What Is Cointreau? Here's Everything You Need to Know About the Margarita Staple.


The cocktail menu of any relatively hip restaurant will more often than not list "Cointreau" as an ingredient for at least one of its drinks. While before you may have just decided the name sounded good enough to slug back, Cointreau is a popular orange liqueur.

The liqueur, which was invented in 1875 by brothers Adolphe Cointreau and Edouard-Jean Cointreau, is a name brand version of triple sec, the Kitchn noted. (The brothers launched the Cointreau brand in 1849 but were focused on making other fruit liqueurs first.) Here's where the names get a little confusing: Triple sec is less sweet than curaçao, a brandy that is traditionally flavored with dried curaçao orange peels, Serious Eats stated

While curaçao originates from the Caribbean island of the same name, triple sec is a French drink. It features a blend of both sweet and bitter orange peels, which is what makes it less sweet than the Caribbean version. "Sec" means dry in French, but the reason behind the use of "triple" in the name is still disputed.


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Cointreau used to actually be called Cointreau Triple Sec but dropped the name eventually to separate itself from the rest of the triple sec companies out there, Serious Eats said

The liqueur has gone on to be quite "well-regarded" in the spirits business, Serious Eats added. Cointreau is often served neat or on the rocks, but it is also a staple in a number of classic cocktails, the Kitchn noted. Conventional recipes for margaritas, sidecars and even cosmopolitans often call for the brandname triple sec. 

While the liqueur is not cheap — a 750-milliliter bottle of Cointreau clocks in at around $35 — it might be worth the splurge. Cointreau has a "drier and more complex" taste than other triple secs on the market, the Kitchn stated. Plus, the sleek bottle looks good on any bar cart.