to work towards,you don’t just get it because of your birth,” says Alfred,talking about the liqueur that bears his family’s name as well as legacy.

Confectioners Adolphe and Edouard-Jean Cointreau started a distillery in Angers,France in 1849,producing spirits made with local fruits. By 1875,Edouard-Jean’s son,Edouard,began distilling an orange-flavoured liqueur,commonly known as triple sec,which would go on to change the landscape of cocktails and mixed drinks (the first recorded recipes for the Cosmopolitan and Margarita,among other cocktails,mention Cointreau by name).

On his first visit to India,“though definitely not the last”,Alfred is the sixth-generation of the family and the heritage manager of what he calls a ‘young brand’.

It didn’t come easy to Alfred,despite his last name. His first year at the brand saw him packed off to a distillery where among other things he unloaded sacks full of orange peels from trucks. He ran around the compound and learned the time-consuming craft of distilling,not that he regrets it. “I learned more in that one year in the distillery than in five years of business school. It also helped me appreciate the work that goes into producing Cointreau and the history behind it,” he said. He was then shunted from purchasing to quality control to R&D departments. He worked with bartenders and mixologists to understand how Cointreau could be employed in cocktails,before becoming heritage manager.

“Basically,my job has two parts. The first is what I call my office job in which I preserve and document the legacy and history of the brand. The second part,which I really love,is travelling around the world to our different markets,interacting with customers and distributors and figuring out how to grow our brand presence. I also work with bartenders from different countries,showing them how they can use Cointreau in their mixes with local ingredients,which also helps increase my own repertoire,” he says. Cheers to that.

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