Just What is Cointreau?
Cointreau is a triple-sec orange liqueur. It has been around since the late 1800s and is named after its creator: Edouard Cointreau. Cointreau is made from orange peels, bitter orange, sugar, and alcohol. It’s sweet, a bit tart, orange-y, and has a wonderful balance of subtle bitterness and vanilla undertones.
It’s one of my favorite liqueurs. I use it to make cocktails and also to flavor desserts, custards, soups, and edible oils. It’s particularly good when paired with caramel and chocolate. For example, Cointreau Truffles are to die for. And you might want to try this Cointreau-infused oil.
So you get the idea … I really like Cointreau! But what happens when you’re in a pinch and can’t get your hands on it? This is a scenario many of you will find yourselves in.
The LA Times and Epicurious have published quite a few suggestions on what you can substitute for Cointreau. Here’s a roundup of some of the more commonly suggested, readily available Cointreau substitutes that you should look for in your local liquor store.
What is The Difference Between Triple Sec and Curaçao?
Triple Sec is a type of flavored liqueur which is a fortifying alcohol manufactured using a blend of distilled alcohol and citrus fruits.
CuraÃ§ao, on the other hand, refers to a specific liqueur that's produced by the dutch spirits firm, Van Oosten. The firm regards the drink as the original orange flavored liqueur and states that the drink is made using a secret recipe developed by Jan Pieterszoon Sweerts in 1658.
What to Consider When Substituting Cointreau
Cointreau liqueur is an orange-flavored liqueur that has a special place in the hearts of many people for many years, among other things, of course, to make the famous and very delicious drink, the cosmopolitan.
Often, the drink is associated incorrectly with CrÃªpes Suzette, which is a dessert made by heating a crÃªpe in an orange-flavored sauce and bubbling it for a while until it acquires a melted and bubbling texture.
The popularity of the recipe has prompted people to substitute Cointreau with cheap brands, but it must be understood that there is always a loss in taste. Here are then some things to consider when making the substitution.
Consider the Alcohol Index
Among the qualities that make up the Cointreau, the high alcohol index is one of the most appreciated qualities; This means that the Cointreau liqueur has an alcohol volume of 40%. To help the substitution process, it is normal that cheap liqueur brands are of lower alcohol content than Cointreau, which results in a lower quality of the final cocktail.
Cointreau with a high alcohol content and a low quality are therefore almost indescribable in comparison to the original Cointreau, which is a guarantee high quality, and the taste will be totally lost by the use of such brands.
Substitute 1: Grand Marnier
Grand Marnier is a delightful orange-flavored ingredient that can be used to create cocktails and desserts. It is mainly used in the making of liqueurs like Mandarine Napoléon, which is my favorite with orange sorbet and champagne.
Grand Marnier is also a secret ingredient in Cosmopolitans. In this cocktail recipe, we use Cointreau (orange flavored liqueur), cranberry juice, lemon juice, and a bit of vodka. To save a bit of money, you can substitute Grand Marnier for the Cointreau. But be careful because some drink recipes are overly complicated. Avoid using substitutes by asking the host or hostess to help in choosing ingredients.
Substitute 2: Cura çao
Cura çao is one of the most popular liqueurs in Thailand, preceding even Krating Daeng (KD or Thai rum) in popularity, and added later to one of Thailand’s most popular drinks, Santafie. Cura çao is also a staple in the classic Brazilian drink, Biteca.
Cura çao is made from sugarcane juice and is similar in taste to Cointreau, but slightly more vanilla-y and darker in color with a bit of an orange flavor from the aging. But unfortunately, it costs about 4-5x as much as Cointreau, so you’ll only want to use this as an alternative if you’re operating on a budget.
Substitute 3: Hiram Walker Triple Sec
Both of these orange liqueurs are quite distinct from each other. Grand Marnier is made from a distillation process with two different kinds of oranges. Hiram’s Triple Sec is made from a single distillation of sun dried oranges. The taste profile is also quite different. Grand Mariner is citrusy with a hint of sweetness from the sugar that’s added to the flavoring syrup. The Triple Sec is bright and very sweet and also quite artificial.
At the end of the day, it looks like the colors of the two liqueurs differ more than the flavors. That’s why the taste and proof are more valuable as criteria than visual differences. Therefore, it’s best to use the Hiram Walker alternative only if you’re looking for orange aromas and flavors.
Grand Marnier Ingredients
However, in case you’re looking for an orange liqueur with hints of vanilla and honey, you can use Cointreau as a substitute for Grand Marnier in your Cosmopolitan or Crêpes Suzette.
Substitute 4: Combier Liqueur d’Orange
Combier is another orange liqueur that’s similar to Cointreau. It’s also produced relatively close to Cointreau in the Cognac region of France. The main difference between Combier and Cointreau is that Combier is a bit lighter, with more citrus-y tones, and less sweet than Cointreau. The lighter, more citrus-y tones make Combier work really well in cocktails like the perfect cosmopolitan. Combier also pairs well with orange juice, thanks to its rich orange flavor.
This recipe uses Combier as a Cointreau substitute, as a secret ingredient to add some depth to orange juices.
To use Combier as a Cointreau substitute for the perfect cosmopolitan, just follow the basic recipe below. Make sure that you’re using it in the right cocktail, or for a coctail that calls for grapefruit or orange juice, and you’ll be okay.
Like Cointreau and Curacao, Combier also has orange bitters, which is often used in cocktails but is also found in some food recipes or as an ingredient in marinades for meats, especially beef. Combier is also a fantastic choice for classic cocktails like the Caipirinha and the Cosmopolitan.
Substitute 5: Luxardo Triplum
If you want to highlight the flavor of Cointreau, but don’t have it around, the best substitute is probably Luxardo Triplum. Triplum is a sweet, Italian liqueur made from a blend of damascena rose petals, cardamom and natural flavors. It’s slightly more floral than Cointreau and less sweet, so it really highlights the flavors of the triple sec that’s in it.
I love using Triplum in holiday cocktails, especially with cranberries. It’s subtle and fruity and adds such a beautiful flavor to drinks. You really get a wonderful rich taste from a pour of triplum, so don’t skimp on it!
Substitute 1: Cointreau Orange Liqueur
If you’re looking for the quintessential Cointreau drink, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything more perfect than the Cosmopolitan. There isn’t a wrong way to enjoy it, but the most common method is to stir 75 mL of Cointreau, freshly squeezed lime and orange juices, and a dash of cranberry juice up with ice, then strain it all into a martini glass and garnish with a lime wedge.
Substitute 6: Orange Extract
Like Cointreau, extract of orange also has a prominent orange taste. This means you can use a small amount and avoid diluting the colored liqueur with water, which will result in a foul flavor. Add your usual amount and if you want, you can add a dash of dissolved sugar in the remaining amount of liqueur to add a sweet kick to the drink.
Kammann, which specializes in liqueurs and spirits, makes several types of orange extract. You can pick up a 4 oz bottle at a store or you can order online.
In Summary – Substituting Cointreau
Cordials showing up in many cocktail recipes have had a very long history. Cordials are spirits blended with fruit flavors, spices, and herbs. Some of the favorites have been the Cointreau, Grand Marnier, and Benedictine. They have been staples in a variety of classic cocktails for years. But these days, they’ve been ebced out by budget-minded bartenders. What can you do when your recipe calls for a more expensive cordial?
One thing to remember is that you can still get your cocktail on without having any cordial added and still be able to down your Cosmopolitan or Crêpe Suzette lickety split. If you don’t have any alternative available, you can use the following recipe to make a close semblance of your favorite cordial drink.
In the Las Vegas joint, Heart Attack Grill, some of their favorites include.
Cream Décor(tonic water, liqueur, and sour cream).
Coco Loco (Don Coco Loco tequila mixed with coconut milk, and lime juice).
Baghdad Fire (tequila and pepper hard liquor).
And who can forget about the famous Tiramisu Martini?