Magnolia Wine and Grandiflora Cocktail

“The French have a civilized tradition called the “apéro,” a time to relax after a long day, chat, and enjoy a drink before dinner,” writes Angela Sanders in The Paris Edition of her monthly newsletter. “Rather than the tastebud-obliterating cocktail, they prefer something softer, such as a modest glass of fortified wine on ice. You might have heard of vin d’orange and vin de noix, but what about vin de magnolia?” I hadn’t, and Angela’s description of vin de magnolia as an apéritif with “a vanilla-spicy-herbal flavor” made me long to try it.

magnolia-cocktail

Many of you know Angela’s column on Now Smell This, but she also is the author of Dior or Die, The Halston HitThe Lanvin Murders, and a number of other mystery novels involving vintage fashions. In addition to her writing skills, she has a talent for discovering gems, be they retro garments, perfume, or as in this case, cocktails.

Should you be lucky enough to have a magnolia tree in the vicinity, you can make your own vin de magnolia. It only requires 2 magnolia flowers, a bottle of red wine, some eau de vie and sugar. Angela gives the recipe in her newsletter.

Not a single magnolia petal is to be had in Brussels at the moment. Before I despaired too much on this account, the magic of the internet turned up a cocktail called Grandiflora. The idea came from the website of magnolia growers in Nantes, magnolia-nantes.fr. At the end of an article on how magnolia flowers can be used in everything from beauty to interior decor, the esteemed growers offered a cocktail recipe to mollify those who can’t get fresh flowers.

Inspired by the citrusy flavor of magnolia grandiflora, it blends Muscadet (fruity white wine from the Loire Valley), orange juice and orange flavored liqueurs. The result is as refreshing as it is heady, with a complex citrus aroma, and a lingering finish.

Cocktail Grandiflora

You can use any other fruity white wine instead of Muscadet, as long as it’s not overly sweet or oaky. The original recipe calls for Curaçao, which I associate with cheap cocktails served at grad student bars. Instead, I use Grand Marnier, a more interesting version of the blue stuff.

I also scaled down the recipe to more reasonable proportions, but if your life requires Cocktail Grandiflora by the gallon, please check the original recipe and knock yourself out.

A non-alcoholic version: as I was sharing some comments below, I decided to attempt a non-alcoholic version of the Cocktail Grandiflora by mixing orange juice, mandarin and grapefruit juice (1 cup, 1/4 cup, 1/4 cup, respectively) and adding 1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water to emphasize a floral accent. It turned out refreshing and fragrant. If anyone experiments with it further, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

3/4 cup of Muscadet
1 cup of orange juice
3 Tbsps of Cointreau or triple sec
3 Tbsps of Grand Marnier

Mix and serve over ice. Makes 2 glasses.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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42 Comments

  • Elle: What a great idea for a cocktail! Our magnolias are done with their blooming season … I need to try Cocktail Grandiflora and save your recipe for magnolia wine till next summer. September 19, 2016 at 8:37am Reply

    • Victoria: I also want to try Angela’s wine recipe, which must taste delicious. September 19, 2016 at 11:49am Reply

  • Samie: I always discover something new on this blog. I had no idea magnolia flowers were edible. September 19, 2016 at 8:58am Reply

    • Victoria: Neither have I! On the other hand, I learned not long ago how good acacia blossoms taste. In Provence they are made into a sweet fritter, and it’s one of the best seasonal treats. September 19, 2016 at 11:50am Reply

  • Sandra: I am not a drinker, the only time we have alcohol in the house is when a guest brings some for their consumption.

    My apéro is a nice cup of tea, Herbal lemon olive leaf or a Marrakech Mint September 19, 2016 at 9:00am Reply

    • Victoria: All sound very good! September 19, 2016 at 11:50am Reply

  • Lindsay: I’m intrigued, Victoria! white wine + orange! A take on mimosa? Yes, it’s a must-try for me. September 19, 2016 at 9:11am Reply

    • Victoria: You can adjust the quantities to your liking, but what I like is that it’s not too sweet of a cocktail. The idea of layering different citrus flavors also makes for a great bouquet. September 19, 2016 at 11:51am Reply

      • Lindsay: It was very good. I reduced GM to 1 spoon and used triple sec. Will make it again this weekend. September 21, 2016 at 8:22am Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you for letting me know, and I’m glad to hear that there are more experiments in the future. 🙂 September 21, 2016 at 9:59am Reply

  • Lindsay: Oh, I adore Angela’s writing on NST. I didn’t know she also wrote books. September 19, 2016 at 9:14am Reply

    • Victoria: She’s very talented, and yes, her column is irresistible. September 19, 2016 at 11:52am Reply

  • Jim K: Anyone here wear Frederic Malle’s Eau de Magnolia? Or if you can recommend something similar and less expensive, I’d appreciate it. September 19, 2016 at 9:47am Reply

    • Jillie: Jim, I can’t remember too much now about how Eau de Magnolia smells, but had to tell you about Pierre Bourdon’s Sous les Magnolias which is rather lovely. Apparently it contains “60% real magnolia extract” – not sure what that is, but the fragrance does resemble magnolias! It almost has a vintage vibe; it’s a floral chypre with a faintly woody drydown. It is very good value (about a third of the price of Malle). The bad news is that it is really hard to track down, and not many shops sell it, but I believe it is possible to buy from Bourdon’s website in Germany. It could be worth a sniff. September 19, 2016 at 11:50am Reply

      • Victoria: I’m disappointed that Pierre Bourdon’s line has bit the dust, so to speak. It barely made its appearance when it vanished. It’s a shame, since Sous les Magnolias is very good. September 19, 2016 at 11:58am Reply

        • Jillie: Me too. His whole line is wonderful – my favourite is La Dame en Rose and I am very fond of La Fin d’une Ete. I almost feel like saying that they don’t make them like that any more …… I wonder what happened. September 19, 2016 at 12:03pm Reply

          • Victoria: La Dame en Rose is one of my favorites too. It has an element of vintage glamour without anything frilly or saccharine.

            I imagine it has something to do with financing. Launching a perfume line, especially if one does quality, is very difficult. September 19, 2016 at 12:08pm Reply

            • Jillie: You’re right. So sad as they are such quality fragrances and deserved high acclaim and lots of customers. September 19, 2016 at 12:10pm Reply

              • Victoria: I also recall that they were reasonably priced, especially for a niche line. September 19, 2016 at 12:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: I like Eau de Magnolia very much, especially since it’s rare to find a fragrance that truly does justice to this flower. The trouble with magnolia is that it smells very lemony, and many people react to it by saying that a photorealistic magnolia accord reminds them of “furniture polish.” Change it too much and make it less lemony, and it no longer smells of magnolia. So, Eau de Magnolia is a good compromise.

      I don’t remember the prices on Acqua di Parma off the top of my head, but I definitely recommend testing their Magnolia Nobile. September 19, 2016 at 11:55am Reply

  • Astrid: I must be destined for this cocktail today – I am wearing Acqua di Parma Magnolia Nobile, not my regular during the week fragrance! Thanks for the post. September 19, 2016 at 9:57am Reply

    • Victoria: Perfect! 🙂 I was so taken with Angela’s magnolia wine, or rather the idea, that I made this cocktail already a few times. If you like white wine based drinks, you’ll enjoy it. September 19, 2016 at 11:56am Reply

  • Jillie: Yum! Must make this.

    My husband and I have been drinking a lot of cocktails lately after being inspired by Douglas Sirk movies (and others of the 50s and 60s) when everyone is always drinking a cocktail (mostly Martinis) as soon as the chap returns home from work or guests arrive for dinner. Probably not a good habit to get into, but we are enjoying trying different recipes and this one is the next on our list. September 19, 2016 at 11:55am Reply

    • Victoria: Friday is an apero day for us, but I figured that I might as well start Monday with an idea, or a reminder, if you will. 🙂 Which are some of the cocktails you’ve tried and liked? September 19, 2016 at 12:01pm Reply

      • Jillie: Me being me, I like anything rose based – rose the flower, not the pink coloured wine! A rose liqueur or rose vodka with a splash of Bombay Sapphire gin and a bigger splash of sparkling water served with a slice of lemon is rather nice.

        In the heat of summer, I love quaffing a Margarita – tequila, lime juice and Cointreau, or a Mint Julep – bourbon whiskey with loads of mint and granulated sugar “muddled” into it, and served with lots of crushed ice.

        I could go on but I would sound like an old soak. September 19, 2016 at 12:08pm Reply

        • Victoria: Considering how little we drink (a bottle of wine can last us a whole week), my interest in cocktails is almost irrational. On the other hand, cocktail is the closest thing one can get to create a perfume, and it’s fascinating to blend and try different combinations. Do you buy rose vodka (knowing you, I wouldn’t be surprised if you flavored it yourself)? September 19, 2016 at 12:11pm Reply

          • Jillie: My husband usually buys rose liqueurs or vodkas as presents for me, but I have been known to add rose essence (Star Kay have a good one) or Monin Rose Syrup to vodka or gin as a substitute. September 19, 2016 at 12:16pm Reply

            • Victoria: A touch of rose essence in vodka is a great idea. September 19, 2016 at 12:24pm Reply

        • Celine: A mint julep make me think of spending summers with my cousins in England. It’s been many years since I tasted one. September 19, 2016 at 4:51pm Reply

          • Victoria: You two make me want to try a mint julep. You know, I’ve never had this cocktail. September 20, 2016 at 7:05am Reply

  • Celine: Merci! I’m French but I didn’t know about this cocktail. I’ll try it very soon. September 19, 2016 at 4:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: Please do and let me know how you like it! September 20, 2016 at 7:03am Reply

  • ClareObscure: Just loving this blog & chat. Thanks to Victoria for the cocktail ideas, intriguing info about Angela Sanders of NST. Those titles for her novels. So inspiring! Can’t wait to check them out.
    Love how these chats can start with another topic & end up in fragrance. Pierre Bourdon. La Fin D’une Ete. Once again the dreamy titles.
    Bois de Jasmine. What’s not to love? September 19, 2016 at 6:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: Angela is an inspiration in many ways.

      Bourdon’s line should be around, if only for its romantic titles. 🙂 September 20, 2016 at 9:44am Reply

  • hajusuuri: I have not seen Nantes mentioned anywhere until now. On my first trip to Paris eons ago, I accompanied my friend to her then boyfriend’s (now husband’s) house in Nantes! Nantes has one of the best beaches in the world! September 19, 2016 at 8:47pm Reply

    • Victoria: When I moved to Belgium and was able to travel around more in France, I kept wondering why more people aren’t talking about some of these places. They are so beautiful! And full of historical riches, not to mention delicious food. Happy to meet someone else who loved Nantes as much as I do. September 20, 2016 at 9:46am Reply

  • Angela: I’m counting the days until spring to make vin de Magnolia! Until then, your cocktail sounds delicious, Victoria. I’m so glad my newsletter is inspiring these kinds of delicious thoughts. September 20, 2016 at 2:18am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Angie! I wouldn’t have discovered it, if it weren’t for you. I was even thinking that one can do a very interesting non-alcoholic cocktail by blending orange, tangerine and grapefruit juice with a little orange blossom water to emphasize a fruity-floral facet. September 20, 2016 at 9:47am Reply

  • Annikky: Such a lovely post and the cocktail sounds (and looks) dreamy. I like the idea of different citruses together, I’ve been doing it in baking – using oranges and lemons and orange blossom water to flavour a cake. And I made jewelled rice the other day, using orange, clementine, lemon and lime peel strips as flavouring/garnish (among other things:). Cannot thank you enough for making me aware of the Maloufs and their cookbooks. September 20, 2016 at 7:25am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m very happy that you like the Malouf duo and their books. I rarely cook from the books written by professional chefs, but while some of his recipes are complicated, he shares his knowledge of flavors so generously that you can experiment within your time and abilities. The idea of layering different citruses is one of the keys I learned in the perfumery school. It makes an accord richer and more interesting. And of course, the same principle works in cooking. September 20, 2016 at 9:50am Reply

  • Jennifer C: I had no idea magnolia flowers were edible. The vin de magnolia recipe makes me want to get my hands on some fresh magnolia flowers when they’re in bloom and try to make it myself. September 28, 2016 at 1:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: I have since discovered that you can buy vin de magnolia in some wine stores, but the homemade variety seems better. September 28, 2016 at 3:12pm Reply

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