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Generic Triple Sec ==> Cointreau

Is there nothing in between these two things pricewise? Generic Triple Sec ( I learned that Cointreau actually IS a Triple Sec) and Cointreau? Something that I can elevate my Margs with past the Generic, but not as pricey as Cointreau?


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  1. Cointreau is very solid from the orange peel flavors to the base spirit. It unfortunately is pricey.

    Bars in Boston have started using things like (Royal) Combier Orange Liqueur and a few use Luxardo Triplum Orange Liqueur. Other orange liquers that get use are different like Grand Marnier -- besides being pricey, it's Cognac base takes the spirit in a different direction; Clement Creole Shrubb -- also pricey, has more subtle orange notes with a rhum agricole base but often a favorite with certain Mai Tai afficianados. One bar occasionally uses Bauchaunt which has a good price point but has more subtle orange flavors. For curacaos, Senor Curacao is a good quality spirit but isn't exactly the same as a triple sec (then again, grand Marnier, Creole Shrub, and Bauchant aren't either).

    In terms of home users, Hiram Walker triple sec is supposed to be decent and is $10-12 a bottle. I have never tried but I know some bloggers who swear by it for certain drinks.

    There are also some great oddballs if you can find them -- like Van der Hum, a South African tangerine and spice liqueur that runs about $20 a bottle.

    Long winded, but yes Cointreau is good, but Combier might be a more affordable option without much noticeable difference in certain drinks.


    13 Replies
      1. re: yarm

        I've been looking in vain for a Cointreau alternate, but the best of the ones that are readily available to me so far has been Patron Citronge. But, due to the fact that I did not like Citronge's mouth feel and I saved less than $10 in buying it, I still prefer Cointreau's taste and thus will pay the extra cost.

        1. re: hawkeyeui93

          They both taste like oranges.
          They both largely disappear in sugary, frozen drinks.

          That's about as much as Triple Sec and Cointreau have in common.

          There's only one I'll pour in a glass and sip neat. (hint: it's not the Triple Sec)

          It all depends on how you're going to use it as to which one you might find a better price/value continuum.

        2. re: yarm

          I'll add a commendation for Senior Curacao. It's not exactly the same as Cointreau, but to me it's a pretty comparable sweet-dry orange flavor and it's miles better than Citronge, for low $20s a bottle. Not easy to find, though.

          1. re: yarm

            I just tried a bottle of BOLS triple sec that is not bad.

            I love the Luxardo product, but it's no cheaper than Cointreau.

            Crazy thing is, Cointreau is cheap in Europe. Like $10 a bottle, it's just the American importer that can get away with the crazy pricing.

            1. re: StriperGuy

              HARDLY. I just spent 16 Euros on sale (a little over $20) for a 70cl bottle of Cointreau in the Paris region -- at a big retailer, where the pricing is about as low as it will go.

              I have no idea who told you it's cheap in Europe, but they lied to you.

              1. re: sunshine842

                The "they" is me. And I have bought it in Italy for 10E recently. Maybe they charge more in France. Maybe I got lucky.

              2. re: StriperGuy

                When I purchased the Luxardo Triplum, which is an excellent alternative to Cointreau, it was a solid $5-7 less than Cointreau. Maybe more, I can't remember exactly, but I remember it being significantly less expensive.

                That was ~6 months ago, so maybe pricing has changed.

                Marie Brizzard is also good and less than Cointreau.

                1. re: Alcachofa

                  Just finished a bottle of the Luxardo product which I agree is excellent.

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    I can't get my head around its flavor profile. Botanical, is the only descriptor I can come up with. And it comes through in cocktails, which I don't like (for margaritas at least. I can see how it might actually go well in some other types of cocktails).

                    1. re: tommy

                      I LIKE the botanical aspect. Tastes of fresh orange zest...

                      1. re: StriperGuy

                        Is that what it is? I'm thinking I need to have some orange zest and qualify that flavor and then put it all together. The stuff is sort of meaty as well. Not sure if this is all part of it.

                        1. re: tommy

                          In orange season (January, February) I have experimented with making my own, orange zest and grain alcohol. You can make some beautiful stuff. Mix dried peel and fresh zest, even more interesting...

            2. I use Gran Gala and Harlequin - both are similar to Grand Marnier at half the price ($20 here in NC, $16 on sale.)

              I also have a bottle of Creole Shrubb I save for special occasions, because it is more expensive and I haven't seen it locally since I bought the bottle, pretty sure it was discontinued here.

              1. I use 1 ounce of triple sec in a margarita. Using Cointreau, that's about $1.30/drink. If I were to find something that's 20 dollars a bottle, I'd save about 50 cents a cocktail. At one cocktail a day, that could probably feed a starving chid somewhere, but in the grand scheme it's not very much money to me, especially considering I prefer Cointreau *vastly* over any other triple sec.

                Now, if someone produced something that tastes like Cointreau but at half the price, I'd very likely consider it.

                8 Replies
                1. re: tommy

                  I've heard Marie Brizard is very good, $26 a liter at hi-time wine, I've never had the opportunity to try it so can't say personally. Same goes for Senior Curacao, neither are all that easy to find.

                  1. re: ncyankee101

                    I can't seem to find Marie Brizard locally, but will keep my eye out.

                    I've had blind tastings with Citronge, Bols, Luxardo, and one or two others. Cointreau always wins. I'd like ot see how MB stacks up.

                    1. re: ncyankee101

                      I would like to try Marie Brizard's, but it is not available where I reside [and it is allegedly illegal to ship booze here]. I'm hoping I find it on a driving trip from the flyover zone to Florida in mid-November.

                      1. re: hawkeyeui93


                        I finally got a bottle of the Marie Brizzard triple sec - tasted side by side with the Cointreau, very similar. The Cointreau seems to have just the slightest bit more orange flavor, and a bit longer and hotter finish (tasted neat), but I find them virtually indistinguishable. At $20 for the MB vs $30 I paid for the Cointreau, I would say no comparison if the MB was more readily available. I guess Ill have to plan ahead to keep it in stock.

                        1. re: ncyankee101

                          Yankee: I'm in Destin, FL this week, so I need to look for Marie Brizzard ... The cheapest I can get Cointreau for in Iowa is $35-plus a fifth.

                          1. re: hawkeyeui93

                            I know it is the same price here, I got a bottle from somewhere (online, PA, Atlanta I forget where) for $30 and have heard it as low as $22 in Cali, and $26 at Total Wine in Atlanta. Oddly enough, Hitime wine in cali has the 750 for $36 but the liter for $34.

                            1. re: ncyankee101

                              Cointreau was on sale for $28.99 recently here in PA, that may be it. I made sure to get a bottle, was hunting around on one of the last few days of the sale because so many of the stores were sold out!

                              I can't readily get the Brizzard triple sec, and the PA price is $25 anyway at special order. LOL Useless, essentially. Have to try to gauge where I can stop on my trip coming up, but my trips up north don't seem to help much. NY (on I-84), CT, MA, just doesn't seem to add much in the way of better pricing or variety, although I did pick up Old Monk rum once in a NY shop; that was good, and cheap at about 13 bucks.

                              1. re: CrazyOne

                                I also got a bottle of Old Monk 7 yr from an online retailer in NY but paid $16, I haven't seen at at many other places. I did get a replacement from a TX place for $13 just last week.

                                DrinkupNY.com also has the 12 yr Old Monk for $18, I am quite interested in trying that one.

                  2. It has been a long time since I have had Cointreau by itself, and since I have been happy with my margaritas made with Gran Gala and Harlequin I haven't had much reason to buy a bottle.

                    Thinking about descriptions I have seen of the bitter orange flavor profile of Cointreau, two things I have in my house came to mind - Stirrings Blood orange bitters ($5.99 for 12 oz) and Aperol ($20 for a 750). Just for fun I decided to try margaritas made with these.

                    Using a recipe of 1.5 oz Tequila : 3/4 oz orange : 1/2 oz lime, I found it wasn't quite sweet enough to balance out the lime so I added a small amount of agave nectar, about 1/2 tsp.

                    I found the Stirrings made an interesting drink with a good bit more bitterness than my usual, but the Aperol had a stronger orange flavor. I enjoyed both drinks, and tried my usual afterwards, and it definitely had a different character, the orange taste was a little more subdued. Not sure which I would describe as "better" though I plan to go back and try them side-by-side later,

                    I am curious to know if anyone has tried these or might try them and report back to me what your impressions are compared to Cointreau.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: ncyankee101

                      Ok as a follow-up - I tried these again side-by-side with my old stand-by (same ratio reduced size so I could still walk afterwards LOL). I like the margarita made with Stirrings BOB, wouldn't really say it was better than the Harlequin just different. More bitter and orangey, but the harlequin marg is good in it's own way. smooth and sweet and the tequila flavor comes through a little more.

                      The Aperol tends to dominate and not really taste like a margarita at the same ratios. I did try it again at a ratio of 1 oz teq to 1/3 oz aperol and lime juice, and about 1/4 tsp agave nectar and it was really good, all three elements were in balance and the aperol gave an interesting dimension to the drink.

                      1. re: ncyankee101

                        I substituted a shot of Campari for Triple Sec [Cointreau] and is an agreeable permutation on the traditional margarita!

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            The Campari made it a light red [or some might say pinkish] color.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              The Aperol made it a light orange color.

                            2. re: EvergreenDan

                              Dan: I used a whole shot of Campari in my Cointreau-less margarita and finally fell head over heels for Campari! Will adding Cointreau blow me away? I'm excited to test drive your aforementioned recipe ....

                              1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                Well, I guess you went and tried it, so you'll have to tell us which you prefer. The blue curacao scares me a little. ;)

                                My thought was to keep the recipe pretty close to a Margarita. If you like your drink, try it with gin. It's no longer vaguely Margarita-like, but it's a nice combo that I go back to frequent. It's sort of like a Gin and Tonic, with the bitter coming from Campari.

                                Of course, we've drifted off the Contreau v base-quality triple sec topic.

                                1. re: EvergreenDan


                                  You don't have to twist my arm to substitute gin! I will let you know how it goes ... and yes, we have steered far afield from the Generic Triple Sec ===> Cointreau debate.

                              2. re: EvergreenDan


                                Here's one I made ....

                                2 shots tequila
                                1 shot Bols Blue Curacao
                                1 shot Campari
                                1 ounce fresh lime juice
                                Dash of Kosher Salt ....

                                It makes for a gorgeous storm blue colored drink and has a great balance of the competing spirits.

                          2. I could not find (Royal) Combier Orange Liqueur at my local superstore. They did however have Marie Brizard at around $20.. Seems to be pretty good stuff. The guy at the store says is was the "best" Triple Sec,,,


                            1. Dale DeGroff and F. Paul Pacult recently (about a year ago) did a little trade tour where Cointreau was tasted vs. various "triple-sec(s?)." No idea what the plural is. I want to say it was Grand Marnier, Combier and Hiram Walker but sadly (actually not so sadly), the evening turned into much more than a simple tasting and after a year, things are fuzzy. It was really interesting to taste these liqueurs straight, side by side though and here was my takeaway.

                              I didn't want to drink any of them straight. Period. I've always joked with my bar buddies that no one ever orders gin shots (though it has rightly been pointed out that for many, a Martini is simply a cold shot of gin in a fancy glass) and if anyone ever did, you knew the evening was going to head sideways. But I now also believe the same about Triple Sec--if you stand behind a bar for a living and someone orders a shot of Triple Sec, run for the hills before you wish you had a shotgun under the bar. Things cannot go well from here.

                              Strangely, for such an important item on any backbar, even in this era of sourcing speciality/luxury/boutique products, Triple Sec--in nearly every form--is terrible straight. The one exception may be Grand Marnier, but as noted, it is only "sort of" a Triple Sec but also an orange flavored Cognac. As such, Triple Secs persistance is largely reliant on its ability to transform itself, and the drinks it goes into, to something that is tasty. Even bitters and soda doesn't need as much help.

                              Behold the power of the Margarita, and to a lesser extent the Kamakazi, in creating a market for something that will rarely if ever, be consumed straight. And when I say a market, I mean one that is really important in the world of drinks. If you work for a distributor as a salesperson, your boss doesn't care if you lost the Creme de Noyeaux business as long as you still have the Triple Sec. It is practically a well item. If you are talking about a Mexican joint, it is the single most important piece of business after the well Tequila. And this raises an interesting point.

                              A quick sidebar. Cooks talk about never using wine you wouldn't drink on its own when cooking with wine. But I don't want to drink any Triple Sec on its own. Now you could argue, Triple Sec is like salt--you wouldn't eat just plain salt but if your food didn't have any salt in it, while you may not be able to taste it, you'd think something was missing. The current state of the best kitchens and bars trends towards using only the best quality ingredients, thoughtfully sourced. But this creates a quandry for me.

                              You know how the Italians put really really good tomatoes and tuna in cans? It sometimes make me wonder what is, or isn't, the best quality. Is "fresh" always better? If you make your own Triple Sec, will the Margarita taste any better? I don't know that for sure.

                              In fact, I'd buy the cheapest Triple Sec you can find that makes a good drink. Some will show more orange character. Some will be a bit "hot." Some will be more cloying than others. What Tequila you use and how you bring the sour to the table should inform the Triple Sec you use and, I dare say, it probably doesn't matter to your palete as much as your ego. It also matters if you are blending or not, duh.

                              In this case, I am a fan of frugality.

                              40 Replies
                              1. re: ellaystingray

                                Are you suggesting that the brand of tequila and triple sec don't matter but are merely for purposes of one's ego? I have to disagree if so. I can taste the difference in tequilas and triple secs in cocktails, and tend to use what I enjoy.

                                1. re: tommy


                                  That is not what I was trying to say. I think the Tequila used is very important. I also believe that a "true" Margarita has nothing to do with Triple Sec. How you choose to impart the lime/sour component, has a lot to do with which Triple Sec you use. And if you are blending vs. rocks, even more so.

                                  I did not want to suggest someone shouldn't use Triple Sec, but which one?...I've found, for me, it is shockingly unimportant.

                                  1. re: ellaystingray

                                    Triple sec is, for me, is 20% of the cocktail. No small player. Some people use a higher ratio.

                                    My definition of a margarita is tequila, triple sec, and lime juice. Each of the triple secs discussed here have different flavor profiles, and make a difference in the cocktail. I'd be shocked if others can't tell the difference, but rest assured my friends and I can.

                                2. re: ellaystingray

                                  I actually like Cointreau, and the Luxardo product with an ice cube or two...

                                  1. re: ellaystingray

                                    I'm all for frugality when an affordable quality presents itself, but I have yet to find a reasonably priced substitute for Cointreau. However, it is worth noting that in my recipe/version of a margarita, I use one bottle of Cointreau to two fifths of tequila [and thus the price of the Cointreau is spread over many, many margaritas].

                                    1. re: ellaystingray

                                      "though it has rightly been pointed out that for many, a Martini is simply a cold shot of gin in a fancy glass" Actually, that would be wrongly pointed out by many, but let us not digress.

                                      It sounds like you're implying that you can use cheap triple sec instead of Cointreau in a margarita. Wow, that simply is not true for my taste buds. I've had margaritas made with the cheap stuff, and they always taste sugary and crappy. But with Cointreau, Luxardo Triplum, or Marie Brizzard, huge difference for the better.

                                      Also, there are a lot more drinks that use triple sec, starting with the Sidecar, and I don't feel like listing any more after that. It is not a "one trick pony".

                                      1. re: Alcachofa

                                        To be clear, I don't think a Martini is a cold shot of gin in a fancy glass, just that for many, that's all it is.

                                        Also, there are certainly many drinks that have Triple Sec in them, but lets be frank, a Sidecar (or Sex on the Beach or Adios Motherf**ker or Flaming Lamborghini) hardly keeps that bottle in stock. I might have been remiss in leaving out the Cosmo and Long Island Iced Tea in terms of drinks that keep Triple Sec right where you can reach it.

                                        As far as the Triple Sec goes, I need to emphasize that while I don't think you need to have Cointreau to make a good drink, everyone should use the product that tastes best to them.

                                        1. re: ellaystingray

                                          I don't really care what keeps Cointreau or other triple secs "right where you can reach it". This is not an "industry" board. It's a board for people who like good drinks.

                                          Other than that, thanks for the clarification. I agree with your points.

                                      2. re: ellaystingray

                                        Cointreau or Clement creole shrubb with a piece of ice is a wonderful thing personally. i think you buy cheap Triple Sec or its equivalent at your own peril.

                                        1. re: ellaystingray

                                          Hmmm, I always order Cointreau straight when I'm in a bar that doesn't make good cocktails and I don't feel like wine. Don't know about the evening heading sideways, but then I'm also told I have an amazing capacity for alcohol...I don't know if I should be proud of that or not (?).

                                          That being said I really do not like generic Triple Sec - I don't know what it is but it tastes strange to me (I can even pick it out in a cocktail) and taste definitely overides frugality in my world.

                                          And as a side note I'm not a fan of Grand Marnier - odd, I know, but it's just too sweet for me.

                                          1. re: TheHuntress


                                            I mean no disrespect to your tongue. If you like Cointreau straight, have at it. And if you and your evening don't go wonky, all the better for everyone. After all, it is your mouth, put in it what you want.

                                            1. re: ellaystingray

                                              LOL No offence taken, really - maybe it's the Cointreau that's responsible for the random happenings on my nights out and not me.

                                          2. re: ellaystingray

                                            To each their own, but... Cointreau can easily be drank neat, or preferably on the rocks with soda water. It's a really full-flavored liqueur that is in a different class altogether from the things labeled "triple sec". Grand Marnier, also delicious straight, has no business being compared to triple sec or cointreau: they're just too different. The problem with generic triple secs that I've had is that they're basically sugary and orange-flavored. Nothing else. However, they do have their place, especially when you're talking about shots like a Kamikaze, since no one is really being terribly critical about taste when ordering a shooter.

                                            As far as margaritas go, I'm not too picky. I can tell the differences in tequila far more easily than I can tell whether someone used HW or Bols instead of Cointrea.

                                            1. re: The Big Crunch

                                              With a discriminating palate that can taste the differences in tequila, one would think that it would extend to Cointreau versus Hiram Walker/Bols Triple Sec ...

                                              1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                I would tend to agree. There's a huge difference.

                                                1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                  After enjoying a number of margaritas the past week, I take back my statement - cointreau makes a far and away better margarita. The difference is even more pronounced in a White Lady.

                                                2. re: The Big Crunch

                                                  Have you actually tried Cointreau side by side vs Grand Marnier? Because I just did and I don't understand your statement that they have no business being compared, they seem more similar than different to me.

                                                  In any event, I think Clement Creole Shrubb is better than either one, with a more interesting orange taste. Despite being rum based I find I can use it in margaritas to excellent effect, though I generally save it for mai tais.

                                                  1. re: ncyankee101

                                                    they are both made with oranges. Undeniably true.

                                                    But other than that, they're chalk and cheese.

                                                    Cointreau is distilled from orange peels -- Gran Marnier is orange-infused cognac.

                                                    While they can be used similarly, they're not the same thing.

                                                    (and yes, I drink both on a fairly regular basis)

                                                    That said, however, I wouldn't pour either of them into a mixed drink - I'd far rather drink them neat, or over just an ice cube.

                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      I know the differences in how they are made - and yes they are different - but I would hardly say chalk and cheese, and I would hardly say they have no business being compared.

                                                      Grand Marnier and Cointreau are definitely far more similar in taste than the current Bols Triple Sec and Cointreau.

                                                      1. re: ncyankee101

                                                        comparing Bols Triple Sec with Cointreau is sort of like comparing Old Style to an artisanal lambic or Boone's Farm with a vintage Bordeaux.

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          And if I am not mistaken, was the premise of the entire thread.

                                                        2. re: ncyankee101

                                                          Got to disagree there, the brandy base of Grand Marnier and the neutral base of Cointreau put them in different categories all together.
                                                          I would never think of one as a substitute for the other they are dissimilar other than being flavored with orange. Perhaps Cheese and Chanterelle rather than chalk since both are great.

                                                          1. re: chefj

                                                            FWIW, we had gotten some Grand Marnier recently, and almost always have Cointreau, and while we had both we made two margaritas the same way, one with each, so we could taste test. We both thought the Cointreau one was better.

                                                        3. re: sunshine842

                                                          I looked for references on the different production of Grand Marnier and Cointreau. From an authoritative source ;)

                                                          "... a liqueur that blended an alcohol extraction of Bigarade oranges from the Caribbean, Cognac, and sugar syrup, and called it Grand Marnier."

                                                          From the Cointreau website:

                                                          "distillation of sweet and bitter orange peels. It is then blended with natural alcohol, sugar and water," http://www.cointreau.com/faq-25.html#...

                                                          The two processes sound nearly identical, except of course for the base spirit (Cognac v. "natural alcohol", which I assume to be GNS). And the aging, sugar content, orange varieties, used, and so forth. Perhaps I've overlooked something?

                                                          www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                                          1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                            Other than the fact that cognac has a more distinct taste than GNS, you may be on to something!

                                                            1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                              All I know is when I tasted them side-by-side - I did this twice in the last few days - though I could taste some differences, mainly the sweetness of the GM - they both were basically sweet and orangey tasting. Neither one tasted at all like chalk or cheese.

                                                              And the orange taste of the GM obscured the taste of the Cognac to the extent that if I didn't know, I would never guess it was Cognac. I would still (probably) be able to identify Creole Shrubb as being rum-based. And given the choice of sipping one of these three, I much prefer the Clement. To me it has the most distinctive flavor of the three.

                                                              1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                I drink them both fairly regular, and while they're definitely both orange, I could tell them apart with not a moment's hesitation. Texture, flavor, aroma -- they have some similarities, but yes, I find them chalk and cheese.

                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                  Your palate is obviously ultra-refined, I haven't tasted chalk since I was a kid perhaps I should try it again. I am sure it is much cheaper than cheese and I probably couldn't tell the difference.

                                                                  1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                    are you just being cute, or do you not realize that "chalk and cheese" is a figure of speech for "they're nothing alike"? It doesn't mean that either of them taste like chalk OR cheese.

                                                                    I thought about "apples and oranges" but that was just weird in a discussion about GM and Cointreau. (now Calvados and Cointreau, perhaps....)

                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                      Calvados and Cointreau. Hehehe. That's good.

                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                        The point is that Grand Marnier and Cointreau are not "Calvados and Cointreau", but more like "Campari and Cynar". You can tell them apart, but if you like one there is a good chance you will like the other, they share some basic flavor characteristics, and one can be substituted for the other with some adjustments.

                                                                        I am also a fan of the Clement Creole Shrubb, but usually use it in rum drinks. I am also curious about the new Ferrand Dry Curacao as another orange liqueur option.

                                                                        1. re: nickls

                                                                          Exactly my point Nickls, I never said they were indistinguishable, just more similar than different. I find CC Shrubb quite distinctive from those two though, and much more interesting and multi-dimensional.

                                                                          And I don't know about you but I find the statement "chalk and cheese" really annoying and condescending, I assume it is a British saying.

                                                                          1. re: ncyankee101

                                                                            Yes, it's British -- and it's JUST a figure of speech. I'll pass it on to Liz that it pisses you off - I'm sure she'll send you a formal apology.

                                                                          2. re: nickls

                                                                            "Campari and Cynar"....

                                                                            You take that back! ;)

                                                                      2. re: sunshine842

                                                                        I find them chalk and cheese too, sunshine. I hear ya!

                                                                2. re: sunshine842

                                                                  What are you using for cocktails calling for triple sec or Grand Marnier?

                                                                3. re: ncyankee101

                                                                  I find Cointreau and Grand Marnier are very different to each other and would never compare the two, other than to say that they're both orange flavoured. While they can be used in similar applications, they are not exactly similar in taste. Personally I can happily drink Cointreau until the bottle is empty, but Grand Marnier just doesn't do it for me - far, far too sweet.

                                                                  1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                    I like the taste of Grand Marnier, but it leaves me with a sick, evil headache - so I usually stick to the Cointreau.

                                                                    Unless you get lucky enough to find a bottle of Grand Marnier Cuvee du Centenaire -- their 25-year-old version (despite the name) -- it's been stolen from Olympus, as it is the nectar of the gods, I'm sure. Not sticky - just smooth and wonderful. (and expensive, unfortunately)

                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                      Oooh, I've not had the privilige, I shall have to look out for it. I have recently made friends with a man who can get his hands on the seemingly impossible. I don't know how he does it, but I have the utmost respect for his connections. He saved my life last year in a situation that involved a 25 year old scotch and my drunken generosity...

                                                            2. I really haven't found anything that can compare to Cointreau as a "substitute" - Triple Sec is OK in a combination where its brassiness isn't too noticeable, but I find Cointreau much smoother and more pleasant. I certainly wouldn't recommend a flavored tequila. Grand Marnier is entirely different since it's Cognac-based. No comparison, in my opinion. Grand Marnier is the only orange liqueur that I enjoy straight.

                                                              1. Another thing I am doing to elevate my margs, as you say, is dabbing blue agave syrup around the glass rim before I sea salt it. More salt clings, and I like the initial sweet taste it introduces, a mili-second befor the lime and tequila hit the buds. Then I rotate the glass in clockwise increments between sips.

                                                                1. My long didactic post might have been influenced by a Margarita or four. So let me be clear.

                                                                  In my opinion, if you are Triple Secing your Margarita, which one you use is of less import than the Tequila and sour components. I suppose if you are making a rocks Maggie with El Tesoro and hand hand squeezed lime juice, Cointreau would be perfectly appropriate as a way to deliver the sweet and add layers of flavor. If you are adding Aperol or Falernum to create some sort of frankenrita, as long as it tastes good, use what ever you want.

                                                                  I've just found that the Triple Sec component is rarely what makes a good Maggie.

                                                                  So save your hard earned duckets for better Tequila.

                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ellaystingray

                                                                    For Margartas if in Mexico (better yet get a frend to bring some back) the Mexican knock off of Cointreau is Controy its lighter and makes a better Margarita. Also it is cheap.


                                                                    1. re: don515

                                                                      Controy is marketed in the United States by Patron, it's called "Citronage." Same thing.

                                                                    2. re: ellaystingray

                                                                      This is a reply to an old thread, but just two weeks ago I tended bar at a Margarita party. 47 tequilas and a few mezcals, 9 triple secs. The triple sec is as important as the tequila and the fresh squeezed lime juice.

                                                                      I don't know what proportions you use but I go by the traditional 2 oz tequila, 3/4-1 oz triple sec, 3/4 oz lime juice, and depending upon the sweetness of the triple sec maybe 1/4-1/2 oz simple or turbinado syrup. Shaken on ice and strained and served in a chilled cocktail glass.

                                                                      No ice, no blender. Maybe 1/3 to 1/2 the rim salted on the outside. Sometimes I use smoked salt as well.

                                                                      1. re: JMF

                                                                        Sure. Any time you have an ingredient that is 25-40% of your cocktail, it's going to be important. I don't know why this isn't just generally accepted.

                                                                        1. re: JMF

                                                                          So, I will admit that side by side, with that proportion of Triple Sec, there is probably a distinct difference. Can you tell us the one (or couple) that seemed to work best in your opinion?

                                                                          1. re: ellaystingray

                                                                            Some of the ones most liked were Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao Ancienne Methode, Combier, Mandarine Napoleon, Grand Gala, Solerno Blood Orange liqueur (not Solara), and orange liqueurs that were a bit different but good, like Clement Creole Shrubb, Santa Teresa Rhum Orange liqueur, Mathilde Orange XO liqueur (Mathilde is made by Ferrand)

                                                                            1. re: JMF

                                                                              Haha, nice line up. Seriously. Thanks for the info.

                                                                              1. re: ellaystingray

                                                                                We have a very nice line up of spirits at these parties. I am part of the tasting panel for a distilling industry trade magazine, so we taste dozens of spirits a week, then every month or two the magazine throws a themed party.

                                                                        2. re: ellaystingray

                                                                          I think using cheap triple sec with an expensive tequila is akin to using Jose Cuervo's Margarita Mix for your "sour components."

                                                                        3. I am the only one who prefers clear (not blue) curacao?

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                              No-the blue looks fake and disgusting.

                                                                            2. I posted about this in another thread, but just to give a heads up in this far more highly trafficked thread: Solara Triple Grande Orange Liqueur is NOT a budget substitute for cointreau. It's a brandy-based blend, or say it suggests on their website, so it should be seen as more in line with Grand Marnier. The only problem is that it tastes little like Grand Marnier, and quite frankly, has little overt brandy odor. Taste is somewhere between weak chartreuse, Grand Marnier, cheap triple sec, and cheap brandy. Nose is somewhere between chartreuse and cointreau. Price in Bethesda, MD is around $18 a fifth. It is positioned on shelves right next to cointreau and has nothing in the way of explanatory info on the bottle as to what it is, so I'm probably not the only one who thought it might be a bargain cointreau substitute. Truth be told, it actually makes a decent maragarita variation, though I stress that it is, to me, a variation. It's just not the same, nor as good, as a 'rita with cointreau.

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                I've never heard of Solara, but GranGala is an Italian VSOP brandy-based orange liquor very similar to Grand Marnier, and only about $20 a bottle. I've tried them side by side straight, and there is difference,but I'd be lying if I said I could detect it in a margarita.

                                                                                1. re: tomjb27

                                                                                  I agree. Gran Gala is quite a value.

                                                                                  1. re: tomjb27

                                                                                    If I am looking for an economy version of Grand Marnier, Gran Gala works for me.

                                                                                    1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                                                      Good to hear. The store had Gran Gala as well, but I decided to try the thing I hadn't heard of before, which seems like it may have been a bit of a mistake. I still have half a fifth of Grand Marnier in my bar (I use it infrequently, so it could last a year) but in the future, I may try the Gran Gala when I need a replacement.

                                                                                      1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                        Harlequin is another brand that is pretty much a ringer for Gran Gala.

                                                                                2. How about making your own Triple Sec but using the best possible ingredients available?