Sunday, December 16, 2007

Canton Ginger & Cognac Liqueur Launches in LA...

In April of this year, I gushed about my newest all-time favorite product: St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, created by Robert Cooper. Over the course of the year, the deco-chic bottle – and its contents – have become a staple in just about every high-end bar around the world. Elderflower mania.

Meanwhile, who knew that Robert’s brother was working on a stunning new libational contribution of his own?

When I arrived at Culver City restaurant du jour Fraiche, a couple of weeks ago, for a cocktail pairing dinner to launch Canton Ginger & Cognac liqueur, I had not yet realized that my new newest all-time favorite product was directly related to the previous. As I shook hands with John Cooper, it all fell into place.

Canton fuses the force of VSOP cognac (made primarily from Ugni Blanc grapes and aged in French oak), with the sweetness of a liqueur (derived from orange blossom honey and sugar cane), and finishes with the spicy bite of ginger (balanced with Tahitian vanilla and Tunisian ginseng). For me, this combination makes it a stand-alone sipper, and a wonderful mixing ingredient for unique cocktails. (I’ve already used Canton in two Liquid Muse Signature Cocktails, and plan to include it in my personal celebratory Christmas cocktail recipe.)

My favorite of the three cocktails presented at the Fraiche dinner was a Negroni-type drink, which mixes Canton with gin and Campari, which proved a worthy complement to my first-course choice of Beef Tartare atop sourdough fingers.

It is no surprise that the two young Cooper hotshots are taking the liquor industry by storm. They are the third generation in a family of alcohol revolutionaries. According to the brothers, Granddad Maurice Cooper made his mark selling real beer in near-beer casks during Prohibition. After Repeal Day, he went on to acquire the oldest maker of domestic cordials, Charles Jacquins & Cie., first established in 1884.

Later, Maurice’s son N.J. Sky Cooper (Robert and John’s father) entered into the family business, and in the early 1980’s, a fateful trip to France landed him at a little country chateau where a certain raspberry liqueur was concocted. After falling in love with the crimson nectar, Cooper bought the recipe and rights to Chambord and, well, you can figure out the rest. (fyi – Chambord was sold to liquor conglomerate Brown Forman, last year, for an estimated $250 million.)

After completing an MBA at the Wharton school of business, and several years of the spirits industry under his belt, John named his spin-off of the family business Maurice Cooper & Cie., in honor of his grandfather, and launched Canton as its first product.

Today, our generation is witness to liqueur history-in-the-making sprung from the creative gene pool which brought us St. Germain in early 2007, and now Canton Ginger & Cognac Liqueur as year’s close. Like Chambord before them both, St, Germain and Canton are made in France, and Canton blends a little French flare with the exotic flavors of Indochine.

Canton is not available everywhere – yet. It can currently be found in only New York and Los Angeles, with plans for limited expansion in 2008. I feel quite certain that I can assure you, however, that Canton will make its way across the country - and jump both bordering oceans - very quickly.


Anonymous said...

I agree that it may work well in cocktails (I haven't tried yet). But when drunk straight I thinkthere's too thick a layer of honey in the liqueur. The ginger is very strong and complex in the nose, but in the mouth all that's left of the ginger is a certain spiciness, with all the other flavors muted by thick honey. Canton ginger is a great idea, but I wish it had been carried with a little less heavy-handedness on the sweet side. said...

Thanks for your thoughts.

I do understand what you mean about it being sweet. But, I think that works for some people. I like the spicy ginger taste which kicks in at the end, and lingers in the mouth. And, I like the sweetness. I don't always like syrupy sweet liqueurs... but for my tastebuds, this one works quite well.

I welcome thoughts - and appreciate those who offer another point of view.

xo The Liquid Muse

Anonymous said...

I love Canton, and welcome its smooth and spicy nature. It's a great mixer; I'm a big fan of the Strawberry Ginger Martini!

Anonymous said...

I just read about this stuff in InStyle! this Domaine de Canton looks and sounds amazing!