Skip to main content

Orange liqueur is a staple in many cocktail recipes, but there are many different types of orange liqueurs.

So, are they all the same?

Can you substitute one for another?

In this article, you will learn what Triple Sec, Cointreau, Grand Marnier and Curaçao are and how to use them.

Orange liqueurs distilled

Triple sec is an orange-flavoured liqueur made using orange peel. Cointreau is a brand of triple sec. So, if you’ve be wondering if triple sec is the same as Cointreau, the answer is, essentially, yes.

Grand Marnier is a liqueur made from a mixture of cognac and orange liqueur. Curaçao is an orange liqueur made with orange peel, herbs and spices.


Triple sec

Triple sec is an orange-flavored liqueur that originated in France. The origin of the name triple sec is unclear. Some claim it comes from a triple distillation process used to create the liqueur, but others say that a triple distillation is not used.

The term may also be a translation of the French sec, which can mean both distilled and dry (you may recognise the term sec from sparkling wine).

It isn’t usually consumed neat, but it is an important ingredient in many cocktails, such as cosmopolitans, Long Island iced teas, margaritas, mai tais and sidecars.

It is 20–40% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Triple Sec liqueur


Cointreau is an orange-flavoured liqueur produced in France. It was created in 1875 by brothers Adolphe and Edouard-Jean Cointreau.

Drink it as an apéritif or digestif. It can be drank neat or on ice, but is also often used in cocktails.  It was originally called Curaçao Blanco Triple Sec. Cointreau is colourless.

Cointreau is 40% ABV.



It is not known who developed the first Curaçao liqueur or when. Curaçao is a liqueur flavored with the dried peel of the bitter orange laraha, a citrus fruit grown on the Dutch island of Curaçao.

There are many different types of Curaçao, but the most popular are the orange-colored dry Curaçao and blue Curaçao (which is colored blue).

Bols is one of the most famous brands of Curaçao. Lucas Bols was a major shareholder in the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century. It brought exotic herbs, spices and fruits back to Amsterdam, and these were used to create new liqueurs, including Curaçao.

Grand Marnier

Grand Marnier is a blend of cognac and orange liqueur. It was created in 1880 at Château de Bourg-Charente in France by Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle.

The bottle shape was inspired by the silhouette of a traditional cognac still and designed by the crystal specialists at Baccarat, the finest makers of crystal glassware in France. Grand Marnier bottles also feature a wax seal and red ribbon.

Grand Marnier is 40% ABV.

You can substitute Grand Marnier for cocktails with triple sec and Cognac using a 1:1 ratio.

Grand Marnier

Read with confidence: I am WSET L2 Award in Spirits & Diagio Bar Academy certified.