The distillery that produces Cointreau was first set up in 1849 by a confectioner called Adolphe Cointreau and his brother Edouard-Jean Cointreau from Anger, France. They first started producing a cherry liqueur called Guignolet, but it was not until they started manufacturing a beverage that was a blend of sweet and bitter orange pells and pure alcohol made from sugar beets that their real success started. In 1875, the first bottles of Cointreau were sold, the estimated sales now are thirteen million bottles each year, sold in over 150 countries and 95% of the production exported.
Cointreau is a brand of triple sec liqueur, a type of liqueur which gets its flavoring from orange peels and is then distilled three times. The production of this drink is still located in a suburb of the western city of France called Angers known as Barthélemy-d'Anjou. Cointreau can be used either as an apéritif, a type of drink made to stimulate the appetite before a meal, or a digestif, a type of drink made to aid the digestion after a meal. Cointreau has a high alcohol by volume level (40%) to be a triple sec liqueur, which usually has 15% to 20% ABV, but the beverage is considered a premium brand triple sec or sometimes even an unique category of liqueur.
The Cointreau Distillery is still owned by the Cointreau family, but during the 1980s, a descendant of the brothers called André J. Cointreau, left the company to run the Paris-based Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. The production of Cointreau is a family secret, and while tours to the distillery are open to the public, photography is very restricted in many areas to protect the production process from being copied. While Cointreau is often either drunk neat, or on ice, it is also popular in a number of cocktails, such as the Margarita, Cosmopolitan, White Lady and the Sidecar.