What Is Gran Gala Orange Liqueur?

A Guide to Buying, Drinking, and Storing Gran Gala Orange Liqueur

Gran Gala Triple Orange Liqueur
The Spruce / S&C Design Studios

Gran Gala Triple Orange Liqueur is a brandy-based orange liqueur that originated in Italy. Sweet and rich, the amber-colored liqueur is flavored with Mediterranean oranges. It's a cost-conscious alternative to Grand Marnier and makes an equally tasty cocktail ingredient. While nice in margaritas and other drinks (even food recipes) that typically use Gran Gala's more popular counterpart, it is also a delightful sipper when served on the rocks.

Gran Gala vs. Grand Marnier

There are many orange liqueurs available, but few use brandy as the base. The best-known is Grand Marnier, and the brand's name has become synonymous with this style of orange liqueur. While Grand Marnier uses French cognac, Gran Gala is made with Italian brandy. The citrus flavoring is slightly different as well. Grand Marnier is flavored with the essence of bitter orange peels. Gran Gala is reported to use Mediterranean oranges. The taste is comparable, though slightly different, and drinkers who try the two side-by-side tend to find a preference for one or the other. Bottled at the same strength, Gran Gala sells for significantly less than Grand Marnier.

Fast Facts

  • Ingredients: brandy, oranges
  • Proof:  80
  • ABV: 40%
  • Origin: Trieste, Italy
  • Taste: Sweet orange
  • Aged: unknown
  • Serve: straight-up, on the rocks, cocktails, shots

What Is Gran Gala Made From?

The exact production method of Gran Gala is not revealed. The brand states that the orange liqueur was founded in 1884 in Trieste, Italy. Today, Gran Gals is owned by the Sazerac Company, which is famous for its whiskey brands like Sazerac Rye Whiskey and Buffalo Trace and spirits like Fireball, Southern Comfort, and Yukon Jack. The Gran Gala bottle states that it is a product of Canada, and the website says that it is imported and bottled by Sazerac in Louisville, Kentucky.

Gran Gala is made with Italian brandy. Its VSOP rating means that the blend includes brandies aged for at least four years. The orange flavoring is added with Mediterranean-grown oranges, though the exact method and varieties are not disclosed. There also seems to be grains involved in the making of Gran Gala because the website states that it is not guaranteed to be gluten-free. Brandy is distilled from grapes, so it is either blended with grain-based alcohol or neutral grain spirits are used to extract the orange flavoring (a common method for liqueurs).

Like all liqueurs, it also includes some type of sweetener; the nutrition information states that a 1 1/2-ounce serving contains 156 calories and 12.4 grams of carbohydrates and sugars. Gran Gala is a strong orange liqueur, bottled at 40 percent alcohol by volume (80 proof).

What Does Gran Gala Taste Like?

Gran Gala has a medium-bodied richness. The orange flavor is bright and sweet, and there are hints of cocoa and almond. Like Grand Marnier, the brandy gives it a darker undertone than other orange liqueurs, such as triple sec and curaçao.

How to Drink Gran Gala

As an 80-proof, brandy-based liqueur, Gran Gala can be enjoyed on its own. It may be too sweet for most drinkers unless poured over a few ice cubes, which relaxes the flavor and opens up the aroma.

Cocktails are where Gran Gala really shines. The darker orange liqueur adds a nice dimension to margaritas, particularly those that use heavily flavored fruit like strawberry. Some drinkers even find it preferable to triple sec in a cosmopolitan. The flavor of Gran Gala is also very nice in warm cocktails.

Gran Gala can be stored in the bar for a very long time. Its high alcohol content should prevent any deterioration of flavor for years—even in an opened bottle—if it's tightly sealed and not exposed to heat or direct sunlight. Since it does contain sugars, there is the possibility for crystalization. It should be discarded if the liqueur develops any aroma or taste that seems off.

Cocktail Recipes

Gran Gala can find a place in any drink recipe that calls for a brandy-based orange liqueur like Grand Marnier. It also works as a substitute for a triple sec and orange curaçao in some cocktails, especially when paired with aged spirits.

Cooking With Gran Gala

Gran Gala has a place in the kitchen as well. Its sweet orange flavor is a perfect addition to sauces and sweets (especially chocolate desserts). Again, look for Grand Marnier in food recipes and use Gran Gala instead.