May 11, 2023 by Anna-Bet Stemmet
Hold onto your cocktail shakers, folks, because we’re about to explore the tantalizing world of triple sec, and triple sec substitutes! This clear, colorless liqueur is the secret ingredient in some of your favorite cocktails, and is often used in Margaritas, Cosmopolitans, and Sidecars. But what exactly is it? Read on to find out more!
What is triple sec made from?
Triple sec is made from the peels of both bitter and sweet oranges. These peels are steeped in alcohol and then distilled not once, not twice, but thrice! Hence the name “triple sec”. This triple distillation process is what gives the liqueur its smooth and refined taste.
Now, you may be thinking, “But if it’s made from oranges, doesn’t that make it sweet?” And the answer is yes, triple sec does have a sweet and citrusy flavor. But here’s where things get interesting – the term “sec” actually means “dry” in French! So, despite its sweet taste, triple sec has a dry quality to it.
Easy triple sec substitutions to try
Want to make a drink that calls for triple sec, but don’t have any in your liquor cabinet? No problem. There are a few easy substitutions for triple sec that you might not know about. Here are our 9 go-to triple sec alternatives:
1. Grand Marnier
Grand Marnier is our top triple sec substitution. An exquisite liqueur that originates from France and is renowned for its refined taste and fascinating history, Grand Marnier is an indulgent and sophisticated delicacy that is perfect for any occasion.
It features a combination of Cognac brandy, bitter orange essence, and just the right amount of sugar to create a harmonious blend that emits a pleasant and welcoming aroma with subtle hints of spice and vanilla. It is versatile and can be enjoyed neat or over ice, or can be incorporated into a variety of cocktails, including the Cadillac Margarita and El Presidente.
You might also like: 12 Cocktails with Orange Liqueur that Zest the Best
Cointreau liqueur also makes a great substitute for triple sec. The versatility of this well-known orange-flavored liqueur has made it popular around the globe since the mid-1800s. Bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts love the liqueur’s sweet and slightly bitter taste and its unmistakable aroma of oranges. It can be used to great effect in drinks like a Margarita, Sidecar, or Cosmopolitan.
DID YOU KNOW? Triple sec and Curaçao are types of orange liqueur that can be made by many different brands, while Cointreau and Grand Marnier are proprietary blends.
Hailing from the sunny island of Curaçao in the Caribbean, the vibrant blue Curaçao liqueur is another delightful substitute for triple sec. A blend of dried orange peels, spices, and sweeteners, this liqueur delivers a slightly tangy and bittersweet taste that is truly unique. It can be used in countless cocktails, including a Blue Hawaiian and Blue Lagoon, imparting a zesty citrus flavor and a striking hue that adds a touch of glamour to any drink.
4. Combier Liqueur d’Orange
Combier Liqueur d’Orange is a premium orange-flavored liqueur handcrafted in France using a secret blend of sweet and bitter orange peels. With its vibrant orange color and bold citrusy flavor, this tasty triple sec replacement features in a variety of French-inspired cocktails like the French Manhattan.
5. Maraschino Liqueur
Maraschino liqueur is like triple sec’s exotic cousin. With its unique flavor profile of sweet and nutty notes, it’s the perfect substitute to add some oomph to your cocktails and features in drinks like the Singapore Sling. Plus, its vibrant red color adds a pop of fun to any drink. It’s made from the Marasca cherry, which is grown only in Croatia, making it an intriguing triple sec substitute.
6. Orange extract
You can also replace triple sec with orange extract. This substitution is popular in low-calorie drinks like the Skinny Margarita and other keto cocktails. Made from pure orange oil, this ingredient provides a concentrated burst of citrus that can take your drink to the next level. Unlike triple sec, it’s also free from added sugars and alcohol, making it a good option for folks who are watching their dietary intake.
Grenadine is a sweet and fruity syrup that can be used as a delicious substitute for triple sec in your cocktails. Made from pomegranate juice and sugar, it adds a unique tangy sweetness to drinks like the Tequila Sunrise or the Shirley Temple. Its vibrant red color also makes it an excellent addition to visually stunning drinks. Unlike triple sec, grenadine is non-alcoholic, which means that it’s perfect for those who prefer not to include alcohol in their cocktails.
St-Germain is a floral and fruity liqueur that can add a unique and elegant twist to your cocktails as an alternative to triple sec. Made from elderflowers, it has a delicate yet complex flavor profile that pairs well with gin, vodka, and even tequila. Unlike triple sec, which can add sweetness and alcohol content to a drink, St-Germain brings a subtle sweetness with a touch of bitterness and a fresh floral aroma.
9. Orange juice
If you’re looking for a simple and readily available replacement for triple sec in your cocktails, orange juice is a great option. With its sweet and citrusy flavor, it can add the perfect amount of brightness and acidity to your drink. While it may not have the same alcohol content as triple sec, it’s a great way to add a fruity twist to mixed drinks and you can always adjust the sweetness to your liking by adding a little simple syrup or agave nectar.
More zest inspo: 22 Zesty Orange Juice Cocktails for Every Occasion and Season