SB meets… Christophe Prat, Campari Group
Christophe Prat, Campari Group’s French icons managing director, discusses how Grand Marnier liqueur is aiming to become a destination drink, its sustainability targets and upcoming campaigns.
What industry trends are you particularly noticing right now, with regard to the industry and the liqueur category?
The liqueur category is diverse, it allows for a high level of individuality between brands and provides the opportunity to innovate and be unique. For Grand Marnier, our standout quality is the Cognac presence in the liquid. Our leading drink is the Grand Margarita fuelled by the Tequila trend in the US, but there are many other cocktails that Grand Marnier elevates that consumers still need to discover. For example, the Grand Cosmopolitan and the Grand Sidecar.
What challenges is Grand Marnier facing as a brand at the moment?
One challenge we’re facing is onboarding bartenders and consumers to recognise Grand Marnier as the orange liqueur of choice when choosing a spirit to accompany classic cocktail serves. It is a competitive category, and there are brands that have historically owned the monopoly on certain serves, so education is required.
Grand Marnier adds a layer of complexity and sophistication through the Cognac notes and bitter orange aromas that elevate cocktails to the next level. We need to familiarise our audience with these key characteristics and continue to reinforce our authority within the liqueur category as a timeless product with enduring appeal.
Also, Grand Marnier is a well-known brand and well distributed, but it is not used to its full potential because people don’t always know what is inside our bottle. We need to get consumers to discover the alchemy of Cognac and orange liqueur and educate them on how to use it.
Ultimately, we need to make Grand Marnier a destination drink; meaning a drink where Grand Marnier is the main component and not just an ingredient. With its uniqueness and richness of flavours, we firmly believe there is great potential within our range.
How is Grand Marnier working towards sustainability?
Grand Marnier is part of Campari Group’s global sustainability framework which sees the company reducing its environmental impact in the short/medium/long term (-55% greenhouse gas emissions from direct operations by 2025 and an ongoing decline through to 2030, with the aim to achieve zero waste to landfill in all production sites).
We are always looking at ways to operate more sustainably, from production through to distillation. At the moment, we’re looking at our process and how we can reuse everything to limit our impact on the environment.
Master blender Patrick Leger is also working with the Cognac organisation, the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac [BNIC], as part of the scientific management committee to find solutions at each stage of Cognac making, from how we can protect the soils, to how we can build fewer cellars and find solutions for distillation.
Do you have any upcoming launches or campaigns?
Grand Marnier has an exciting quarter ahead as we continue to push our new brand platform, Grand Encounter. After a ‘grand’ launch in the US we are rolling out across the UK and beyond.
Grand Encounter finds its roots in the alchemy of Grand Marnier, a mix of two amazing components, Cognac and bitter oranges, and the collision of these two unlikely elements that creates something magnificent.
To bring the Grand Encounter to life in the UK, we’re partnering with London bar Coupette to launch an international bar takeover for London Cocktail Week.
We’re also teaming up with The Alchemist venues to spotlight our hero serve, the elevated Grand Margarita.
Looking at the wider portfolio, we also have Quintessence at The Ritz London, the only on-trade in the UK where this liquid is available, for now. Quintessence is a masterpiece made of Grand Marnier’s oldest family reserves: Hors D’âge cognacs up to 70 years old, exclusively from Grande Champagne.
Further ahead, 2027 will mark the 200th year of Grand Marnier, and we’re working on something to commemorate this monumental moment for the brand.
How do menu crossovers, such as the recent collaboration with London bar Satan’s Whiskers, elevate the brand? Do you see any results from this?
Menu crossovers continue to reinforce the important role of the bartender for us, and creates the opportunity for them to use Grand Marnier in transforming great to grand cocktails.
In tandem, from a consumer standpoint, spotlighting Grand Marnier in a place that sets trends, like Satan’s Whiskers, allows consumers to connect with the brand in new and innovative ways, educating them on how the liquid can elevate cocktails in a bar and at home.
As a heritage brand, we are proud to have cultivated many great relationships with on-trade venues and the bartenders at the helm. For Satan’s, we worked with senior bartender, Yoann Tarditi, who grew up in the French Riviera, to curate three new serves for Bastille Day that shone a new light on the liquid.
We recently spoke to Patrick Leger, master blender of Grand Marnier liqueur, to discuss his first project, the Exceptional range, and the company’s ambition to become one of the biggest players in Cognac.