Cointreau is more than a triple sec, it's an orange liqueur in a league of its own

Nov 15, 2022
Bartenders Corner I Cointreau

All Triple-Secs are not created equal. To understand why, and what makes Cointreau so unique, we need to look why Cointreau is more than a Triple-Sec.

In mid-1800s France, orange-flavoured curacao liqueurs were popular. Many firms developed their own recipes – most of which were far too sweet and very unsophisticated. Less than impressed, talented liqueur maker Édouard Cointreau set out to create his own. After much trial and error, Édouard hit perfection with a “triple” concentration of orange aromas. He named his new creation “Triple-Sec” because it was less sweet – or “dry” (“sec” in French) than curacao liqueurs. Édouard’s Triple-Sec was a massive hit, and soon imitators flooded the market. In a bold move, Édouard simply renamed his original Triple-Sec “Cointreau”. This was the birth of the Cointreau brand we know today.

Here is a dozen more reasons to make Cointreau – widely considered the original Triple-Sec – your Triple-Sec of choice. Because if you want to offer true quality, you can’t go past the original.

1. Cointreau is less sweet and super smooth

Many Triple-Secs taste sweet and syrupy. Most are made with some combination of alcohol, orange peels, water sugar – way too much sugar in most cases. This leads to syrupy products lacking real depth of flavour – most unlike Cointreau’s smoothness and flavour complexity. Crafted from a precise blend of sweet and bitter orange peels, Cointreau is perfectly balanced and super smooth.

2. Cointreau offers complex layers of aromas

The best noses in the world attribute to Cointreau around 40 different aromas. These many olfactive layers make Cointreau so much more complex and alluring than that of your average Triple-Sec .Sweet orange peels and essences impart juicy, fruity orange aromatic notes, with touches of orange blossom, rose, and lavender. Bitter orange peels and essences give Cointreau a layered bouquet: initially fresh like mint or very zesty lime, then spicy bergamot, and finally pepper and cardamom notes. Cointreau is unrivalled is the way it captures all the many different flavours of bitter & sweet orange – not just one single note.

3. Only the finest ingredients go into Cointreau

Master Distiller Carole Quinton is Cointreau’s “nose”. She travels the world searching out the finest sweet and bitter orange peels. Then she supervises their maceration and distilling to ensure the extraction of exquisite oils and aromatics. For a deeper understanding of the full flavour spectrum contained inside Cointreau’s signature amber bottle, check out the Cointreau Aroma Wheel.

4. The original Triple-Sec – but that’s not all!

Today, Triple-Sec is the generic name used for any orange-flavoured spirit1. Cointreau is more than a Triple-Sec 2 – it’s a fully-fledged ‘orange liqueur’. This is an important distinction because it means that Cointreau conforms to superior production and quality requirements set down in law. A spirit must fulfil all these requirements to earn the title of liqueur2.

5. Cointreau inspired a host of classic cocktails

Cointreau was one of the first cocktail ingredients that was called for by name. Great bartenders didn’t just call for Triple-Sec in their creations; the original recipes for the Sidecar, White Lady, Margarita and Cosmopolitan all require Cointreau.

6. Over 350 cocktail recipes call for Cointreau

Every mixologist worth their salt knows Cointreau’s extraordinary power to impart aromas and amplify flavours. When mixed in a cocktail, Cointreau’s incredible spectrum of aromatic notes helps reveal the other ingredients and bring balance, depth and unrivalled freshness to the mix.

Click here for an incredible list of classic and innovative cocktails!

7. Impress your patrons with the Cointreau balance test

When they best mixologists are asked why they use Cointreau, they can use a little trick to demonstrate. Cointreau’s distinctive square bottle can be balanced on any of its four corners. This signifies the 4 perfectly balanced ingredients in Cointreau – sweet & bitter orange peels, water, sugar, and alcohol. With three times the concentration of orange aromas and significantly less sweetness than other products on the market, Cointreau is a perfectly balanced, crystalline liquid. Try it with your Cointreau bottle. And see for yourself.

8. A Margarita without Cointreau is not worth its salt.

Research confirms what the best mixologists have always known. According to an independent study, using Cointreau instead of ordinary Triple-Sec results in a Margarita that delights with superior ‘organoleptic’ qualities, delivering a more aromatic, fresh, and balanced Margarita experience. Try the original recipe now or check out some flavourful variations with 56 delicious Margarita recipes.

9. Cointreau believes in ‘terroir.’

As you’d expect for the brand with so much history, Cointreau cares deeply about the concept of terroir, and sources its orange peels from respected producers from Brazil to Spain and from Ghana to Senegal in search of the perfect blend of orange flavours.

10. Cointreau takes action on sustainability

Cointreau is committed to action on sustainability, preserving terroirs and biodiversity for future generations. They help their sweet and bitter orange tree producers adopt sustainable practices and contribute to Rémy Cointreau Group’s targets to achieve net zero carbon by 2050.

11. Cointreau is a multi-award winner

With over 170 years of expertise and 300 medals won since its founding, Cointreau has received 3 new distinctions from the most respected international spirits competitions.

  • Gold Medal Winner (Liqueurs) at International Spirits Challenge Tasting Awards with 75 international judges and over 1000 competitors from 70 countries.
  • A score of 98/100 in the Chairman’s Trophy in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge.
  • A Silver Medal in the 4th Bartender Spirits Awards.

12. Cointreau was born from commitment and passion

Edouard Cointreau experimented for years until finally perfecting his recipe in 1885. In his own words:

I have passionately thrown myself into researching this liqueur. I wanted it to have the purity of crystal and a delicately subtle flavour thanks to the perfect harmony of sweet and bitter orange peels.

More than a century later, bartenders worldwide honour his creation, and give it pride of place in many of their finest creations. To can share Édouard’s passion for perfection and elevate your own creations to surprise and delight your customers. By using Cointreau L’ Unique, you add the guarantee of the exceptional richness of 40+ aromas and over 170 years of know-how to every cocktail you mix.

So next time you’re ready to re-order your triple-sec, remember: if you want to offer consumers the best, offer them the original – Cointreau.

If you’d like to know more about Cointreau’s incredible story, please contact the Spirits Academy Brand ambassador in your state or to order contact your state manager.

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