Does Grand Marnier Go Bad? (And How Long Can It Last)


Does Grand Marnier Go Bad

A combination of cognac and a single variety of orange essence is distilled to create a unique liqueur.   There are five varieties of Grand Marnier, each blending a different percentage of cognac and liqueurs.  Each has 40% alcohol by volume and a distinct flavor.  The most common variety has roughly 51% cognac and 49% orange liqueur.  Served on the rocks or in a variety of mixed cocktails, how long does this liqueur last? 

Grand Marnier has a distinct shelf life.  Its longevity is due to its high alcohol content and depends on whether it is opened or sealed and how it is stored.  Unopened Grand Marnier stored in a cool, dark place lasts eight years or more.  Once opened, it should be consumed within nine months.  After that, it will lose its intensity.

Grand Marnier has a high alcohol content at 80 proof.  That puts it up there with vodkas, tequilas, and rums. Let’s explore Grand Marnier, its shelf life, how to store it to preserve the flavors, and some other orange-flavored liqueurs you might enjoy as well.

Does Grand Marnier Go Bad Over Time?

Liqueurs age well when stored in special oak vats made for the purpose.  The barrels regulate the air, and the oak provides protection from elements.  Once it is placed in bottles and sealed, the aging process stops.  Unlike a fine wine, liqueurs keep consistency for a period of time.  It is recommended that you drink a bottle of Grand Marnier within about eight years.  After that, the sugars in the liqueur may start to break down.  The flavors are not guaranteed to be as intense.  Once the Grand Marnier is opened, enjoy it within about nine months.

How Can You Tell If Grand Marnier Has Gone Bad?

When you open a bottle of Grand Marnier, it has a distinct aroma of fine cognac and orange essence.  If it loses its seal or is opened, the alcohol mixes with the air and so begins the process of aging (not in an ideal way).  

If you are a connoisseur of Grand Marnier, you will have a gut feeling about the freshness of your drink.  If it is bad and you smell it, it may have an unpleasant odor.  The richness of the orange scent may have faded.  

Using your sense of taste, the less than ideal Grand Marnier will have lost its smooth flavor and might taste unpleasant as well.  Using your sense of sight, when you pour it into a glass, you will notice a faded color, or it just won’t look right.  

While you may be disappointed, you are welcome to drink it anyway, but it’s probably worth opening a new bottle and consuming a drink you thoroughly enjoy.

How to Properly Store Grand Marnier

To avoid the unpleasantries of an unsavory glass of Grand Marnier, there are things you can do to ensure a longer shelf life.

  1. Light is an enemy of liqueurs. That’s why most are sold in dark amber bottles.  When purchasing liqueurs, if it is possible, procure it from a merchant that also keeps it in a darker display.  The harsh lights of stores can reduce the overall shelf-life of the product.
  2. If there is a date on the label, check that to see when it was manufactured.  The more recent, the longer it will last in your cabinet.
  3. Once you get it home, choose a dark cabinet in a cool area.  Heat is the other enemy.  You do not have to store it in the refrigerator or freezer.  Enjoy it at room temperature.
  4. Since Grand Marnier is made from cognac, which is made from grapes, and is sealed with a cork, some suggest that you store the unopened bottle on its side.  This keeps the cork moist and plump, ensuring the seal does not break before you intend it to.
  5. Once you open a bottle of Grand Marnier, the air is your enemy.  Keep the bottle stored in a dark, cool place until it is consumed.  

Does Grand Marnier Go Bad After Opening?

Yes, Grand Marnier should be enjoyed within nine months of breaking the seal on the bottle.  After this time, the flavors will not be at their peak.  When you enjoy a drink on occasion, you should be able to enjoy it thoroughly.  When you mix it with other ingredients in a cocktail, the fresh flavors should meld into perfection.  Grand Marnier comes in several sizes.  Choose one that you will be able to enjoy within those nine months.  

Can You Get Sick From Drinking Old Grand Marnier?

No, some people have consumed Grand Marnier that is many years old with no ill effects.  As mentioned earlier, Grand Marnier won’t get better with age, and it might taste or smell off, but it will not make you sick.  If you run across a bottle that you forgot about or was given to you, the best advice is to open it and enjoy it.  If you have an opened bottle, sniff it and taste it.  Toss it and open a new bottle if it’s not quite right.  You deserve it!

Alternatives to Grand Marnier

While each liqueur has a distinct flavor and tradition, these alternatives are worth trying for variety.  If you don’t like them, go back to your original choice.  Remember, small bottles or samples are available for most liqueurs.  The shelf life for the alcohol alternatives is very similar to Grand Marnier.

Cointreau

Cointreau is the closest substitute to Grand Marnier with the same alcohol by volume. It’s been around a bit longer and is a mix of Remy Martin’s cognac with sweet and bitter orange peel essences.  Instead of a single orange variety, it uses a combination.  The aroma and taste span the senses – from zesty to spicy to fruity to vegetal and everywhere in between.

Chambord

Instead of orange, Chambord combines XO Cognac with black raspberry flavors (actually raspberries, blackberries, and black currants), Moroccan Citrus Peel, Madagascan Vanilla, Honey, and Spices.  The result is a smooth taste and beautiful color that can be sipped by itself or added to cocktails.  

Orange Curacao

From Senior Liqueur, the golden orange of Curacao (a Caribbean island) is distilled to make a 31% alcohol by volume liqueur.  It is not mixed with cognac during the process.  It can be sipped alone or mixed with cocktails in place of Triple Sec.  

Combier Triple Sec

There are many varieties of Triple Sec, with many having a very long shelf life.  Combier is one of the most renowned.  From France (this seems to be a trend with delicious orange liqueurs), Combier Triple Sec has been made since 1834 and is thought to be the world’s first Triple Sec.  They manufacture three varieties – the original Combier Liqueur D’orange, Royal Combier Grand Liqueur with added spices, and Combier Le Blue – a blue Curacao.

Orange Juice Concentrate

If you are using a recipe that calls for Grand Marnier and want to skip the kick, add orange juice concentrate.  Usually found in the frozen food aisle, it is mixed with water to create orange juice to drink.  Alone, it can add an intense orange flavor to baked goods or drinks.  Frozen cans of concentrate will last a couple of years in your freezer.  Once you add water and make orange juice, drink it within several days.

Nielsen-Massey Pure Orange Extract, with Gift box, 4 ouncesPure Orange Extract

When baking, a second option is an orange extract – think vanilla extract, but with the orange flavor. It’s a great way to add flavor to baked goods, coffees, or just about anything.  A small bottle goes a long way and will keep for quite a while in your pantry.

Related Questions

Does Grand Marnier have Sugar?

Yes, Grand Marnier has about 6 grams of sugar per serving.  Some sugars are added to the original recipe, along with the cognac and orange peels.  Some of this remains in the final product.  There is no fat, and it’s relatively low in calories.  Due to the carbohydrate content, Grand Marnier is not recommended on a keto diet.  You can, however, make your own triple sec substitute with vodka, Ever clear, orange peel, a simple syrup made with allulose, and orange extract.  This recipe is keto-friendly and an excellent substitute for your cocktails.  

How can I use Grand Marnier?

Besides drinking it straight, Grand Marnier is used in numerous cocktails such as a Sidecar, Mai-Tai, Margarita, and B-52.  Grand Marnier is also used in cooking Crepes Suzettes, soufflé, syrups, truffles, and cakes.  Some people add it to their cafe au laits as well.

Is Grand Marnier Gluten-free?

Grand Marnier is safe for those with celiac disease as it does not contain any ingredients that contain gluten.  The main ingredients in Grand Marnier are cognac, which is made from varieties of white grapes and orange peels.  Just remember to drink it straight or choose to mix it with other gluten-free ingredients.

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Kimberly Burton

Kim Burton is a certified Nutrition Coach and freelance writer living in the mountains of Colorado. She believes in a Qualitarian diet and that the path to a healthy lifestyle begins inside of each one of us. After years of struggling with her own health, she found that changing the way she eats and moves made all the difference. She uses what she learns to empower others to think of food as medicine.

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