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Sep 29, 2011 12:24 PM

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.

                       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,,,