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14 Cocktails with Orange Liqueur That Zest the Best

August 09, 2022 by Anna-Bet Stemmet

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Orange liqueur cocktails are back, baby! TBH, we’re not too surprised to see it surface as a trend right now – fashion is cyclical, after all! So, if the idea of a liqueur-based cocktail seems a little old school, we’re here to tell you that it has now officially gone around ye olde bend to become shiny and new again. Time to cash in on this season’s hottest reclaimed property, bestie!  

See, liqueurs like Grand Marnier are easy to find and effortless to use. This popular cognac-based orange liqueur is known for its high-proof and punchy flavors and comes to the party with delightful notes of orange zest, vanilla bean, and burnt orange that create a structured and concentrated palate. To get you excited about this zesty trend, here are 14 of our favorite drinks made with orange liqueur that are easy enough to shake up at home:  

1. Sidecar

Top view of a Sidecar cocktail garnished with fresh orange peel

Combining Cognac, orange liqueur, and fresh lemon juice, the Sidecar is so iconic it’s actually named one of the six basic cocktails in a called Cocktail Codex: Fundamentals, Formulas, Evolutions (A Cocktail Recipe Book). In fact, it is said that this elementary drink eventually inspired a variety of other classic cocktails, such as the Cosmopolitan and the Margarita in all their various forms. 

Learn more: What are the 6 Basic Cocktails?

2. Cosmopolitan

Front view of the best refreshing Cosmopolitan cocktails

The classic Cosmopolitan is one of those evergreen drinks that can be enjoyed as aperitif cocktails, served as the best after-dinner cocktails, and everything in between. Featuring citrus-infused vodka, orange liqueur, lime and cranberry juice, and an orange peel to garnish, it is one of the most popular cocktails from the 60s that remains just as beloved all around the globe today.  

3. Grand Margarita

Cadillac Margarita Cocktail

Using top-shelf Blanco tequila and Grand Marnier liqueur for an extra dash of sophistication and style, the Grand Margarita is gorgeously nuanced and très elegant, darling. It makes a wonderful happy hour or dinner party drink and pairs well with fancy eats like oysters and fresh prawns.

4. Mai Tai

Refreshing boozy Mai Tai cocktail on the rocks with cherry and pineapple garnish

The classy Mai Tai is the cocktail version of a fresh-faced island girl who walks toward you in a summer dress on a fresh morning at the beach, leaving sandy footsteps and the heady smell of orange blossoms in her wake. It’s one of the best fruity cocktails to serve in summer, with a strong rum kick and a powerful tartness, rounded off by a mild sweetness and citrus zing. 

You might also like: The 10 Most Popular Cocktails in the World (2024)

5. Long Island Iced Tea

Front image of three homemade Long Island Ice Tea Cocktails with Lemon garnish

If you are keen to try orange liqueur cocktails with quite a sizeable kick, we highly recommend the Long Island Iced Tea. Combining equal measures of vodka, white rum, tequila, gin, orange liqueur, simple syrup, and freshly squeezed lemon juice with a splash of soda for effervescence, it is a strong, tasty drink that has endured the test of time. 

6. Grand Mimosa

Mimosa Cocktail

The classic Mimosa is everybody’s brunchtime darling, but if you really want to push out the boat, it might be time to try the Grand Mimosa cocktail. It’s very easy to make and just as effortless to enjoy.  Simply add ½ oz Grand Marnier to a Champagne flute, top it off with enough Champagne to fill the glass ⅔ full, and then add orange juice until you reach the top. Freshly squeezed orange juice has the best zing, but we prefer a fine-mesh strainer to ensure that none of the ‘bits’ stay behind. 

7. Pomegranate Martini

Pomegranate Martini

The Pomegranate Martini is one of those drinks made with orange liqueur that looks super impressive but is nevertheless a cinch to pour, even for a beginner. Sweetly tart, fruity, and light, it’s easy to whip up (even in batches) and adds a hint of fruity glamor to just about any gathering. 

8. White Lady

Two White Lady Christmas gin cocktails with lemon garnish

The spookily enchanting White Lady cocktail is a classic mixed drink made with gin, Grand Marnier, fresh lemon juice, and an optional egg white. Frothy and delicate, it makes for a lovely after-dinner drink when the meal has been quite heavy, and something refined is called for. 

9. Lemon Drop Martini

Lemon Drop Martini

Named after a sweet citrus candy that was super popular in the 1970s, the Lemon Drop Martini is a fabulously festive serve that combines SKYY Infusions® Citrus Vodka, Grand Marnier, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Add a sugar rim for an extra sweet finish.

10. Pegu Club

A transluscent Pegu Club cocktail on a pewter serving platter along with a scored lime, against a dark backdrop

Delightfully boozy, yet sophisticated, the Pegu Club is a 1920s sipper with a gorgeously herbal finish. To make it, add 2 oz Bulldog Gin, 1 oz Grand Marnier, 0.5 oz lime juice, and two dashes of orange bitters to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until ice cold, strain into a serving glass, garnish with an optional lime wedge, and serve.

11. El Presidente

El Presidente Cocktail against a dark background featuring a fresh orange twist

As its name suggests, the El Presidente Rum Cocktail was first stirred up in honor of a statesman, likely José Miguel Gómez who was the leader of Cuba between 1909 and 1913. This slow sipper is beautifully sweet with a subtle bitter note, laced with a zappy zing of citrus.

12. Blood Orange Vodka Cocktail

Blood Orange vodka cocktails with mint in tumblers

During the winter, dramatic deep crimson blood oranges are in season, so making a Blood Orange Vodka cocktail should be at the top of your list. Tangy cocktails with blood orange juice feel like a first-class upgrade from classic OJ with all the added sweetness that blood oranges bring. They are sweeter than regular oranges, adding another flavor dimension, while the bold color makes for pretty drinks. Get muddling with this quick and easy recipe that will wow your dinner party guests.

Read next: Best After-Dinner Drinks to Delight Your Guests

13. Test Pilot

Two Test Pilot cocktails on a table on a verandea outside in daytime on a sunny day

This magnificently complex and multilayered drink will speak to cocktail lovers who adore a drink with a soft entry, followed by a big mouthful of flavor. To make a Test Pilot cocktail, add 1.5 oz dark rum, 0.75 oz light rum, 0.5 oz orange liqueur, 0.5 oz fresh lime juice, 0.5 oz falernum, a dash of bitters, and five drops of anise liqueur to a blender with a cup of ice. Blend until the ice is crushed, but not smooth. Pour into a rocks glass, and add more crushed ice to fill if required.

14. Vodka Sidecar

Two Vodka Sidecar cocktails on a table in a modern lounge in daytime

The Vodka Sidecar is a zesty twist on the traditional Sidecar cocktail and uses vodka instead of brandy or Cognac. Grand Marnier orange liqueur, fresh lemon juice, and a sugared rim join the party to create a refreshing and zingy cocktail that’s perfect for warmer evenings. A great cocktail for sweet and sour fans.

There you have it – 14 amazing orange liqueur cocktails to try at home. Happy shaking and stirring zesty trendsetters! Remember to tag us on Instagram when you share images of your beautiful cocktails, and sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know when the freshest inspo articles drop. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Orange liqueur is a sweetened distilled spirit that is flavored with oranges. The production methods used vary by brand and style.

It depends from one brand to the next. Grand Marnier, for instance, is a sophisticated blend of cognac (51%) and exotic bitter orange peels (49%). This time-honored French liqueur falls in the category of triple sec, and features brandy made from Ugni Blanc grapes from five Cognac crus, that is then double-distilled in copper stills. This is combined with Citrus Bigaradia orange peels to create a liqueur that is second to none.

Orange liqueurs like Grand Marnier have a very distinct taste of oranges. These liqueurs tend to be quite sweet and syrupy, although some can have a drier mouthfeel.

Orange liqueur is mostly used in classic cocktails like the Sidecar, Cosmopolitan, and Mai Tai, However, high-quality brands like Grand Marnier can also be enjoyed neat. It is also often used in cooking, especially in dishes that are flambéed.

Some of the most popular cocktails made using orange liqueur include the Sidecar, Cosmopolitan, Cadillac Margarita, Mai Tai, Long Island Iced Tea, Grand Mimosa, Pomegranate Martini, and White Lady.

Triple sec is a category that encompasses any clear, dry, orange-flavored liqueur. As such, liqueurs like Grand Marnier, which is made in the curaçao tradition, can be substituted for triple sec in most recipes, but it's not technically the same thing.

While some orange liqueurs can be substituted for one another in cocktails, they have different flavor profiles that can alter the taste of the drink. Grand Marnier, for instance, is a premium orange liqueur made from a blend of cognac, bitter oranges, and sugar. It has a complex flavor profile with notes of orange, vanilla, and oak, and a higher alcohol content than triple sec. It is often used in classic cocktails like the Margarita and the French Connection.

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