Question. Does Monaco have its own liqueur? Is it distilled in Monaco? If you answered in the affirmative then you will know that L’Orangerie is the only distilled liqueur in the Principality.
There is a small shop not far from Place d’Armes, 9 rue de la Turbie to be precise. Inside this shop there is a still. Yes, a real still! It is made from gleaming, mirror-like copper. Hard to believe that it is actually real. However, it is very real and is used to make this fine, light tasting liqueur. The owner of L’Orangerie is Philip Culazzo who hails from the Emerald Isle, Ireland for the uninitiated. He is quite an entrepreneur.
Why Monaco? Why oranges? Seems strange doesn’t it? Well, it appears that the oranges which grow in Monaco are pretty bitter to the taste. Some twenty-five percent are harvested for other uses. These other uses being the making of jams and the like which have been in decline for many years. The oranges end up falling unwanted to the ground. Sniff. But, along comes Philip with a plan. He has the oranges harvested and brought to his distillery. Philip makes the point that these are not cultivated fruits, not bio, rather 100% natural.
In the basement, a secret stone walled space, is the workshop where the magic begins. The oranges are peeled. From there they are squeezed and so on through the process that ends up with the liquid being put into tall stainless steel vats. Once ready, the juice is pumped up to the still and, Voila!, L’Orangerie, the liqueur of Monaco, arrives. It is then bottled on the premises and is ready for sale. Amazing.
In Monaco it is all the rage to create cocktails using L’Orangerie. One such is the Monaco Spritz which substitutes the Spritz with L’Orangerie. There are other cool clever cocktails to be tried all over the Principality, including august watering holes like the American Bar, Hôtel de Paris.
Mix & enjoy!
All photographs © Mike Colquhoun