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May 18, 2007 12:13 PM

Are Cointreau and Triple SEc Interchangeable?

I am making Sangria and I usually use cointreau and brandy but just realized that the bottle of cointreau in my cabinet is Triple sec. Can I use it? Will there be any appreciable difference in the end product?

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  1. For Sangria, I think you will be fine.

    1. Cointreau and Triple Sec are both orange flavored, and in the case of Sangria, I'm not sure it matters which you use.

      Some purists might disagree with me.

      1. A couple of factors to consider: Cointreau is one of the costlier orange flavored liqueurs on the market, about $30/bottle. However, it has a beautiful, not overly-sweet orange flavor. If you take pride in your sangria, it might be worth spending a little more for the cup or so you need for most recipes.

        I think a lot of rock-bottom Triple Secs (most of the stuff on the market) are overly sweet and hangover fodder. Then again, most sangria recipes don't require you to use a lot. I think you need to be aware of the sweetness issue: you'll need to add less additional sugar with cheap Triple Sec than you would with Cointreau.

        I lately discovered Marie Brizzard Triple Sec, which while not cheap ($20/bottle), is cheaper than Cointreau, and much nicer than the $6-8 Triple Secs. I use this for my top-shelf Margaritas to good effect (I think it has a nicer orange flavor than Cointreau, my old Margarita standby).

        There are some other options that are better than cheap Triple Sec: some better brands of Curacao, and some Grand Marnier knockoffs.

        1 Reply
        1. I love orange, and orange liqueurs, and tend to "collect" them. I currently have 10 different orange liqueurs. A thread on another site got me interested in comparing them, so I sat down over the course of a few nights and performed some methodical taste tests. If you're interested you can read it over on my blog, at

          8 Replies
          1. re: Scottes

            A very valuable comparison. I've been thinking about doing something similar with the range of orange-flavored liqueurs and cordials that are available in Greater Boston: I haven't seen several of the ones you've included locally. A real inspiration, thanks!

            1. re: MC Slim JB

              I live just north of Boston, so all of these are available to you. The Marie Brizard Orangero may tough, since I found that in a type of "close-out" section in one store, and apparently they don't make it any more.

            2. re: Scottes

              great website! i really enjoyed your reviews.

              1. re: Scottes

                If you ever get a chance try these absolutely fantastic rum based orange liqueurs. Each is amazing in its own way.

                Clement Creole Shrubb liqueur from French Martinique, which is made from excellent aged Clement Rhum agricole and aged, sun dried, 'white' curacao orange peel.

                St. Teresa Orange liqueur from Venezuela, made with the great, aged St. Teresa solera rhum.

                1. re: JMF

                  I've debated about the Clement Creole when I saw it once, but I think I bought 4 bottles that trip so I had to put something back. I won't next time, thanks.

                  St. Teresa Orange? I just wish I could find *any* St Teresa around here. I've been dying to try the 1796 for years.

                  I'm going to try an orange rum infusion later tonight. Now to find a couple of worthwhile rums...

                  1. re: Scottes

                    Where are you located that you can't get St. Teresa? I know they are new to import. Maybe I can ship you some stuff. i am a rum fanatic as well and may be able to turn you on to some new ones. i have around 70 rums at home that I have to start reviewing so they pay for themselves. Starting June I will be doing a major push on super premium rum reviews.

                    1. re: JMF

                      I'm in Massachusetts, and I don't think St Teresa is distributed in Mass. And it's illegal to ship alcohol to Mass, so I can't even order it online. I'm not worried yet - I have plenty of other rums available, and I'll keep hunting. At some point I'll get frustrated and find a way to obtain it. :-)

                2. re: Scottes

                  Thanks the reviews were helpful. Another Triple Sec that has not been mentioned here is Luxardo Triplum, about $20. The guy at my store said that it is a good alternative to Cointreau for cocktails, so I am planning to give it a try.

                3. Cook's Illustrated has a sangria recipe in their May/June 1998 issue. They
                  tasted Cointreau, Curaco, Grand Marnier and Triple Sec. They say Triple Sec is the "surprise winner for its bold, sweet flavor."

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: blackpippi

                    What kind of Cuaracao and what kind of Triple Sec? Saying that Triple Sec is the "surprise winner..." is kinda ridiculous since there are many different brands and they can taste extremely different.

                    1. re: Scottes

                      They have done a couple of tastings of orange liqueurs. The one that mentioned the brands used Leroux triple sec. Cointreau came in dead last two separate times, one time noting that the orange flavor of it was the faintest.

                      1. re: Scottes

                        Scottes, the actual Cook's Illustrated article was of course more specific; the winner of their orange liqueur taste test was the Leroux triple sec, and they were "surprised" because it was much cheaper than Grand Marnier (they didn't say how it did) or Cointreau (which came in last, as JK said). The two recipes that they tested the orange liqueurs in were Crepes Suzette and margaritas.