Triple Sec for Bartenders

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Triple Sec for Bartenders

Triple Sec for Bartenders

This fragrant orange-flavoured liqueur is an indispensable element in most popular cocktails. Ranging from clear to amber in hue, it is made from dried sweet and bitter orange peel. It can be enjoyed as a refreshing aperitif or indulgent digestif; on the rocks or straight. In fact, so ubiquitous is delicious triple sec that it’s one of the most important liqueurs for all bartenders to know.


The first triple sec experiments took place between the years 1834 and 1848 by Jean Baptiste Combier in France. These experiments sought to unify the sweet and sour qualities of citrus with the headiness of hard liquor. In 1875, however, Cointreau was invented. This delicious liqueur quickly became popular and consolidated triple sec as one of France’s favourite alcoholic treats.


This concoction arrived on the scene through the efforts of the brothers Cointreau. Adolphe Cointreau was a trained confectioner, and it was his vital skills that created the right balance bitter and sweet orange peel. The first Cointreau sample consisted of the peel fermented with pure alcohol from the sugar beet.

To this day, the brothers’ method of creating the drink is a closely-guarded family secret. However, the Cointreau Empire has grown to such an extent that its ingredients come from all over the world. The signature bitter orange peel comes from countries including Brazil, Spain, Ghana and Haiti. Its popularity is evident in its sales figures – over 13 million cases are sold per year, to 150 countries.

How to Enjoy Cointreau

Cointreau works wonderfully in a variety of cocktails. These days, a Cosmopolitan, Margarita and White Lady are unimaginable without that ever-important splash of triple sec. It’s also possible to enjoy as an appetizing aperitif.

An aperitif is traditionally served before the meal. It should be light and dry – just the thing to get mouths watering for the meal to come. Cointreau works particularly well with fresh lime juice and soda water – a bubbly, sweet/sour aperitif that is perfect for summer dinner parties.

It is similarly delicious as a digestif – typically served after a meal. Here, pour the Cointreau neat or on the rocks. It is sweet enough to function well as a dessert liqueur, and can be enjoyed in the same manner as brandy, grappa and herbal liqueurs

Triple Sec Cocktails

Here are some essential cocktails that make use of triple sec. The first on the list has to be the Cosmopolitan, with its timeless sweet, sour and strong flavours. Mix three parts citrus vodka with 2 parts cranberry juice and one part triple sec. Then, add a splash of fresh lime juice and enjoy in a martini glass.

Another popular triple sec cocktail is the Mexican margarita – the traditional version, of course! Here, partner 60ml of tequila with 30ml of triple sec, and shake with 30ml of fresh lime juice. However, triple sec works just as well in the non-traditional frozen margarita versions.

However, the ultimate blend of triple sec (in this case, only Cointreau will do) is the Sidecar. This is the quintessential French cocktail, mixing Cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice. Grab a mixer, fill it with ice, and add 30mls of each of the ingredients. Shake well, and pour in a sophisticated martini glass.

Triple sec is responsible for providing that unforgettable sweet/sour element in most cocktails and dessert drinks. As a bartender, you should always keep it on standby – you’ll be surprised how often you’ll have to use it!