Orange Curaçao, the Bartender's Ketchup?

On Pierre Ferrand and the dawn of a new, improved curaçao

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Some say that orange liqueur is a bartender’s ketchup, used to add a tangy accent to many cocktails. But just as ketchup can be a little too sweet, so are most orange liqueurs. Somehow, the drier-tasting, natural products of the late 1800s evolved into the synthetic, iridescent orange or blue curaçaos of today. This is why one of the most exciting new products to hit shelves this spring is Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao Ancienne Methode.

This sophisticated take is brought to you from Pierre Ferrand Proprietor Alexandre Gabriel with consultation from cocktail historian David Wondrich. It’s based on a 19th-century recipe made from the peels of curaçao oranges and spices, blended with brandy and Pierre Ferrand cognac. Curaçaos look and taste quite repugnant, but their pocked and puckered peels contain oils that give off a delightful fragrance when dried in the sun. Ferrand adds 14 other botanicals that serve to push the true orange flavors into the spotlight.

This liqueur smells like marmalade and truly tastes of authentic, bitter orange. Flavors of black tea, vanilla, and cocoa round it out with a toasty, slightly sweet finish. In tasting several cocktails, I noticed that the brightness of the Dry Curaçao highlights certain flavors of the other ingredients in ways other orange liqueurs fall short.

Click here for 3 favorite cocktail recipes with dry curaçao.

— Amanda Schuster, The Spir.it