Cointreau is a top-quality French orange liqueur that every home bartender should stock! Here’s more about it and how to use it.
Looking at buying a bottle of Cointreau, or simply wondering what it is? This top-quality orange liqueur is a must in every home bartender’s stash. Not only is it the key ingredient in the Classic Margarita, it stars in a long list of classic and modern cocktails. Here’s more about it, what it tastes like, and how to use this citrusy French liqueur.
What is Cointreau?
Cointreau is a clear, orange-flavored liqueur with a lightly sweet, citrus perfume flavor. It is a type of triple sec liquor, which means “triple dry” in French. The first bottles were sold in 1885 after the recipe was perfected by Edouard Cointreau and his family business, Cointreau Distillery. The business was family owned until until 1990, when it merged with French company Rémy Martin to form Rémy Cointreau.
How do you say Cointreau? Say KWAN-troh.
What does Cointreau taste like?
Cointreau tastes balanced between bitter orange and sweet, with warm spices that add complexity on the finish. It has a fragrant aroma and a clean finish.
Are there any Cointreau substitutes? Look for the real thing if at all possible. If it’s not available, go for Grand Marnier (a French orange liqueur made with brandy), Triple Sec, Orange Curaçao, or any other type of orange liqueur.
Why we like it
Cointreau is a classic orange liqueur that’s part of the standard lexicon of cocktails, most importantly two classic sours, the Margarita and Sidecar. The clean, orange perfume flavor is second to none. It’s a must in any liquor collection!
How much does it cost?
Compared to other liquors, Cointreau is mid-priced. A 375 ml bottle costs around $20 to $25, and a 750 ml bottle costs around $30 to 35. Cointreau is typically used in small amounts, around 1 ounce per drink, so a bottle will last you quite a while.
Most popular Cointreau cocktails
You can drink Cointreau straight as a shot or an aperitif. It’s also included in many classic cocktails.
- Don’t want to follow a recipe? Drink it as a shot, or mix a bit into soda water as a make-shift spritzer. It’s also great with champagne or Prosecco.
- Want a cocktail? Try it in one of these popular Cointreau cocktails:
Cointreau also stars in the following drinks:
- Between the Sheets
- Corpse Reviver
- Long Island Iced Tea
- Mai Tai
- Margaritas: Beer Margarita, Blood Orange Margarita, Cadillac Margarita, Cranberry Margarita, Jalapeño Margarita, Mango Margarita, Mezcal Margarita, Peach Margarita, Pineapple Margarita, Pineapple Jalapeno Margarita, Pomegranate Margarita, Strawberry Margarita
- Martinis: Blood Orange Martini, Cranberry Martini, Mexican Martini, Pomegranate Martini, Watermelon Martini
- Rum & Cranberry Cocktail
- Sangria: Red Sangria, Strawberry Sangria
- Sidecars: Bourbon Sidecar or Vodka Sidecar
- Singapore Sling
- Vodka Sour
What’s in a Cosmopolitan cocktail? This vibrant pink drink features cranberry, lemon and Cointreau, and is perfect for celebrations of all kinds.
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) vodka or citron vodka*
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) 100% cranberry juice (do not use sweetened!)
- 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) Cointreau
- 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) lemon juice
- 1 lime wedge
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup (or simple syrup)**
- For the garnish: lime wheel (optional)***
- Place the vodka, cranberry juice, Cointreau, lemon juice, and syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake 15 seconds until cold. Strain the liquid into a martini glass.
- Squeeze with the lime wedge and serve, garnished with a lime wheel if desired.
*If you have it, use citron vodka for the most authentic Cosmo: in this case you can omit the lemon juice. In our tests we found it was just as tasty to use standard vodka with lemon juice, so you don’t have to buy another type of vodka.
- Category: Drink
- Method: Shaken
- Cuisine: Cocktails
More liquor guides
Wondering what orgeat is? Or Aperol or St Germain? We’ve got you! Here are a few more guides to liquor:
- Quick Guide to Chartreuse This pale green liqueur is worth adding to your collection…here’s why.
- Quick Guide to Absinthe This formerly banned liquor is now in good graces.
- Guide to Grenadine It’s mistaken as cherry, but this bright syrup has a secret.
- Quick Guide to Bourbon All you need to know about this American spirit.
- Guide to Grand Marnier This top shelf orange liqueur is absolutely worth writing home about.
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.