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Liqueur Lowdown



Liqueur Lowdown is a series that gives you the lowdown on different types of popular liqueurs  – what they are, how they taste and how to use them in cocktails or otherwise! Liqueurs are a form of sweetened liquor that you can use to add flavor to your cocktails, or simply drink neat for a pre- and post-meal treat!


Brand: Cointreau

Company: Remy Cointreau

ABV: 40% ABV

Flavour Classification: Citrus

Base Spirit: Neutral Sugar Beet Alcohol

Country of Origin: France

What Is Cointreau? How Does Cointreau Taste?

Cointreau is an orange liqueur that is made with a mix of bitter and sweet orange peels infused with sugar beet alcohol. Cointreau is an indispensable part of many of your classic cocktails, bringing a bright, crisp, citrus notes with light warming spices to the drink. Higher-proof than most of your classic liqueurs, expect some dryness with concentrated orange flavor hit.

How Is Cointreau Created?

Cointreau sources bitter and sweet orange peels from Brazil, Africa and Spain, which are brought to France to undergo distillation. Bitter oranges bring a zesty lime note, while the sweet oranges lend a fresh mandarin aroma. The orange peels are dried in the sun for three to five days til they reach a moisture content of 11%. They are then macerated in neutral sugar beet alcohol overnight before being distilled twice.

Fun Fact

The Cointreau brothers, who invented Cointreau, initially established the Cointreau Distillery in 1849, where they began distilling a cherry liqueur, called Guignolet. It was only 8 years later they made their first orange liqueur, Cointreau, whose popularity quickly surpassed the Guignolet.

Other Variations / Substitutes?

Cointreau is kind of an indispensable part of any bar cart. It’s essential to many classic cocktail recipes, so spring for the original if you can. In a pinch, you can substitute it for other type of orange liqueurs (called triple sec) such as Grand Marnier or Curacao. 

How To Use Cointreau? 

If you have a bottle of Cointreau at home, you’re all set to creating many of the staple cocktail recipes we know and love today. The International Bartender Association (IBA) incorporates Cointreau as an ingredient in the following classic cocktails:    

  • Classic Cosmopolitan: Add 50 ml Vodka Citron, 15 ml Cointreau, 15 ml fresh lime juice, and 30 ml cranberry juice into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chill cocktail glass.
  • Classic Sidecar: Add 50 ml Cognac, 20 ml Cointreau, and 20 ml fresh lime juice into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chill cocktail glass.
  • Classic Margarita: Add 50 ml tequila, 20 ml Cointreau, and 15 ml fresh lime juice into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chill cocktail glass with a salt rim.