What Kind of Liquor is Cointreau?

For more than a century, people have sipped on Cointreau, a French liqueur.


It is a variety of triple sec prepared from a combination of sugar, sweet, and bitter orange peels. Edouard Cointreau first introduced the beverage in 1875, and since then it has become a standard in many pubs and homes all over the world.

The brand is currently owned by Rémy Cointreau, a French company that specializes in producing and distributing high-end spirits. Adolphe Cointreau, Edouard-Jean Cointreau, and Edouard Cointreau were the founders of the company.

The recipe for Cointreau has remained unchanged since its inception, and it is still made in Saint-Barthélemy-d’Anjou, France, where the company’s headquarters are located.

Cointreau is a versatile drink that can be enjoyed on its own or used as a key ingredient in many cocktails. Its unique taste and aroma make it a popular choice for those who enjoy citrus-flavored drinks. The history of Cointreau is rich, and its popularity has only grown over the years.

What Is Cointreau

Cointreau is a type of liqueur that is produced in Saint-Barthélemy-d’Anjou, France.

bottle of cointreau with a cocktail vs triple sec

It is a colorless, strong, and sweet orange-flavored liqueur that is classified as a triple sec. Triple sec is a type of orange liqueur that is made by combining sweet and bitter orange peels with alcohol and sugar.

Cointreau is made from a blend of sweet and bitter orange peels, which gives it a unique flavor profile. The sweet orange peels provide a fruity and sweet flavor, while the bitter orange peels add a slightly bitter and tart taste to the liqueur. The orange peels are macerated in alcohol and then distilled to create a clear and colorless liquid.

Cointreau is made from sugar beets and has an alcohol content of 80 proof or 40% ABV. It is commonly used as an apéritif and digestif, which are alcoholic beverages consumed before or after meals. Cointreau is also a popular ingredient in many cocktails, such as the margarita, sidecar, and cosmopolitan.

Origins of Cointreau

Cointreau is a well-known orange-flavored triple sec liqueur that is widely used in cocktails.

bottle of triple sec brand cointreau in a bucket of ice

The liqueur is produced in Saint-Barthélemy-d’Anjou, France, by the Cointreau family, who have been in the business of liqueur-making since 1849. The recipe for Cointreau was first developed by Adolphe Cointreau, who was a confectioner and distiller in Angers, France.

The Cointreau family initially produced a cherry liqueur called Guignolet, which was very popular in the region. However, Adolphe Cointreau wanted to create a new liqueur that would appeal to a wider audience. He experimented with various recipes and eventually came up with the recipe for Cointreau.

Cointreau was first released in 1875, and it quickly became popular in France and around the world. The liqueur was marketed as an apéritif and digestif, and it was also used in cocktails. Cointreau was particularly popular in the United States, where it was used in cocktails such as the Margarita and the Cosmopolitan.

In 1912, the Cointreau family sold the brand to the Rémy Martin company, which is still the owner of the brand today. Despite changing hands, the recipe for Cointreau has remained the same, and the liqueur is still produced in Saint-Barthélemy-d’Anjou, France.

Cointreau in Mixology

Cointreau is a versatile ingredient in mixology and is used in a variety of cocktails. It is a type of triple sec, which is a strong, sweet, and colorless orange-flavored liqueur produced in Saint-Barthélemy-d’Anjou, France.

cointreau bottles with cointreau cocktail in martini glass

Bartenders and mixologists use Cointreau in many classic and modern cocktail recipes, including the margarita, cosmopolitan, sidecar, mai tai, and long island iced tea. It is also used as an apéritif and digestif, consumed before or after meals.

When mixing cocktails with Cointreau, it is important to remember that it has a strong, intense orange flavor. It is often used as a stabilizer in the bar’s citrus solution, mixed with acid, cane syrup, and water, and used for the bar’s forced carbonated draft cocktails such as the Sparkling Cosmopolitan.

Here are some popular cocktails that use Cointreau:

  • Margarita: Cointreau is a key ingredient in the margarita, which is a classic tequila-based cocktail. It is mixed with tequila, lime juice, and often served on the rocks with a salt rim.
  • Cosmopolitan: The cosmopolitan is a modern classic cocktail that uses Cointreau, vodka, cranberry juice, and lime juice. It is often served in a martini glass with a twist of lemon.
  • Sidecar: The sidecar is a classic cocktail that uses Cointreau, cognac, and lemon juice. It is often served in a sugar-rimmed glass.
  • Mai Tai: The mai tai is a tropical cocktail that uses Cointreau, rum, lime juice, and orgeat syrup. It is often served in a tiki glass with a garnish of mint and a slice of pineapple.
  • Long Island Iced Tea: The long island iced tea is a potent cocktail that uses Cointreau, vodka, gin, rum, tequila, and cola. It is often served in a tall glass with a lemon wedge.

Cointreau as a Digestif and Aperitif

Cointreau is a versatile liquor that can be enjoyed as both a digestif and an aperitif.


A digestif is typically consumed after a meal to aid in digestion, while an aperitif is consumed before a meal to stimulate the appetite. Cointreau can be enjoyed in both contexts due to its unique flavor profile.

As a digestif, Cointreau is typically served neat or on the rocks. Its sweet and citrusy flavor helps to cleanse the palate and aid in digestion after a meal. Cointreau is also a common ingredient in many after-dinner cocktails, such as the Sidecar and the Margarita.

As an aperitif, Cointreau can be enjoyed on its own or mixed with other spirits and mixers. Its sweet and bitter flavor profile makes it a great addition to many classic cocktails, such as the Cosmopolitan and the White Lady. Cointreau can also be used to add depth and complexity to non-alcoholic cocktails and mocktails.

Cointreau is often compared to other orange liqueurs, such as triple sec and curaçao. However, Cointreau is unique in that it is made from a blend of sweet and bitter orange peels, giving it a more complex flavor profile than other orange liqueurs. It is also less sweet than triple sec, making it a great choice for cocktails that require a more balanced flavor profile.

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

Written by Rocco

Rocco is a Florida State University alumnus with years of bartending and hospitality experience. From slinging hundreds of vodka sodas a night in jam-packed college bars to serving carefully crafted cocktails in upscale restaurants, there’s not much he hasn’t done behind a bar. Now, Rocco shares his knowledge and passion for all things alcohol-related here on My Bartender for bibulous readers everywhere to enjoy.

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