Pros:Bright natural orange flavor
Cons:Expensive for what it is
The Bottom Line: Patron Citronge is worth a shot. Its bright, crisp orange flavor will please many drinkers, though I'm unconvinced its worth more than basic triple secs...
Maybe you're looking for a clean orange-flavored liqueur as an aperitif or nightcap. Or maybe you want to create some margarita buzz with your latest substitute for the Triple Sec, Cointreau, or Grand Marnier of your usual mix. Straight up or as a mixer, Patron Citronge is the new premium-priced, top-shelf orange liqueur on the block!
If you like quality tequilas, you probably know about Patron. The brand built its fame on a standard line of silver, reposado, and añejo tequilas, but over the last couple years they've branched out a bit; first with XO Cafe --- a coffee-flavored tequila-based liqueur --- and now with Patrón Citrónge.
Citronge may have the tequila heritage thing working for it, but this is not a flavored tequila. It's also not one of the wimpy low-end liqueurs since it is sold at 40% alcohol (80 proof).
Patron Citronge is headed into shark-infested waters, if you ask me. Personally, I'm not sure how big the market might be for premium-priced, orange-flavored neutral spirits. The top shelf already has its fans in the Cointreau and Grand Marnier camps, while the budget-minded imbibers have a whole shelf of popular-priced Triple Sec varieties. And that's not even taking into account all the fad orange flavored vodkas, tequilas, gins, mouthwashes, or cooler beverages.
Patron is clearly gunning for Cointreau and Grand Marnier, but those are some big shoes to fill. Cointreau has a nice complexity going for it, and Grand Marnier has a richness from its brandy base that makes it a very tough act to beat. So what does Patron bring to the table to distinguish it from all the other orange-adorned bottles in the liquor store? Let's pour a shot and see if that sheds some light on the question...
Sampling a "Neat" Shot of Citronge...
A shot of Patron Citronge pours crystal clear and smells a bit like a creamsicle with a vanilla-like softness teamed up with plenty of sweet orange. On a second pass, I'm struck by the general cleanliness of the scent, though if I pull back a bit, I get hint of lemon spritz. It's a nice, clean, sweet smelling fresh orange, through and through.
The flavor too is very clean and neutral. You get a quick blast of alcoholic heat, then the big orange spritz hits you. There's really nothing here other than straightforward sweet orange. You feel quite a lot of heat on this (both up front and again at the swallow), and the consistency is a bit thick with syrup, but the flavor is orange, pure orange, and nothing but orange, so help me God.
Citronge as a Mixer...
You can use Patron Citronge in any drink recipe that calls for Triple Sec, Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or Curacao. It's a natural for a premium margarita, and you can easily improve on the Patron Margarita recipe that's on Patron's web site and the bottle's neck card by simply changing the lemon juice to lime juice. Here's how I'd do it...
2 shots Patron silver tequila
1/2 shot Patron Citronge
juice of 1 squeezed lime
1/2 shot bar syrup
For the most part, Patron Citronge strikes me as a very direct, straightforward spirit, one that seems to me more suitable as a mixer than as a drink to be appreciated for itself. When it comes to orange liqueurs, I don't think Grand Marnier has much to fear from Citronge. Grand Marnier is still the much more flavorful, complex, and intriguing drink, and if I had room for only one orange liqueur on my top shelf, it would still be Grand Marnier. Patron is good, but so too are orange liqueurs costing much less.
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Price ($US, 750 ml or standard size): 21
Spirit Rating: A solid performer