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Controy - Mexican Orange Liqueur

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Cointreau is a French Orange Liqueur that costs $30 - 35 a bottle here in the States. Controy is a Mexican Orange Liqueur that costs about $11 in Mexico. Both are perfect for Margs because they have the right viscosity for the drink. What I want to know is, can Controy be purchased in the US and if so, where?

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  1. I've never seen Controy, but after years of using Cointreau in my Margaritas, I have switched to Marie Brizzard Triple Sec, which is only about $20 (still 3 or 4x most crappy, overly sugary Triple Secs), and has a flavor I actually prefer to Cointreau for that cocktail.

    1. Cointreau is the "original" Triple Sec liquer, but -- as MC Slim JB has noted -- there are better ones, such as the Marie Brizzard version.

      I've never been a big fan of Controy (clearly named and packaged to "rip-off" Cointreau), and I haven't seen it in the U.S. since the 1960s.

      1. Patron has a version called Citronge that sells for about $14 at Trader Joe's... its pretty decent.

        1. A friend brought some Controy back from Mexico a couple of years ago. Yes, it was excellent. Is it possible to buy Controy in the US ?

          1. I have a bottle of Controy in my liqueur cabinet that's been there a few years. No idea where it came from. But living in LA I bet you can get it at Mexican markets.

            1. You can't buy Controy in the US. Well, you can, but it's sold as Patron Citronage. Not quite as cheap as buying in Mexico, but still a bargain for the quality.

              1. Hi jberryl,

                This product is not sold in the USA. I asked this when I went to Baja in March and it is propritory just as Tequilla is to Mexico, or Bourbon is to Kentucky, check out: http://www.kybourbontrail.com. http://www.pocotequila.com/mextour/me...
                I savor my bottle of Controy until I return to Mexico....

                18 Replies
                1. re: t2dianaw

                  Seriously, you don't need to wait 'til you go back to Mexico; just buy Patron Citronage here in the US. Same stuff, different name.

                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    I had suspicions that this was the case. Could you cite a source confirming this?

                    1. re: tommy

                      Can't find confirmation from the importer / distributor, but did a side-by-side tasting and they were indistinguishable to my palate. Perhaps more significantly, the first bottle of Citronage I ever saw came in a green bottle with "La Madrileña" stamped on the bottom - exactly the same as Controy.

                      Checked the current bottle, and there's no reference to La Madrileña. Also, it's Citronge, not Citronage (good thing I didn't have money riding on that one). Regardless, as far as I'm concerned the two are interchangeable.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        I'll take your word for it. I had Controy in Mexico and recall liking it. However, I've had Citronge months later, and thought it was horrible. That goes to show you.

                        1. re: tommy

                          Maybe the latitude changed your attitude. Neither one is a particularly sophisticated liqueur - for sipping, they can't hold a candle to Cointreau.

                          If you happen to encounter them side-by-side, though, give Citronge another shot (so to speak). I wouldn't seek out the opportunity, but happened to bring a bottle of Controy back from Mexico while there was Citronge in the liquor cabinet. Now I use them interchangeably in margaritas.

                          BTW: here are a few other folks who share my conclusion. Again, not confirmation from the horse's mouth, but at least it's the ramblings of a bunch of yahoos and not just this one:

                          http://www.pocotequila.com/mextour/me...
                          http://www.ianchadwick.com/forum/inde...
                          http://www.playa.info/playa-del-carme...
                          http://www.ianchadwick.com/forum/inde...

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            I recently did a side-by-side tasting of Cointreau (my preferred, which was confirmed with the tasting), Citronge, Luxardo, and Bols. None were terribly good other than the Cointreau (although I have been known to use Bols in margaritas when I'm making a lot for a party). The Citronge has a medicinal taste that I find unpleasant. The Luxardo has an herbaceousness or some other profile that I can't quite put my finger on.

                            Oftentimes people will just mimmic what they've read on the internet without any real evidence or factual support (kind of like conspiracy theories, or "searing seals in the juices"), but in this case, the ramblings of a few yahoos is confirmation enough for me. Hell, your rambling was enough!

                            1. re: tommy

                              I agree that Citronge has a weird "whang" to it. I keep wanting to like it as a liqueur, but just don't. On the other hand, that odd flavor disappears - or maybe just works - in a margarita.

                              It also adds a little something to a drink of my own invention, the sidecar (but you have to pronounce it see-de-CAR). Equal parts Presidente brandy, Controy, and fresh-squeezed Mexican lime juice, shaken, served up in a cocktail glass.

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                I have never seen limes from other than Mexico....oh wait, Key Limes, but those don't count!

                                1. re: Sbyre888

                                  Key limes and Mexican limes are close relatives. Most limes you see in the US are domestically-grown Bearss / Persian limes.

                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                    I've never seen a lime in New England without a grown in Mexico label, just saying, I imagine it depends on where you live. I'm pretty sure all limes are close relatives. And the Key ones I have had taste not much like and look quite a bit smaller than the Mexican ones I squeeze a gallon+ of daily. Too bad for me that the only options in NH Liquor stores are Cointrean and Patron Citronge, or trip sec (for clear orange)

                                    1. re: Sbyre888

                                      >>"I'm pretty sure all limes are close relatives."<<

                                      Au contraire. You may be able to buy Persian limes that were grown in Mexico, but that doesn't make the Mexican limes. The former are large, oval, sour, and mostly seedless. The latter are small, spherical, sweet, and full of seeds. They have a passing resemblance to each other in terms of appearance and flavor, but they're completely different things.

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        I see what you are saying. And clearly there is a difference of a Persian lime versus a West Indian Lime aka Mexican or key lime. However, the scientific name suggests they are definitely close relatives: Citrus latifolia vs Citrus aurantiifolia not only close, but closer to each other than ANY of the other lime varieties, they are the only ones with Citrus and Folia in their name. Thank you for refreshing some information that had not been accesed since consuming over a decade ago.

                                    2. re: alanbarnes

                                      I guess you don't make it to the Northeast much;)
                                      And I don't make it out much!

                              2. re: alanbarnes

                                Ian Chadwick certainly seems to know his stuff!

                      2. re: t2dianaw

                        The producer is trying to import Controy liqueur into the United States, but Cointreau has sued, claiming that consumers would be confused and that sale of Controy liqueur in the US would be trademark infringement. So far, the court has agreed and issued a temporary injunction against the importation. If you are dubious, you can see a copy of the complaint at http://www.ndtexblog.com/wp-content/u...

                        1. re: mhs101255

                          If I were Cointreau, I'd sue, too!

                          1. re: zin1953

                            Well, there are two possible reasons that it sued. It believes that consumers will, in fact, be confused, or it hopes that Controy can't afford to litigate (the latter is known as "trademark bullying").

                            Cointreau also claims that the Controy name was "undoubtedly" chosen because of its similarity to Cointreau. It appears that Controy has been sold in Mexico since 1933, so I guess that this is a company that believes in planning ahead!

                            Also Cointreau says the bottles are similar in that they are both "squat, squared shaped." Cointreau's bottle, however is brown and Controy's bottle is green. Moreover, there are at least 3 or 4 other orange liqueurs sold in bottles with the same shape, especially, "03 Premium" orange liqueur. http://www.cheriloughlin.com/StockPho...

                            What do you think now?

                            1. re: mhs101255

                              1) I don't think but KNOW that, under the law, if a company fails to protect its trademarks, it loses it. Ergo, EVERY corporation will zealously guard its marks.

                              2) The fact that Controy has been around since 1933 only proves that they came AFTER Cointreau, and thus demonstrates that Cointreau's squat, square shaped bottle was already around prior Controy choosing their packaging.

                              3) Brown or green, the bottle is substantially the same, and trademark violations have been upheld when similar color variances have taken place. That said, I think one could argue from the photograph that the "03 Premium" is different enough to avoid any infringement, but I've never seen the bottle in person.

                              /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

                              I cannot speak definitively to the legal merits of this case. I have not seen all of the evidence nor have I read all of the briefs. That said, under the law (see my first point), I think Cointreau has little choice *but* to file suit.

                              Now, from a strictly personal point-of-view, I have no doubt whatsoever that the people behind Controy deliberately chose a name and a bottle shape that would remind consumers of Cointreau -- whether in an attempt to confuse ("Oh, I thought I bought Cointreau"), or in an effort to be stylistically similar but less expensive (Hey, don't buy that - we're a lot less!"). Either way, it's my personal opinion that Cointreau has a valid case . . . but I'm not on the jury.

                      3. I have a bottle of the Torres Gran Orange Liqueur. It's been a while since I compared to Cointreau, but I remember thinking it wasn't as refined an orange flavor. It's 1/2 to 2/3 the cost, however. I need to try mixing with it to see what I think- haven't been making too many margaritas lately.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ted

                          Mea culpa. I looked tonight and it's the regular Torres Orange Liqueur. It's a bit sweeter and has some caramel flavors going on. The Cointreau has a straight-up zesty orange flavor by comparison. I think I can taste the difference from the brandy base, but I could also be fooling myself. Went well in my Cinco margarita this evening.

                        2. I didn't like the Patron Citronage that much.

                          If I'm not using Cointreau for Margaritas, I'm partial to using Solerno or Orangala. If I'm looking to go cheaper I'll use Grangala or the Torres liqueurs (which ever is available).

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: deet13

                            I just shelled out $25 for a 750ml bottle of Patron Citronge today ... It is both a tad sweeter and has more of an artificial orange taste. Although it is serviceable in a margarita, I prefer my tried and true recipe with Cointreau.

                          2. Try the Gran Gala orange liqueur. A good substitute for triple sec/Controy. Should be easy to find

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: rexster314

                              I use Gran Gala as well, Labelle Orange Cognac is decent too. Both are a bit sweeter and much darker than cointreau, if you like alot of lime and no other sweetener, it's real good. More of a substitute for Gran Marnier in my perspective, but good and I carry Gran Gala at my bar for the the very reason we speak. Today I picked up a new product (as sample with Cuervo 1800-got it mostly for the sample!- $20 for both in NH) 30% alcohol 'Agavero Orange' orange liqueur made with tequilla. I really disliked thier original, but this has potential....no price for a 750ml yet, just 375 ml promo.....hoping for a $12-15. Just searched it, $20-23 :(

                              1. re: Sbyre888

                                I also like Gran Gala and harlequin, which to me are nearly identical. Both are $20 in NC ($16 on sale) and make excellent margaritas, mai tais, etc. Clement Creole Shrubb is a tad better but I don't use it often because I can't get it locally, and it runs around $30. (yes I know the first two are Cognac based and the Shrubb is rum based, but they all make damn good drinks).

                            2. I'm a huge fan of Cointreau in Margaritas. However, since I made them often this Summer, I first tried Patron's Citronge [$25] and Bol's Blue Curacao [$12] to see if I could find a more reasonable orange liqueur. I still prefer Cointreau, but if I'm looking for a lower cost orange liqueur for say a large party, I prefer the Bol's Blue Curacao over Patron's Citronge.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                What about Bols triple sec?

                                I used it for a while when serving a large quantity at parties, but I came to realize that for my taste, it's just not very good. I stick with Cointreau. Not sure if the cost differential is much different at the end of the year, so I'm all in.

                                1. re: tommy

                                  Tommy:

                                  I have never tried the Bols Triple Sec, nor have I tried Marie Brizards (which some people swear by) ... At the end of the day, I prefer Cointreau as well.

                                  1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                    I agree. The curacao is, well, a curacao, not a triple sec. Just wanted to make that clear and wondered if you tried the Bols triple sec. But we agree, so cheers!