The House of Cointreau selected GSM Project to design and build the new visitor experience at the Cointreau Distillery in Saint-Barthélemy-d'Anjou (near Angers, France), a narrative and immersive journey through the heart of the Angevine distillery, which produces the famous Cointreau liqueur, opened to visitors since July 2020.
GSM Project had the challenge to translate in a modern and elegant way more than 170 years of history of an Angevin brand. By stimulating all the senses, visitors are invited to discover the exceptional creativity and savoir-faire of the House of Cointreau. GSM Project’s team imagined the new experiential journey, through time and senses, in seven stages.
In 1849, brothers Édouard-Jean and Adolphe Cointreau established the House of Cointreau in Angers, France. In 1875, after several years of experimentation, Édouard Cointreau — the next generation — put the finishing touches on the French liqueur’s famous recipe, with its trademark crystalline colour and bittersweet orange flavour.
Since its inception, the historic Distillery opened its doors for public visits. Edouard Cointreau had a pioneering spirit and himself welcomed guests inside the House of Cointreau to discover his craft. He was definitely a visionary entrepreneur in the field of industrial tours; indeed, thinking of the visitor experience has been a part of the brand's DNA for more than a century now.
From heritage to contemporary
With more than 170 years of history, the spirit is one of the most famous liqueurs in the world today. The iconic square bottle can be found behind international bar counters, and is present in more than 350 cocktails, making it an essential pillar of the contemporary universe of mixology.
A Distillery Makeover
How to bring the passion behind Cointreau to life, and convey its messages to connoisseurs and amateurs alike? In order to reach the two audiences, our team came up with a timeless and sophisticated set design, and incorporated playlets and other tiny surprising theatrical moments into the experience to reinforce the brand's identity and narrative … all without being overly commercial. The tour focuses on visitor engagement and sensory discovery through taste, highlighting the authenticity of the Distillery and the human dimension of the House of Cointreau, in order to create an emotional connection where all five senses are stimulated.
At the heart of the Distillery
First, in an entrance hall dedicated to the explorations of Edouard Cointreau, the first creator of the famous liqueur, visitors are invited into the historic workshop to explore the imaginary genesis of the brand. Visitors are then welcomed into the distillery, with its aromas of orange liqueur and its 19 majestic copper alembic stills, where they can discover the distillation process specific to the House of Cointreau.
From the liqueur to the orange
A new mezzanine, with a breathtaking view of the distillery, now offers a unique olfactory experience around orange peels, an essential and precious element of Edouard Cointreau's recipe. Visitors are introduced to the complexity, richness, and power of the liqueur's aromas.
A family museum
"Chez les Cointreau", is a surprising cabinet of curiosities, where visitors discover the family history and its generations of entrepreneurs and visionaries from the Anjou region. Finally, visitors have the opportunity to dive into the many advertising campaigns of the brand and to (re)discover the contours of the famous square bottle signed by Edouard Cointreau.
“Both the international experience of GSM Project and its combined Museology and Theatrical expertise had convinced us.
The mandate was large: to translate more than 170 years of secular know-how, as well as the multiple personalities of the brand Cointreau, into a multi-sensory and experiential journey."
Heritage & Communication Director, House of Cointreau
The universe of mixology
An immersive room featuring the legendary Cointreau bottle tells the story behind three of the most popular cocktails made with orange liqueur — the sidecar, the margarita and the cosmopolitan — and how these three cocktails conquered the world. All is presented in a retro, festive, and elegant graphic universe, in reference to the Belle Époque and the French influence around the world during this period.
"There is nothing more inspiring to stage when there is a rich history and tremendous craft to tell."
Project Director, GSM Project
Anchoring the brand
The universe of the Cointreau brand is well known to the public: its orange colour and its square bottle have become iconic. The design of each piece in the exhibition echoes the brand's flagship elements, whether in form, colours, imagery, or even the materials and ambiance chosen. Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the Cointreau story throughout the visit.
Cointreau magic touch
A trained guide leads visitors through a fun and participatory experience in a theatrical way. Like the surprise boxes, each piece unveils a surprising je ne sais quoi that tells part of the great history of the Cointreau brand in a visual fashion.
A destination for tourists
With this new multisensory journey, the House of Cointreau aims to position itself as a leading destination in the tourism of spirit tasting (“spiritourism”) in the Loire Valley region, renowned for its castles and century-old vineyards. The Cointreau Distillery plays an important role in the local community and the Anjou region’s tourism industry with around 20,000 visitors per year.
"From a family epic first to an orange liqueur at the heart of thousands cocktails, then to this resolutely French brand that has become an international icon ... it is a journey through time and senses that awaits visitors. Feedback is unanimous: magnificent!”
Heritage & Communication Director, House of Cointreau
GSM Project was inspired by the universe of the Cointreau brand to design a playful and participatory experience. Visitors are invited to understand the pleasure linked to the product and the complexity of the distillery process of the famous French orange liqueur. In total, more than 680 square metres of space have been redesigned for the new multisensory experience at the Cointreau Distillery.