Let me give you two reasons why I love wine & spirits: history & geography. The other day I saw a lonely tortoise shell bottle of Mandarine Napoléon sitting inconspicuously on the liquor store’s shelf. I was intrigued. Why is it called Mandarine Napoléon? But it’s not from France, it’s made in Belgium…wha?
The history of this cognac-based liqueur (via Practically Edible)
“Mandarine Napoléon was developed by a French chemist, Antoine-Francois de Fourcroy (1755-1809), in the early 1800s. Fourcroy, though a chemist, was also a skilled social climber. Rumour had it that he used his connections during the Revolution to send his chief rival chemist, Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, to the guillotine (that didn't stop Fourcroy, though, from delivering the eulogy at Lavoisier's funeral). Fourcroy became a friend of Napoleon; Napoleon even appointed him a Counsellor of State and a Count of the Empire. Fourcroy had almost discovered quinine (used in Tonic Water) but then gave up his research in that area…At the time that Fourcroy invented Mandarine Napoléon, mandarins were still a very exotic fruit in France. The liqueur was officially named Mandarine Napoléon in 1892.”
And the geography...
(also from Practically Edible)
“Mandarin peel from Sicily is chopped finely and steeped in cognac, then filtered, then added to alcohol, sugar, and 21 spices and herbs (they are secret, of course, but supposedly include clover, coriander, cumin and green tea). The alcohol is then distilled three times and aged 3 years before bottling…Though thought of as a French liqueur, it is actually made in Seclin, Belgium by ETS Fourcroy SA company.”
There’s nothing like a little Revolutionary intrigue spiced up with exotic fruit and a liqueur made in Belgium. But wait; it gets even more interesting for us wine lovers (think of this as six degrees of wine). After a few minutes of sherlocking on Google, I discovered that the Fourcroy company was run for many years by Georgy Fourcroy, a direct descendant of the social climbing chemist. Monsieur Georgy Fourcroy just happens to own a Grand Cru Bordeaux Chateau in Saint-Emilion, Ch. Franc-Mayne. And wouldn’t you know it; Franc-Mayne’s consulting
winemaker oenologist is everyone’s favorite Mondovino star, Michel Rolland.
Mandarine Napoléon has a distinctly Sunny-D nose and bittersweet orange-spice flavor. It makes a delightful “Napotonic”
1 Shot Mandarine Napoléon
Pour Mandarine Napoléon into a highball glass over ice cubes. Fill with tonic water, and garnish with orange peels.
I also experimented with it as a flavor in coffee & espresso drinks. A smidgen (i.e. much less than a shot) in my latte complimented the bitter-sweet combination of milk & espresso.
Visit drinksmixer for more Mandarine Napoléon recipes.