Triple Sec can mean many things but it is generally accepted as the term given to dry orange-flavored liqueur.
That can mean Cointreau or simply a bottle of the French liqueur itself, though typically Cointreau creates a smoother, more potent taste.
As it is rarely drunk straight, it is more widely known as a key ingredient for cocktails such as Margaritas, Sidecars, Cosmopolitans, Mai Tais, and Long Island iced teas. If you have a bottle on your shelf, read on to find out how to use it.
In this guide, we will look at what qualifies as Triple Sec, detail ten of the best cocktails using Triple Sec, and feature a bonus section for the undisputed classics.
What Is Triple Sec?
Triple Sec is an orange-flavored liqueur from France which has been used in cocktails as far back as 1875. The name relates to triple dry as the liqueur is made from the dried peels of bitter and sweet oranges.
You can enjoy Triple Sec on its own straight but it is mainly used as a superb mixer for creating complexly flavored cocktails. From the citrus tang in a Cosmopolitan and that hint of orange that completes a Margarita.
Ten Of The Best Cocktails Using Triple Sec
- Long Island Iced Tea
- Between The Sheets
- White Lady
- Apple Cart
- Cadaver Reviver
- Fire & Brimstone
- Man O’ War
- Velvet Hammer
Yes, a Long Island Iced Tea can involve Triple Sec and it makes a delectable difference.
Several ingredients go into making one so fill a bowl with ice and add half a cup each of tequila, white rum, vodka, Triple Sec, gin, with three-quarters a cup of simple syrup and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Leave to chill, then strain it all into a pitcher and add one and half cups of cola before pouring into highball glasses with ice.
Cocktails can be served en masse such as this Red Wine Sangria that you can create to serve a group of people at a summer party. Add slices of an orange and lemon to a pitcher with the juice of a freshly squeezed orange.
Add a quarter cup of granulated sugar and mash until the sugar is dissolved then add Triple Sec, and a bottle of inexpensive red wine. Refrigerate until cool then add a drizzle of Cognac before serving over ice.
Yes, this cocktail should sound risqué yet it is easily prepared. Fill a cocktail shaker with enough ice and add one ounce each of white rum, Cognac, and Triple Sec to three quarters of an ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Shake until well chilled and then strain slowly into a chilled cocktail glass then garnish with some lemon peel. With those three alcoholic ingredients, this can be a potent cocktail so you may want to ease yourself in.
4. White Lady
For a sour, sophisticated cocktail, try a White Lady which makes great use of an egg white. Dry shake two parts gin with one part Triple Sec, one part freshly squeezed lemon juice, and an egg white.
Add ice to the cocktail shaker and you should have a foamy top when you strain it into a martini glass. Serve with a lemon twist for that extra touch.
5. Apple Cart
For this Apple Cart, you can have a sugar rim or simply float in a dehydrated slice of apple as a garnish for that extra touch.
Shake together 45ml Calvados, 30ml Triple Sec, 20ml freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 10ml of apple Schnapps in a cocktail shaker with ice. Once chilled, strain into your prepared and chilled Coupe glass.
This particular cocktail should wake anyone up due to its use of tequila and absinthe.
In a cocktail shaker half filled with ice, combine 22.5 ml each of Blanco tequila, Triple Sec, and aromatized wine to 15ml of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a couple of dashes of absinthe.
Shake vigorously and strain into your chilled glass with a twist of lime zest for a garnish.
Yes, Fire & Brimstone does sound a little chilling yet it makes for an exciting cocktail and a riff on a Mezcal Margarita.
Muddle two slices of Fresno chili in a cocktail shaker then add ice, 45ml Del Maguey VIDA mezcal, 15 ml Triple Sec, 20ml freshly squeezed lemon juice, two dashes of orange bitters and 7.5ml of agave syrup. Finely strain into one glass full of ice and take your time with it.
8. Man O’ War
You will need a lemon and some maraschino cherries as a garnish for this delicious cocktail.
Fill your cocktail shaker with ice and throw in three parts Bourbon whiskey with one part each of Triple Sec, sweet red vermouth, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Add a dash of 2:1 sugar syrup then fine strain into your chilled glass and serve with a twist of zest from a lemon and a maraschino cherry.
As a vodka martini, a Kamikaze can really be blown up with a Triple Sec. Fill a cocktail shaker with enough ice and pour in three parts vodka to two parts Triple Sec and just squeezed lime juice.
Shake it up and then strain into your chilled martini glass and garnish with one wedge of lime.
10. Velvet Hammer
Smooth, sweet, and creamy, you really should try this Velvet Hammer if you are a big fan of White Russians.
Half-fill your cocktail shaker with ice and then add equal parts Cognac, dark crème de cacao, Tia Maria, and Triple Sec with two parts heavy cream. Shake and strain into your rocks glass and you could even sip it through a straw.
Bonus: The Classics
You may be surprised to learn how many classic cocktails use Triple Sec, so much so that you feel obliged to get a bottle. From the sophisticated Cosmopolitan to the sharp Margarita, and the sour Sidecar.
Each cocktail has stood the test of time and continues to use Triple Sec for that delectable orange taste.
The Cosmopolitan is a classic cocktail, not just for its use of Triple Sec but its bright color.
Fill your cocktail shaker with ice and pour in a quarter cup of vodka with a tablespoon of Triple Sec, a tablespoon and one and a half teaspoons of cranberry juice, and three teaspoons of just squeezed lime juice.
Shake vigorously and then strain slowly into a chilled cocktail glass and use an orange twist for a garnish. Enjoy over a great view to give you the sense of being Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City.
The Margarita is the perfect balance of three ingredients for a sharp yet refreshing cocktail. Put the Margarita mix away and run a wedge of lime over the entire rim of your glass and dip it in some salt.
In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, add equal parts Blanco tequila, Triple Sec, and just squeezed lime juice. Grip the cocktail shaker and shake until cold then strain carefully into the glass and use another lime wedge for a garnish.
A descendant of the Crusta cocktail, this sour is best made with an exceptional Cognac such as a VSOP.
Half fill a cocktail shaker with cubes of ice and add two ounces of VSOP and a quarter-ounce of simple syrup to three quarters of an ounce each of Triple Sec, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Shake until cold and strain into your chilled cocktail glass. A lemon twist is an excellent garnish too.
Though a bottle of Triple Sec itself may be tricky to find, it should be far easier to find one of Cointreau and you may even prefer the taste.
For a liqueur that is rarely drunk neat, you should still find yourself getting through a bottle if you enjoy cocktails. Whether it is Cointreau or Triple Sec, it should be 15% to 40% alcohol by volume and have a thick, almost syrupy consistency.
The bottle does not need to be refrigerated or frozen though it is best served in a cocktail made with a lot of ice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Cointreau A Triple Sec?
Yes, Cointreau is known as a type of Triple Sec as it is a dry orange liqueur. Cointreau typically has a stronger and more complex flavor than most Triple Secs.
The term Triple Sec is given for the category of liqueurs as well as one brand and refers to those that are considered inexpensive and a lower quality orange liqueur than Cointreau.
Do I Need To Refrigerate Triple Sec?
There is no need to refrigerate Triple Sec, as you might put vodka in the freezer. The dry orange liqueur should be kept closed as oxidation can change the taste of Triple Sec once the oxygen reacts with certain alcohol compounds.