This is a matter of hot debate! The question is so complex that it deserves to be explored further… although one thing is for sure: as an orange liqueur with quality & production requirements, Cointreau is more than a triple sec2. Why? Simply because a triple sec is the generic name used for any orange-flavored spirit, while an “orange liqueur,” like Cointreau, actually goes a step further: as an officially recognized spirit category, there are certain legal production that need to be fulfilled and quality requirements to be considered a liqueur2. By using Cointreau L’Unique in your cocktails rather than just a triple sec, you add the guarantee of the exceptional richness of 40+ aromas, quality sweet and bitter orange peels from the world’s finest terroirs, and 170 years+ of know-how—all resulting in a perfectly balanced cocktail. Thanks to an age-old expertise as Liquorist-Distiller, unique organoleptic qualities, and the Art of Cointreau (Art of Selection, Art of Harmony and Art of Distillation), Cointreau is an orange liqueur in a league of its own.
Is Cointreau a Triple Sec ?
Cointreau is more than a triple sec, it's an orange liqueur in a league of its own.
OUR EXPERTS HAVE THE ANSWER !
What is a triple sec?
Used in countless cocktails recipes, triple sec is a generic term for any orange-flavored spirit without any regulations around quality or production method. Since there is no worldwide official legal definition, nor specific quality requirements that must be met to carry the triple sec name, there can be significant differences between one triple sec and another in regards to quality1.
Why is it call triple sec?
As there is no official legal definition, nor specific recipe or requirements to meet to carry this name1, we certainly couldn’t answer for every triple sec: there are too many different sorts. Where we’re concerned, it’s the vision of our creator: In 1885 when Édouard Cointreau succeeds in creating what he had imagined—a crystalline liqueur with the ideal balance, and the result of a blend of dried and fresh sweet and bitter orange peels—he created a liquor that was three times more concentrated in flavor and less sweet than the liqueurs of the time.
Did you know: when Édouard Cointreau created his liqueur in 1885, it was trademarked under the name "Cointreau Triple Sec", a term abandoned over time as Cointreau falls within the officially recognized category of liqueur spirits due to its quality indicators and manufacturing processes2.
What is the difference between an orange liqueur and a triple sec?
There are many triple secs. but only one Cointreau l'unique. And as a liqueur, Cointreau is more than a triple sec1. A liqueur is an officially recognized spirit category with quality indicators around the spirit’s components and method of production2. On the other hand, triple sec is a generic term for any orange-flavored spirit, with no specific rules around the method of production or quality criteria1. Since there is no official legal definition, nor specific quality requirements that must be met to carry this name, there can be significant differences between one triple sec and another1.
Can I use Cointreau liqueur in recipes that call for a triple sec?
For perfectly balanced cocktails? Yes! And it would contribute to the quality of your cocktail! Why is that? Simply because Cointreau L’Unique is an orange liqueur with the perfect organoleptic balance. And as a liqueur, Cointreau is more than a triple sec. A triple sec is a generic name used for any orange-flavored spirit, with no official legal definition nor specific quality requirements1, while a liqueur, like Cointreau, actually goes a step further as there are certain legal production and quality requirements to fall into this category2. The consequences? There are significant differences between one triple sec and another, which can translate into your cocktails (taste, freshness, sweetness, balance, etc,). By using Cointreau L’Unique in your cocktails rather than just a triple sec, you add the guarantee of the exceptional richness of 40+ aromas, quality sweet and bitter orange peels from the world’s finest terroirs, and 170 years+ of know-how. And the result is a perfectly balanced cocktail. As an orange liqueur with the perfect balance, Cointreau L’Unique guarantees a quality that comes from the rigorous creation process, which is entrusted to our Master Distiller Carole Quinton. Cointreau is a liqueur in a league of its own.
How does Cointreau L’Unique differ from a triple sec?
Created by Édouard Cointreau in 1885, it is a product of the House’s age-old savoir-faire, which has been passed down through generations of liquorists and distillers in the Cointreau family. This translates into what we call “the art of Cointreau,” or the sensorial dance that goes into making our signature orange liqueur, from orange peel selection to blending to distillation. Cointreau also implements a system of analyses at every stage of the process to ensure organoleptic excellence, from the selection of quality orange peels from around the globe to quality tests with a tasting committee of 40-50 people. there are many triple secs, but only one Cointreau l'unique.
Is today’s recipe the same as Édouard Cointreau’s original?
In 1870, Édouard Cointreau, son of Édouard-Jean, joined the family business. He had tasted several Dutch curaçaos and found them unrefined and overly sweet. He took over the helm of his family's entrepreneurial adventure, who was then specialized in candied fruits (strawberries, plums, cherries, etc.) and refined its focus on the orange, a fruit he felt held great potential. Inspired by the richness of this sun-drenched fruit, Édouard Cointreau traveled the world in search of the best varieties to enhance his liqueur. He quickly began distillation tests and would go on to create our future Cointreau liqueur in 1885.
Our goal is to maintain the exceptional organoleptic properties of Édouard’s original recipe. Today, Master Distiller Carole Quinton is the guardian of Cointreau’s precious orange-flavored liqueur. A feat of balance, authenticity, and olfactory richness, the recipe she holds has been both preserved and reinvented since Édouard created it in 1885.
Is Édouard Cointreau the creator of triple sec?
The Cointreau family recipe books show that the first orange liqueur explorations took place in 1857, before Édouard Cointreau joined the business. However, in order to guarantee without a shadow of a doubt the real date of the creation of the “Cointreau Triple Sec”, we rely on an unequivocal legal document: the registration of the Cointreau Triple Sec” trademark in 1885.
The question is less who invented the triple sec and more who produces one of the best orange liqueurs.
Discover more about Cointreau savoir-faire
1. Except in the USA where it is considered as an orange liqueur. 2.EU regulation 787/219 Ingredients (fresh/dried orange peels from sweet/ bitter oranges, neutral alcohol, water, sugar), method of production (maceration, infusion and distillation of fruits or plants), and predetermine qualitative indicators (alcohol degree between 15% to 55%, sugar levels with at least 100 grams of sugar per liter, etc)