Mandarine Napoléon is an orange-flavoured liqueur with a cognac base.
Mandarin peel from Sicily is chopped finely and steeped in cognac, then filtered, then added to alcohol, sugar, and 21 spices and herbs (they are secret, of course, but supposedly include clover, coriander, cumin and green tea.) The alcohol is then distilled three times and aged 3 years before bottling.
It has a spicy orange smell and a pale orange colour.
Though thought of as a French liqueur, it is actually made in Seclin, Belgium by ETS Fourcroy SA company.
The alcohol content is 38% abv.
Can be drunk straight up or on the rocks, with tonic over ice, or used in mixed drinks and in cooking.
Mandarine Napoléon was developed by a French chemist, Antoine-Francois de Fourcroy (1755-1809), in the early 1800s. Fourcroy, though a chemist, was also a skilled social climber. Rumour had it that he used his connections during the Revolution to send his chief rival chemist, Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, to the guillotine (that didn’t stop Fourcroy, though, from delivering the eulogy at Lavoisier’s funeral). Fourcroy became a friend of Napoleon; Napoleon even appointed him a Counsellor of State and a Count of the Empire. Fourcroy had almost discovered quinine (used in Tonic Water) but then gave up his research in that area.
At the time that Fourcroy invented Mandarine Napoléon, mandarins were still a very exotic fruit in France. The liqueur was officially named Mandarine Napoléon in 1892.
Georgy Fourcroy, one of his descendants, has since 1962 run the company that makes Mandarine Napoléon.