The Insider’s Guide to Triple Sec

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What is triple sec?

Everyone has that ingredient in their kitchen that they only know how to use in one recipe or one drink. In the cocktail world, many us of have triple sec or know it’s an important, versatile liqueur to own, but how many of us can articulate what it actually is?

We’ve outlined everything you need to know about triple sec, from its flavor profile to its birthplace:

  • What it is: Triple sec, meaning triple distilled, is a strong, sweet, and colorless orange-flavored liqueur. It is made from the dried peel of oranges found on Curacao, an island in the Caribbean. The most popular brands are Cointreau and Grand Marnier, although the two are slightly different – Cointreau is a triple sec in the classic sense, whereas Grand Marnier is blended with cognac and has a darker color.
  • Origins: Jean-Baptiste Combier invented triple sec in Saumur, France in 1834. It was created by steeping sun-dried orange peels native to Haiti in alcohol for 24 hours before distilling the mixture in copper pots.
  • History of the name: Triple sec comes from the French word, sec, which usually means “dry.” But, when it comes to the liqueur, the word actually means “distilled.”
  • Substitutes: If you run out of triple sec, your best bet is to replicate the taste of bitter orange peel and cognac. Try mixing orange syrup or orange zest with brandy or cognac.
  • Mix it in: Margarita, Long Island Iced Tea, Sidecar, and Cosmopolitan

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