Cointreau global brand ambassador Kevin Sueiro talks Margaritas and oranges

The Cointreau Margarita Challenge offers the chance to win a trip to France — and closes for entries on March 31st.

Cointreau global brand ambassador Kevin Sueiro talks Margaritas and oranges

The global brand ambassador gig is one that few people get to do. Travelling the global talking about drinks, hosting events, entertaining — they’re not roles that come up often. But it is a job to which bartenders are well suited.

And that’s how former bartender Kevin Sueiro got into his global ambassador gig, and what I spoke to him about during his visit to Australia last year. Kevin is the global brand ambassador for Cointreau — he took over the role from Alfred Cointreau — and in the interview below, we talk about what he likes about the role, why Cointreau launched a new bottle, and we talk oranges, too — did you know that they’re seeing the effects of climate change in the fruit they source for Cointreau?

We also talk about Margaritas, too, because Margaritas are having a moment, (again) as one of the big cocktail stories of the last few years. It’s a drink that offers an enterprising bartender the chance to riff on things, too, and with entries closing in the Cointreau Margarita Challenge in just a few days on March 31st, it might be worth giving the classic your own spin.

Why? Well, on offer is the chance to fly to France — France! — to represent Australia in the global finals — visit the link here to find out more.


Kevin, what do you do?

I’m the Global Brands Ambassador for Cointreau, the one and only orange liqueur in the world.

How did you come to get the job?

At the very beginning I was not in the spirit industry, I was a copywriter in Paris.

When I was financing my master’s degree, I used to bartend, just like many of us. And then after that, during my job as a copywriter, I missed this contact with the customers, talking with people, having a team, being together through shifts, tough shifts sometimes. And so I went back to the bar industry.

And then Cointreau found me.

Alfred [Cointreau] was leaving, so Alfred is the sixth generation of the Cointreau family, so he was the best global ambassador you can imagine. I’m only the second best.

What’s the best part about this job?

I would say the obvious answer is travelling because you travel the world with this job and it’s amazing. I mean, I’m here in Sydney in Australia right now, I’ll be in Singapore next week. I was in New Orleans in July, so that’s quite an exciting job when it comes to travelling. If you like to travel and meet people it’s great.

But I would say that what I prefer above travelling is being with bartenders. I just love being with bartenders. They’re so much fun.

It’s a good time, isn’t it?

That’s why I do what I do.

Cointreau has been around a long time. Can you explain the new bottle to me? What’s going on with the new bottle?

Same, same, but different. We kept the square-shaped bottle. You said that Cointreau is here for a long time. It is quite a long time. It’s more than 170 years, actually. We came up with this bottle in 1885. It was the year Cointreau was trademarked, and it was already a square-shaped bottle inspired by perfumery.

And all along we kept the square-shaped bottle because it says a lot about us. No matter what the liquid or the bottle is, everything is balanced in Cointreau.

Can you tell me about the oranges you use?

It’s all about oranges. And what’s really fun about it is that we use sweet and bitter oranges. They come from different countries all over the world. So mainly it’s Ghana, Tunisia, Brazil, Morocco, and Spain. And we use sweet and bitter ones.

And for the sweet ones we have sun-dried orange peels and also fresh orange peels. And it’s a combination of those three types of peels that gives to Cointreau its final aromatic profile.

We talk about terroir also. The sun, the soil, whether it rains or not, the aspect, everything has an impact on the final aromatic profile — and we only use the peel, the external part of the fruit. So we just want the best. It has to be peeled by hand and it has to be sun dried on site.

Has that changed it all over the years, the way you’ve made Obviously you’ve got bigger in scale, I guess?

At the beginning, Cointreau was in the center of the city of Angers, because there is only one production site in the world for Cointreau, and it’s in Angers. At the very beginning of our history, we were in the center of the city, but we grew bigger and bigger. And at some point, the distillery was too small for the amount we wanted to produce, but also when you have that much neutral alcohol, you represent a risk for the whole city if anything happens. So we don’t want to blow the whole city away! We had to move to the countryside, still next to Angers, because we stick to our roots.

Things have changed a bit when it comes to the orange peels because the climate is changing, and so it has a strong impact on fruits. I would say that every two weeks we have to readjust the blend of sweet and bitter orange peels to keep consistency in the product, because the oranges are changing really quickly now.

What do you see? Are there any new drinks that you’ve discovered that bartenders are making which are blowing you away?

What’s good? I mean, what’s good is the Margarita, you know? Because I love a classic Margarita, obviously, and I think that is among the first drinks I order behind the bar.

Basically, when I go into a bar, I talk with a bartender, get to know each other, then order a Margarita, and then what I like is sometimes I have scheduled a tour.

I have to say that lately I’ve seen a lot of bartenders working with tomato juice, clarified or not, but it was just with Cointreau. It was enlightening, you know? I’ve rediscovered the tomato. It was a clarified tomato juice, more tomato water. But the taste was, it was unbelievable. It was like nothing I’ve tasted before. I really had a blast drinking that. I also love that Cointreau works with flowers. That’s my romantic side, you know, I’m French. I go to CopperBay, it’s one of my favourite bars in Paris. They work with jasmine, and it is my favourite flower ever and it pairs so well with Cointreau.

Entries close in the Cointreau Margarita Challenge in just a few days on March 31st visit the link here to find out more.