Bill Dowd photoThis time of year always see an uptick in the sales of orange-flavored liqueurs such as Grand Marnier and Triple Sec, mostly for holiday cocktail mixtures. But there is a strong challenger available.
• Gran Gala Triple Orange Liqueur
Like most people who make cocktails, you're probably in the habit of using certain brand names and not even bothering to try any others. Grand Marnier, for example, has been around since 1880 and has long been the benchmark for orange-brandy liqueurs.
In recent months, I've tried Gran Gala, an Italian product from the House of Stock in Trieste, Italy, in a number of cocktails usually calling for Grand Marnier and I've noticed virtually no difference. That surprised me in that I've never made a secret of disliking Stock vermouths, preferring Martini & Rossi Rouge or Noilly Pratt dry because there are discernible differences in both expressions.
Sampled straight as an aperitif or dessert drink, Gran Gala has a bit more of an orange edge, Grand Marnier more sugary tasting, although both liqueurs are abundant with notes of vanilla, caramel, lemon and even butterscotch. The difference lies mostly in the price.
The suggested retail price for Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge 80 is $38, but for Grand Gala it's about $19 for the same size.
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