Ah, the classic Grand Marnier. This French liqueur is made from cognac and bitter orange, and is one of the best known orange liqueurs. It's good both neat and in cocktails, though I would caution against using it as a substitute for triple sec - the cognac base provides a different enough flavor that it can substantially alter a cocktail, and not always for the better. For simplicity's sake, I'll be reviewing this one neat.
Grand Marnier pours out a deep, clear orange-amber. The aroma is strongly orangey, but balanced with vanilla and brandy. A sharp note of orange and alcohol first hits the palate - this sharpness soon becomes muted, and balanced with sugar sweetness; honey and vanilla then factor in, and the rich cognac base becomes quite noticeable. The finish is distinctly oaky, and the orange flavor remains prominent throughout. The mouthfeel is thick, but pleasant.
In all, Grand Marnier is a high-quality liqueur, and makes for a nice after-dinner drink. Its sweetness is a bit much neat, but sometimes it hits the spot. And it's a fairly versatile mixer, though not quite as much as more conventional orange liqueurs like Cointreau. Its ubiquity is for good reason.
Overall Quality: 17/20