Mix It Up

7 Cointreau Cocktails

The French liqueur, Cointreau, has become a definite necessity in any modern bar, for both professional and home-based bartenders alike.

By: Tiff Christie|May 10,2020

Mentioned as a must have Liqueur on every list for home bartenders and included in some way in every bars cocktail lists, Cointreau is a premium triple sec orange-flavoured liqueur.


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Not as heavy as Grand Marnier and often sipped as an Aperitif poured over ice, or drunk as a Digestif, is an orange liqueur of the style called “sec”, because the citrus fruits that go into it is dried before they are distilled in pure alcohol.

The “triple” comes both from it being triple-distilled and because it is made from several types of citrus fruits – both sweet and bitter oranges, it is hailed as being less sweet than other citrus liqueurs.

Cointreau is probably the most recognized brand of orange liqueur in the triple sec style, and Grand Marnier, despite being French, is more in line with the Dutch curacao style as it has an aged brandy base.

Clear orange liqueurs tend to work with light spirits like vodka, gin, and white rum, whereas brandy-based liqueurs work better with aged spirits like dark rum, cognac, and whisky. In a pinch, you can substitute one for the other, but it doesn’t always work.

Extremely well regarded by professionals and home mixologists alike, the flavours in Cointreau are perfectly balanced between bitter orange and sweetness.

Warm spices lend complexity to the spirit while complementing the orange. In a great orange liqueur the other flavours should serve to enhance the orange flavour, not mask it, and in this warm avoiding to cross paths  Cointreau excels.


  • Style: Triple sec, 80 proof.
  • Country of origin: France
  • Colour: Clear.
  • Nose: Subtle orange, spice, some alcohol.
  • Palate: Well balanced. Dry, bitter orange, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove.

The Cointreau recipe is secret, only known to three family members who never travel together. What we know is that dried bitter orange peels from the Caribbean (Haiti and the Netherlands Antilles) and sweet orange peels from Seville and Valencia are used, along with spices, alcohol and sugar.

At 40 ABV Cointreau is a potent, clear, and versatile product. It can be enjoyed on its own as a digestive, to improve the flavour of coffee, in pastries, for flaming and in cocktails.

It is said by researchers that orange as a flavour is the most popular of all fruit aromas globally, which explains the reason of Cointreau’s worldwide fame and popularity.

And as a mixer, it is indispensable, and vastly preferable, with its slightly bitter and brooding personality compared to sugary low-shelf triple secs.

Cointreau is a workhorse of a liqueur in cocktails like the Margarita, the Sidecar and the Cosmo. It’s the aromatic, spicy, bittersweet flavour of perfect for a variety of drinks and plays well with a multitude of spirits.

Through its flavour, the liqueur has an affinity for pomegranates, end of season blackberries and hot peppers, basil, pears, and even a seasonal pumpkin spice combo. Apple cider and Champagne mix well with Cointreau as do the warmer spices, like ginger, Nutmeg and Figs,

In any season, Cointreau, of course, appreciates citrus juices.

The Basics:

  • Cointreau was created in 1875 by Édouard Cointreau and his brother Adolphe
  • The company was established to create spirits using local fruits
  • In 1899, just three years after the invention of motion pictures, Edouard Cointreau launches the first advertising film, featuring the famous Pierrot.
  • In the early 1900s, 800,000 bottles of Cointreau are sold per year
  • By 1923, the brand was exporting to the United States, Canada and Latin America.
  • By the 1960s, James Bond embodies the image of Cointreau in the advertisements.
  • In 1989 Cointreau merged with Rémy Martin, the cognac distiller founded in 1724.
  • In 2007, Dita Von Teese became the Brand Ambassador.
  • Today, Pierre’s grandson Alfred Cointreau is a proud and passionate representative of the brand’s sixth generation.

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7 Cointreau Cocktails

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