Where is the world's only Cointreau museum

01:00 Mon 19th Nov 2001 |

A.� The Cointreau Museum is in Angers in the Loire Valley in north-west France, and is a dedicated shrine for lovers of the liqueur. It is the latest in a string of museums set up at distilleries at breweries across Europe. They are aiming to become tourist attractions in their own right, rather than just "small visitor centres" attached to a bottling plant. The Talisker distillery on the Isle of Skye is one of the island's most popular attractions. Big name distillers - Guinness, Moet & Chandon, Heineken and Hennessy - are all in the on that act, realising that people will pay to go on tours and usually buy bottles at the end, which all helps bolster their brand.

Q.� What does the museum reveal about Cointreau

A.� The drink was invented by Edouard Cointreau in 1875: the firm is still in the family. A 12-minute film explains how Edouard's family originally produced Guignolet, a cherry-flavoured liqueur. As other companies were making this at the time, he decided to experiment with oranges and the result was Cointreau.

Q.� How is the drink made

A.� The firm produces around 12 million litres of Cointreau every year. They use 2,000 tonnes of orange peel a day - producing 10,000 bottles an hour, 30 million in a year. Around 95 per cent of their production is sold abroad to 200 countries. They use a combination of bitter peels (mainly from Brazil and the Caribbean) and sweet peels (mainly from Spain). It is a blend of bitter oranges from Haiti, Brazil and Spain, sweet oranges from the south west of France and other citrus ingredients. These are macerated in neutral alchol and double distilled in pot stills, before being adjusted with refined sugar and water. It was the liqueur originally used in the first Margarita.�The drink became popular very quickly, winning a host of awards, including gold medals at the World Expositions in Paris.

Q.� Surely the most� famous thing about Cointreau is that ad

A.� It was a huge hit in the UK. At a candlelit dinner, a couple exchange innuedos. "That's a rather large glass," says the smouldering brunette (English actress Jennifer Clulow), with a twinkle in her eye. "Not for what I have in mind," replies her swarthy companion (French actor Christian Toma), before pouring a drink with ice. This series ran for 14 years from 1974.� Sales soared in Britain to over a million litres a year, thanks largely to the success of the ad. It was one of the first major brands to embrace advertising, and led the other way for serial adverts. In 1898 the Lumiere brothers made a black-and-white film showing Pierrot, an Italian clown with a stomach ache, drinking a glass of Cointreau at a cafe - it is believed to be the first on-screen advert in the world. After Pierrot finished, a dreamy look fixes on his face - and then a film of a scantily-clad dancing woman appears upside down, superimposed on the screen.Over the years, a cartoon version of Pierrot became the symbol for Cointreau, although never in Britain where he was considered too ugly. In the 1950s, Pierrot was dropped and Art Nouveau designs of the bottle began to take his place.

Q.� What's the best way to serve Cointreau

A.� Over ice is best. Try a caipirinha - served with crushed ice and lime.

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By Katharine MacColl

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