Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

All About Orange Liqueurs


  • Please log in to reply
116 replies to this topic

#31 eje

eje
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 4,359 posts
  • Location:San Francisco, CA

Posted 31 March 2007 - 05:04 PM

I guess I tend to divide them by spirits base.

The brandy based orange liqueurs get lumped in one box, the neutral spirits based orange liqueurs in a second, the rum based one in a third, and so forth.

I think it is fair to point out, as Andy has, that the neutral spirits based "Triple Secs" tend to be solely about orange, rather than additional flavorings. While vanilla and other spices may be far more dominant in the Brandy ones like Grand Marnier.

Many of these are based on the traditions of spiced liqueurs, like Licor 43, rather than a straight ahead orange flavor.

The Clement Creole Shrubb, which falls into the spiced orange liqueur tradition, is my current favorite orange liqueur, too. Though, I've also heard good things about the Santa Theresa orange liqueur.

I'm still curious about the Orange/White Curacao dichotomy that David Santucci brought up. In the past, were other Orange Curacaos made on a Brandy base? Is it accurate to say Grand Marnier is a type of Orange Curacao?

And also, of course, wondering, if Brizard Orange Curacao is the most appropriate thing to use when Orange Curacao is called for in a classic drink recipe.
---
Erik Ellestad
If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...
Bernal Heights, SF, CA

#32 bostonapothecary

bostonapothecary
  • participating member
  • 1,250 posts
  • Location:have shaker will travel

Posted 31 March 2007 - 10:25 PM

The Clement Creole Shrubb, which falls into the spiced orange liqueur tradition, is my current favorite orange liqueur, too.  Though, I've also heard good things about the Santa Theresa orange liqueur.

I'm still curious about the Orange/White Curacao dichotomy that David Santucci brought up.  In the past, were other Orange Curacaos made on a Brandy base?  Is it accurate to say Grand Marnier is a type of Orange Curacao?

And also, of course, wondering, if Brizard Orange Curacao is the most appropriate thing to use when Orange Curacao is called for in a classic drink recipe.

View Post


wouldn't curacao have to be made on the island of curacao??
and therefore probably be made of rum....
i dont' even consider grand marnier artisinal anymore.... it just doesn't fit my cocktail aesthetic.... i never pour any of that stuff ever.
orange flower water is some pretty good stuff. i should probably use more of it....

my personal goal is to become the largest account in the world for creole shrub : )
abstract expressionist beverage compounder
creator of acquired tastes
bostonapothecary.com

#33 thirtyoneknots

thirtyoneknots
  • participating member
  • 1,968 posts
  • Location:Texas

Posted 01 April 2007 - 01:34 AM

I've never been huge on Grand Marnier, but I do agree that it's fairly accurate to describe it as an herbal liqueur with a high note of orange, more than just a straightforward 'orange liqueur'

-Andy
Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

#34 Scott S

Scott S
  • participating member
  • 54 posts

Posted 01 April 2007 - 06:16 AM

Due to a post on the Tiki Central Forums I decided to go through my orange liqueurs to taste-test, note, and compare. Come to find out I had 10 orange liqueurs lying about, and it took me two nights to go through them all and write this.


Orange Liqueur Throwdown

The Orange-Cognac/Brandy Liqueurs

Grand Marnier - $43, 80 proof

The original liqueuer created in 1880 by Louis-Alexander Marnier Lapostolle. A delicate blend of fine cognacs and distilled essence of tropical oranges with the addition of "the Marnier Lapostolle secret." Slow ageing in French oak casks gives it incomparable roundeness and subtlety.

Mild scent of bitter oranges with cognac. Pleasant smell. Very nice orange taste, very natural, with a mild cognac behind it. Perfect mouthfeel, just a little thick but not cloying, but thick enough to remain in the mouth for some time. A slow finish with a very mild burn, but lightly lingers in the mouth for some time. A high quality liqueur that is extremely sippable. Wonderful. In a cocktail I would think it a bit mild when looking for orange flavor, but it's high quality and cognac flavor would greatly benefit the right cocktails.


Marie Brizard Orangero - $20, 76 Proof

Cognac based orange liqueur. Andalusia is one the prestigious parts of Spain where they traditionally grow the sweetest and juiciest oranges. If you distill the blend of sweet and bitter fruit, the result will be nothing else but Orangero.
(I think this is the same product under a new name, Grand Orange.)


The only clear one of these cognac/brandy liqueurs. Very nice natural orange smell, not too strong, with hints of bitterness. Pleasing taste, again not overly powerful. Slightly sweet, but a nice balance tending towards bitterness, with a little bit of heat. Slightly thick mouthfeel, a touch of burn, and a fast finish. This is very well done, and a pleasure to sip, but doesn't have much place in a cocktail due to it's weak taste.


GranGala - $26, 80 Proof

Imported from the House of Stock in Trieste, Italy since 1884, GranGala draws its proud heritage from the Italian beauty, culture and tradition of an earlier century. Its orange flavor is always exceptionally smooth and pleasing to the palate. Remarkably versatile, Imported GranGala is delicious in Margaritas, Cosmopolitans, straight, on-the-rocks or in shooters. It is also great when mixed with vodka, gin, vermouth, flavored brandies, fruit juices and even other liqueurs. GranGala's sophisticated orange flavor can enhance the flavor of foods ranging from appetizers to entrees and desserts and is used by five-star European chefs to delight gourmets.

One with color, it's a mild orange color, like a yellow-orange mixed with a light brandy (which it is). Smell is a odd thing, with some orange but something else, almost nutty. Taste of orange but not too much, more of the fruity brandy coming through. Pleasant enough, but not awe-inspiring. A larger sip brings more orange to the roof of the mouth, and finishes a little longer with a very very mild burn. The orange definitely comes through after letting it linger, something that doesn't really happen with a smaller sip. A fine, quality liqueur, very good for sipping if it catches your fancy, but it has some oddness - in the brandy I'd say - that would appeal to some and definitely not appeal to others. I also think that this would be a bit odd in most cocktails.


The Triple Sec Liqueurs

Cointreau - $40, 80 Proof

One of the world's most renowned brands, Cointreau is a unique premiu spirit made from orange peels, which has been enojoyed around the world for more than 150 years. Cointreau's subtle complexity can be appreciated simply over ice, with freshly squeezed lime juice mixed with sparkiling water in a refreshing Cointreua Bubbles, or, shaken for an indulgent and sophisticated cocktail such as the Cointreau Cosmipolitan or the original Margarita.

Strong smell of natural oranges, like twisting a fresh orange peel - pith and rind - under your nose. The bitterness come through quite a bit, but it's not unpleasant at all, just strong. Strong orange taste, quite sweet, smooth at first with a taste that fills the mouth with orange. A bit thick, but a pleasant mouthfeel to it. Very long finish that burns quite a bit, and for a long time. For sipping, this is quite overpowering assault of flavor and a burn that is not exactly condusive to sipping. It has a powerful taste for a cocktail, and would need to balanced to suit it's strong orange flavor.


Marie Brizard Triple Sec - $20, 78 Proof

The best bitter oranges are harvested from Haiti. The orange skins are dried under the hot Caribbean sun to concentrate all their exotic flavors. While distilling them, Marie Brizard preserves their flavor and the acute aromas that are typical of this fruit.

Quite mild smell of oranges, much milder than Cointreau. The taste is of a sweeter, milder orange-like flavor. This is not the taste of orange peels, but rather a very strong orange slice. Almost as thick of a mouthfeel as Cointreau, but a bit smoother and more pleasant. Finish is much much shorter than Cointreau, and much milder - almost no burn at all. This is a pleasant sipping liqueur, though it might not have enough flavor for some. It does not seem like a liqueur that would be very noticable in a cocktail.


Patron Citronge - $24, 80 Proof

Patrón Citrónge is a premium reserve, extra fine orange liqueur. It is the only pure, natural orange liqueur that is distilled in Mexico and exported to the United States. No artificial flavors or chemical enhancers are ever added. Citrónge is excellent straight or in a premium cocktail. It also adds a unique flavor to gourmet cooking recipes. Citrónge and Patrón tequila make the finest, most authentic, smooth and delicious Margaritas.

Smell is stronger than MB and milder than Cointreau, with a mild sense of artificial ingredients. Initial taste is strong on the front of the tongue, with a noticable amount of alcohol taste in the back of the nose. Mouthfeel is extremely pleasant - smooth and fine. Perfect in fact. The mid-taste bursts and fills the mouth and sides of the tongue with a very pleasant flavor which subsides into the finish. However, a sneaky little burn follows down the throat - not unpleasant, just noticable. The mid-taste is by far it's best point, and this extra burst of taste would warrant a cocktail that could handle it.


Allen's Triple Sec - $7, 30 Proof

No useful information found about this liqueur. The bottle says "Allen's Liqueurs are made using the finest quality ingredients, resulting in an exceptional product to be savored.

Smell is of a medium orange, somewhat artificial and smells a bit like a candy ingredient. It's an enticing smell and makes you want more. Taste is nothing special to speak of - barely orange, with a good deal of sweetness but surprisingly not over-powerful. The finish starts with a hint of bitterness and is over suddenly, with no burn. I really can't see this doing much in a cocktail. There's just not enough smell or taste or alcohol for this to be very worthwhile.


The Curacao Liqueurs

Senior Curacao Of Curacao - $26, 62 Proof

We named it "Curacao of Curacao" to differentiate it from other brands of Curacao liqueur that are not original. We are the only original since we have the only Curacao liqueur processed with the dried peels of the "Laraha" (bitter orange native of Curacao).

Smell is a not-too-strong one of mildly bitter oranges, with tints of sweetness. Sweet taste, good orange strength, less bitter than the smell but very mildly artificial-tasting. Perfect mouthfeel, with a subtle bit clinging to the mouth to extend the taste. Very smooth, medium finish, only a tiny hint of burn. Very conducive to sipping. This seems like a good balance of orange flavor and sweetness for many cocktails.


DeKuyper Curacao - $11, 54 Proof

No useful information found about this liqueur. The bottle says "Our curacao is produced in the Old World DeKuyper tradition. The result is a smooth, naturally delicious product." It also says "Natural Orange Flavor."

Decently strong orange smell, with a bit of artificial sweetness, though not unattractively so. Stronger orange taste than the smell, with even more artificalness in it's sweetness. Thick mouthfeel but not overly so, and not clinging. Very smooth, medium finish and no burn at all. For less than half the price of the Senior Curacao this should be considered, though the Senior is definitely in another class the DeKuyper is far more than half the quality. This should be very good in most cocktails calling for Curacao.


Leroux Curacao - $9, 30 Proof

No useful information found about this liqueur. The bottle says "Natural Fruit Flavor."

Strong orange smell with some bitter detected, though somewhat artificial. Less orange taste, more sweetness, and quickly finished with no burn at all. Relatively unremarkable, though this has enough orange taste to be considered for the inexpensive, sweet cocktails.


Summary


The first thing that keeps coming to mind is the burn at the finish of the Cointreau. No other liqueur in this review came anywhere close. This shouldn't be of too much concern in most cocktails though. It was by far the strongest orange taste, and by a lesser margin the most natural tasting.

The Patron Citronge surprised me with it's quality and mid-burst of extra taste. I look forward to using this in cocktails that need a bit more complexity, and the Mai Tai would be one of my first choices.

The similarities - and price difference - between the Senior and DeKuyper made me go back for a showdown between the two. The Senior definitely wins in this showdown, with more orange flavor and much more natural. The DeKuyper should not be overlooked though, especially since it's less than half the price.

The high quality of the Grand Marnier makes it a staple, but it's cognac base and somewhat mild orange flavor means it needs the correct cocktail, and should not be used in any old cocktail that calls for orange flavor. By the time the orange was strong enough the cognac might be too strong. Alone, or in the right cocktail, it's outstanding.


Best Orange Flavor


Cointreau

Best Overall Quality


Grand Marnier

Best Bargain

DeKuyper

Edited by Scott S, 01 April 2007 - 06:17 AM.


#35 eje

eje
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 4,359 posts
  • Location:San Francisco, CA

Posted 01 April 2007 - 06:27 PM

Thanks for posting that here, Scott!

I found your comparison of GranGala to Grand Marnier to be particularly interesting, along with your comments on Patron Citronge.

I had always assumed Citronge was made on a tequila base; but, your inclusion of it in the triple sec category makes wonder if it is on a neutral spirits base. Do you know if this is the case? I can't find any indication either way on their website.
---
Erik Ellestad
If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...
Bernal Heights, SF, CA

#36 Scott S

Scott S
  • participating member
  • 54 posts

Posted 01 April 2007 - 06:45 PM

Well, take my calling it "triple sec" with a bit of care. I'm no expert in these matters, but it just did not seem to fit with the Curacaos and certainly not with the brandy/cognac ones.

I can't say that I detected any hint of tequila, though I have to say that the first thought in my mind was "Margarita!" when I tasted it. I would say that it certainly seems like it was made for margaritas, and would pair with tequila perfectly. I can't wait for the night that I'm in a margarita mood, the Citronge will come back out in an instant.


I just had another smell and sip and I can definitely say that I don't think there's any tequila in it. It just seems like a different bitter orange in there amongst the other orange tastes. It really is quite good.

I got a 375ml for $13 locally, in Massachusetts. I'm sure it's cheaper in CA. Try it - you won't be wasting your money.

#37 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,107 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 02 April 2007 - 09:15 AM

Thanks for the notes, Scott. I'm not sure I entirely agree with your assessments as to suitability for cocktails, but that's why we play the game. :smile:


A few general thoughts:

Marie Brizard Orangero: I'm not quite sure what this product is, and I don't see it listed on Marie Brizard's list of fruit liqueurs. Perhaps it's the old name for what they are now calling Grand Orange, or perhaps it's a defunkt liqueur. I don't think Grand Orange is all that interesting.

Triple Sec versus Curaçao Liqueur: It's a bit difficult to classify orange liqueurs into families and say that one is definitively a curaçao liqueur and not a triple sec while another is definitively a triple sec and not a curaçao liqueur. Technically, I suppose triple sec is usually colorless and supposed to be made with a blend of sweet and bitter orange peels (originally from Haiti) while curaçao liqueur is usually colored and supposed to be made with bitter orange peels ony (technically from the island of Curaçao). There is a good deal of overlap, though. Senior makes an uncolored bottling of Curaçao of Curaçao, and triple sec was originally called "white curaçao."

In practice, of course, the lesser brands are made with whatever they have on hand, and both sweet and bitter orange peels are usually sourced worldwide. As a generality, I'd say that curaçao liqueur has a sweeter, less fragrant and slightly bitter aspect compared to triple sec.

Patrón Citrónge is not tequila-based. It's made with neutral spirits and a blend of sweet and bitter orange peels, making it a textbook triple sec. If I were cynical I'd suggest that what we have here is simply a tequila company using the historical association of Cointreau with tequila in the Margarita cocktail to roll out their own brand of triple sec which they promote as being a better match with tequila due to its provenance. Since it costs just as much as Cointreau, I don't see any reason to switch.

Brandy-Based versus Not-Brandy-Based: This distinction doesn't really hold through very well. Marie Brizard's orange curaçao is made with brandy, as is Cointreau's triple sec. Grand Marnier could be classified a curaçao liqueur, as it is colored and is made with bitter orange peel. GranGala calls itself a "triple orange liqueur," which could make it a brandy-based triple sec.

Suitability for Cocktails: For triple sec liqueurs, Cointreau is considered the gold standard by which all others are measured. Luxardo's Triplum and Marie Brizard's triple sec are considered more or less acceptable substitutions, although even with these quality products I think there are certain cocktails (e.g., the Sidecar) for which it's Cointreau or nothing in my book. What makes Cointreau so much better than all the other triple sec liquers is precisely the intensity of flavor and aroma, especially when considered alongside sweetness. We're not generally using a lot of Cointreau in a cocktail, which is why the intensity is so important. With something like DeKuyper or Hiram Walker, by the time you've used enough of the liqueur to make a positive contribution of flavor, the drink is way too sweet. Personally, I find "off brand" orange liqueurs like Hiram Walker, DeKuyper, Leroux, etc. have artificial flavors, and I have my doubts as to whether they're made with real orange peels.

For curaçao liqueurs it's a little more complicated, as there does not seem to be a "Cointreau of curaçao liqueur." Senior's Curaçao of Curaçao is very good, although very difficult to source in the US. Most cocktailians in the US seem to use Marie Brizard's orange curaçao which, alas, was not among the ones you tasted. I've used goth Grand Marnier and GranGala as the curaçao component in a cocktail although, in line with your thinking, one has generally to increase the proportion due to the more muted orange flavor (which luckily also comes with lower sweetness).

Other Orange Liqueurs: It's kind of a shame that Patrón Citrónge isn't tequila-based, because that would make it a lot more interesting to me. There are a few interesting orange liqueurs, like Compass Box's Orangerie. which is made with ten year old scotch infused with spices and fresh orange peels. It would be interesting to see what other orange liqueurs might be good.

Edited by slkinsey, 02 April 2007 - 09:39 AM.

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#38 eje

eje
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 4,359 posts
  • Location:San Francisco, CA

Posted 02 April 2007 - 09:43 AM

[...]
Brandy-Based versus Not-Brandy-Based:  This distinction doesn't really hold through very well.  Marie Brizard's orange curaçao is made with brandy, as is Cointreau's triple sec.  Grand Marnier could be classified a curaçao liqueur, as it is colored and is made with bitter orange peel.  GranGala calls itself a "triple orange liqueur," which could make it a brandy-based triple sec. 
[...]

View Post

I find a number of web sites that say Cointreau is made with brandy, though, their own website does not mention it. Of course, the Cointreau website doesn't mention much of anything.

I can't say that the taste of Cointreau Triple Sec really brings to mind any type of aged brandy I've tried. If it is based on brandy, I would guess it made with a very young, or even unaged, one. Barely worth calling "brandy", in my opinion.
---
Erik Ellestad
If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...
Bernal Heights, SF, CA

#39 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,107 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 02 April 2007 - 09:53 AM

Who knows? Maybe it's filtered like some aged rums, to remove color? Or maybe it is relatively unaged. But I couldn't say that Marie Brizard or GranGala would taste all that "aged" to me in a blind tasting.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#40 eje

eje
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 4,359 posts
  • Location:San Francisco, CA

Posted 02 April 2007 - 10:05 AM

Who knows?  Maybe it's filtered like some aged rums, to remove color?  Or maybe it is relatively unaged.  But I couldn't say that Marie Brizard or GranGala would taste all that "aged" to me in a blind tasting.

View Post

I did find some wheat allergy related sites that said they have been assured by the manufacturer that Cointreau is grain free.

A few other web sites say Cointreau is made with "unaged grape neutral spirits" or "unaged brandy".

That jives with how it tastes.

I can assure you, that if you made a Blue err... Orange Monday with the Brizard Orange Curacao, the aged brandy base would be completely apparent, especially if compared with one made from Cointreau.
---
Erik Ellestad
If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...
Bernal Heights, SF, CA

#41 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,107 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 02 April 2007 - 10:25 AM

I can assure you, that if you made a Blue err... Orange Monday with the Brizard Orange Curacao, the aged brandy base would be completely apparent, especially if compared with one made from Cointreau.

But those are two different classes of liqueur (albeit somewhat interconnected, as I explained above). A better question would be whether a cocktail made with Marie Brizard orange curaçao has an "aged brandy" flavor relative to the same cocktail made with Senior orange curaçao (which as far as I know is made with neutral sprits), or whether that same cocktail made with Grand Marnier would taste "more aged" than the one made with Marie Brizard orange curaçao.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#42 eje

eje
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 4,359 posts
  • Location:San Francisco, CA

Posted 02 April 2007 - 10:29 AM

[...]A better question would be whether a cocktail made with Marie Brizard orange curaçao has an "aged brandy" flavor relative to the same cocktail made with Senior orange curaçao (which as far as I know is made with neutral sprits), or whether that same cocktail made with Grand Marnier would taste "more aged" than the one made with Marie Brizard orange curaçao.

View Post

I can answer the first, and say, absolutely, the Brizard has an aged brandy flavor when compared to the Senior Curacao. They taste like completely different liqueurs.
---
Erik Ellestad
If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...
Bernal Heights, SF, CA

#43 Scott S

Scott S
  • participating member
  • 54 posts

Posted 02 April 2007 - 10:29 AM

Thanks for the notes, Scott.  I'm  not sure I entirely agree with your assessments as to suitability for cocktails, but that's why we play the game. :smile:

A lot of my reasoning behind such a statement had to do with the amount of orange taste compared to the sweetness and also compared to the other things going on. For instance the MB Orangero (which I also think is now Grand Orange) is so light in orange taste that you'd barely taste it (if using recipe measurements) or you'd have to add much more (to get the same amount of orange taste) and then other things would be going on (too much sweetness, or too much "background" taste).

The GranGala I found to be just too "funky" and odd. I certainly wouldn't blindly substitute GG for GM without thinking about the rest of the cocktail.

I don't think Grand Orange is all that interesting.

Same here.

As a generality, I'd say that curaçao liqueur has a sweeter, less fragrant and slightly bitter aspect compared to triple sec.

I'd say that fits how I calssified them, but I won't argue that I'm absolutely correct.

Since it costs just as much as Cointreau, I don't see any reason to switch.

I would probably switch for margaritas, but not for everything.

Brandy-Based versus Not-Brandy-Based:  This distinction doesn't really hold through very well.

I guess that I saw this as the taste prominence of the brandy/cognac. In Cointreau the orange is quite powerful compared to the taste of the brandy, so I put this under triple sec. Classify it how you wish - I didn't mean for it to be a thorough classification but more of an easy way to differentiate.

Suitability for Cocktails:  For triple sec liqueurs, Cointreau is considered the gold standard by which all others are measured.  Luxardo's Triplum and Marie Brizard's triple sec are considered more or less acceptable substitutions...

After tasting them side-by-side I would never substitute the MB for Cointreau. While they are both high quality I got no comparison in taste. That is, I found the Cointreau to be much stronger in orange taste. If comparing two of the same cocktail using the same amounts of both then the MB has more of a chance of being undetectable. IMHO.

Senior's Curaçao of Curaçao is very good, although very difficult to source in the US.  Most cocktailians in the US seem to use Marie Brizard's orange curaçao which, alas, was not among the ones you tasted.

Funny how it works. I had no problem finding Senior but the MB Curacao was nowhere to be found, even after hunting through over 20 liquor stores from Boston to Maine.

#44 bostonapothecary

bostonapothecary
  • participating member
  • 1,250 posts
  • Location:have shaker will travel

Posted 02 April 2007 - 10:31 AM

what are your theories on how to mix orange flavor??

again i'm highly opinionated and i only mix it with clove and allspicey flavors....
i make any drink anyone asks for but personally i find it boring in so many classic drinks....

my favorite drink with orange is....

"sunset gun"

clove whiskey
creole shrub
reagan's orange bitters


the creole shrub's sugars elevate the clove in the whiskey from dull to vibrant....some mixology magic....
i can't find my notes on where i got the recipe but some genius deserves credit....

if anyone has an example of when orange liqueur elevates a flavor combo to magic i'm up for trying something new tonight....
abstract expressionist beverage compounder
creator of acquired tastes
bostonapothecary.com

#45 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,107 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 02 April 2007 - 10:45 AM

... MB Orangero (which I also think is now Grand Orange) ...

Didn't you say Orangero was clear, though? It looks orange here.

After tasting them side-by-side I would never substitute the MB for Cointreau. While they are both high quality I got no comparison in taste. That is, I found the Cointreau to be much stronger in orange taste. If comparing two of the same cocktail using the same amounts of both then the MB has more of a chance of being undetectable. IMHO.

Yea, I don't disagree with that. Just saying that when people want "triple sec" rather than Cointreau (ignoring for the moment that Cointreau is triple sec), MB seems to be the best one to reach for. Personally, for my own use I have only Cointreau.

Senior's Curaçao of Curaçao is very good, although very difficult to source in the US.  Most cocktailians in the US seem to use Marie Brizard's orange curaçao which, alas, was not among the ones you tasted.

Funny how it works. I had no problem finding Senior but the MB Curacao was nowhere to be found, even after hunting through over 20 liquor stores from Boston to Maine.

It's not that easy to find the MB at retail in NYC either, but the pros seem able to get it fairly easily and most of the best places use it.


Thinking about the "aged brandy" question, I note that MB specifies cognac for their orange but not for their blue curaçao. I wonder if they're made with different base spirits. Or, if not, I wonder if we'd be so ready to taste "aged" in the blue curaçao.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#46 Scott S

Scott S
  • participating member
  • 54 posts

Posted 02 April 2007 - 10:55 AM

... MB Orangero (which I also think is now Grand Orange) ...

Didn't you say Orangero was clear, though? It looks orange here.

Wow, yes that's orange, and Orangero is definitely clear. Perhaps they added some coloring agents to Grand Orange? Or changed the ingredients enough to get that color?

The descriptions are similar though, but the Orangero does mention something about bitterness. Considering that, IMHO, the Orangero was not very worthwhile, maybe others thought the same and they dropped Orangero and devloped Grand Orange?


Just saying that when people want "triple sec" rather than Cointreau (ignoring for the moment that Cointreau is triple sec), MB seems to be the best one to reach for. Personally, for my own use I have only Cointreau.

Both statements seem quite reasonable to me. Depends on the cocktail, and the person, though I would also always lean towards Cointreau.

Edited by Scott S, 02 April 2007 - 10:57 AM.


#47 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,107 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 02 April 2007 - 11:21 AM

... MB Orangero (which I also think is now Grand Orange) ...

Didn't you say Orangero was clear, though? It looks orange here.

Wow, yes that's orange, and Orangero is definitely clear. Perhaps they added some coloring agents to Grand Orange? Or changed the ingredients enough to get that color?

The descriptions are similar though, but the Orangero does mention something about bitterness. Considering that, IMHO, the Orangero was not very worthwhile, maybe others thought the same and they dropped Orangero and devloped Grand Orange?

Yea, hard to say. I suppose it's possible that Grand Orange is colored. On the other hand, the product description for Grand Orange says it's made with "cognac" which I think we are supposed to believe is aged and therefore colored already (I'm not convinced it's meaningfully aged). Grand Orange also does mention that it's made with a mixture of sweet and bitter oranges. I wonder if it isn't simply a brandy-based version of their Triple Sec?

On the other hand (and this speaks to some of my suppositions as to aging and color in these liqueurs) my google searches have turned up references to Orangero as "liqueur au cognac." It's a mystery.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#48 thirtyoneknots

thirtyoneknots
  • participating member
  • 1,968 posts
  • Location:Texas

Posted 02 April 2007 - 11:46 AM

GranGala calls itself a "triple orange liqueur," which could make it a brandy-based triple sec. 

View Post


Grand Marnier also says 'Triple Orange' right there on the label, which I always found curious. Is this to capitalize on a real or imagined public association of the word 'triple' with orange liqueurs? In my mind, 'triple sec' has a very definite meaning, even if I sometimes have trouble articulating what that is, and Grand Marnier does not fall under that heading. It's also interesting to note the brands requested most (around here anyway); I rarely have customers specify Cointreau in a Margarita (although I always use it if they have called better than well tequila), but frequently have people call for Grand Marnier, which to me seems to heavy to use in a Margarita. This is also a good opportunity to note that the Margarita is a great contender for most bastardized and abused classic cocktail (aside from the 'martini'), which probably contributes to this phenomenon, but that is for another thread.

-Andy
Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

#49 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,107 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 02 April 2007 - 12:37 PM

This is where it all gets confusing. I agree that we are usually thinking of something Cointreau-like when we say "triple sec." And yet, I am also led to believe that Grand Marnier is technically a kind of triple sec (indeed, I think orange curaçao is technically triple sec).
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#50 Scott S

Scott S
  • participating member
  • 54 posts

Posted 02 April 2007 - 12:58 PM

Just my opinion, but I have a hard time calling something like Grand Marnier a triple sec just because of everything else going on. While it may technically be a triple sec I don't feel that such a title does justice - not mentioning the cognac base seems like hiding something while at the same time not mentioning a very important point. Would you call the Cuvee Du Cent Cinquantenaire a triple sec? Seems like heresy.


In the end, I think the most imprtant thing is liking what you like. It really does depend on the person, the mood, and the cocktail. With that thought I'd say that I will always have Cointreau, Grand Marnier, and Citronge on hand. My bottle of Gran Gala will probably remain untouched for years to come. The others will be forgotten once they're all used up on cocktails or friends where the taste isn't so important.

#51 Nathan

Nathan
  • participating member
  • 4,260 posts

Posted 02 April 2007 - 01:19 PM

Patron makes an orange liqueur that appears to be intended to be a Cointreau clone....the bottle is even an identical shape. It's quite good...and cheaper than Cointreau. They don't call it a "triple sec" or an orange brandy...but I'd consider it part of the generic family.

#52 bostonapothecary

bostonapothecary
  • participating member
  • 1,250 posts
  • Location:have shaker will travel

Posted 02 April 2007 - 08:42 PM

the youngest pierre ferrand.... premeir cru? has so much notes of orange blossoms that i thought it was distilled with them.... and they abandon all those VS VSOP XO markings.... in a white ceramic glass it also looking really orangy in color. stunning stuff but i always wondered how those intense orange notes got in there....
abstract expressionist beverage compounder
creator of acquired tastes
bostonapothecary.com

#53 thirtyoneknots

thirtyoneknots
  • participating member
  • 1,968 posts
  • Location:Texas

Posted 02 April 2007 - 11:27 PM

This is where it all gets confusing.  I agree that we are usually thinking of something Cointreau-like when we say "triple sec."  And yet, I am also led to believe that Grand Marnier is technically a kind of triple sec (indeed, I think orange curaçao is technically triple sec).

View Post


I disagree; I think that triple secs are a type of curacao, not the other way around. To me, only clear products can be 'triple sec' since the term itself implies that the distillation wasdone after the inclusion of the orange flavor (or even as the means of including it). Of course being nitpicky about such minutiae is the fun part of this disease we call 'Cocktailianism' :-P

-Andy
Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

#54 The Hersch

The Hersch
  • participating member
  • 245 posts

Posted 03 April 2007 - 09:21 AM

I have yet to encounter definitions of triple sec and curaçao that are both unambiguous and authoritative--that is, definitive. Do they exist?

#55 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,107 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 03 April 2007 - 10:48 AM

Exactly. It's confusing. What we can say for sure is that they're both orange-flavored. And it seems to be the case that curaçao liqueur is made only with bitter orange peels while triple sec uses both bitter and sweet. Beyond that, it seems fairly ambiguous. I've even heard some people say that "triple sec" indicates triple distillation, and Andy claims above that it also indicates distillation after the orange peel infusion. ("Sec" means "dry" in French, and is also how one might indicate "neat" or "straight" when ordering a spirit -- I'm not sure where the idea comes from that "sec" refers to distillation.) This would presumably mean that curaçao liqueur is not redistilled post-infusion? Regardless, like The Hersch, I have yet to see any definitive information one way or the other.

Edited by slkinsey, 03 April 2007 - 10:50 AM.

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#56 eje

eje
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 4,359 posts
  • Location:San Francisco, CA

Posted 03 April 2007 - 12:09 PM

I've always based my Orange Liqueur assumptions on philip's (Philip Duff, I believe) posts in these two drinkboy topics:

Bols Orange Curacao

Curacao

There is a fair bit of history in both topics, especially the "Bols Orange Curacao" one.

edit - Fair warning, the Bols products available in the US are not the same as the European products that Philip is talking about in these topics. Contract distilled by a different manufacturer, same in name only, etc.

Edited by eje, 03 April 2007 - 12:33 PM.

---
Erik Ellestad
If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...
Bernal Heights, SF, CA

#57 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,107 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 03 April 2007 - 12:40 PM

Interesting.

Some of what he says seems contrary to other reliable information I've received. For example, I've been given to understand that the only difference betwen blue curaçao and orange curaçao is color. Now, of course it doesn't have to be that way. Makers can certainly change the formula by color if they wish, and apparently Bols does, but I've never heard that blue curaçao is supposed to have a flavor that is distinct from orange curaçao.

If I can paraphrase what he says about the history, it goes something like this:

<blockquote>First there was curaçao, an orange liqueur produced on the Dutch Carribbean island of Curaçao using the peels of the local bitter oranges.

This liqueur grew in popularity, and before too long the market was full of over-sweet/under-potent orange liqueurs. The balance was so far in the direction of sweet and away from orange, that curaçao came to be used in cocktails primarily for its sweetening properties. [At this point, I think we can assume that many, perhaps most curaçao brands were not made exclusively with bitter orange.]

Cointreau began selling their curaçao as "triple sec," to indicate that this was a dry version of the liqueur. Eventually the classification "triple sec" became diluted and the company began calling the product "Cointreau." Grand Marnier did the same thing with their curaçao.</blockquote>
Not sure that does much to clear up the curaçao/triple sec question. According to those links, production of curaçao has gone back to a more orange-flavored, less sweet aesthetic. Other than color, however, it's still unclear to me what definitively distinguishes triple sec from curaçao. There are certainly cheap triple sec liqueurs that are sweeter than better quality curaçao liqueurs. If we color those triple sec liqueurs orange, do we now have curaçao?
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#58 Scott S

Scott S
  • participating member
  • 54 posts

Posted 03 April 2007 - 12:53 PM

Your quotes match what I have heard, too.

Seems like the true reasoning behind the names is lost, but it leans to triple sec being dryer than the sweeter curacaos, and also seems to imply that triple secs are of higher quality. But the "bastardization" of the name curacao rings true if one reads the Senior web site which explains why they call their product "Curacao of Curacao."

We named it "Curacao of Curacao" to differentiate it from other brands of Curacao liqueur that are not original. We are the only original since we have the only Curacao liqueur processed with the dried peels of the "Laraha" (bitter orange native of Curacao).

#59 thirtyoneknots

thirtyoneknots
  • participating member
  • 1,968 posts
  • Location:Texas

Posted 03 April 2007 - 01:54 PM

My previous post wasn't meant to be an authoritative claim on flavoring and distillation, though upon rereading it does more or less come off that way. I just can't imagine any other way to add a flavor element that also has color and then come out with a clear product.
Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

#60 slkinsey

slkinsey
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 11,107 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 03 April 2007 - 02:22 PM

Seems likely from the material Erik linked to thatmany of both kinds are redistilled after the orange infusion -- although the cheap ones are certainly made with alcohol and flavorings. I also have to believe that most curaçao liqueur is colored with added coloring agents. For example, Senior in describing their Curaçao of Curaçao brand says "The original liqueur is clear in color, but it is also available in four (4) other colors: blue, red, mandarine (orange) and green. These colors are available for cocktail purposes. ... The taste is exactly the same." Some of the brandy-based ones (Grand Marnier for sure, and perhaps also GranGala?) likely derive their coloration primarily from the alcohol base.

Grand Marnier, interestingly, seems to infuse orange peels into neutral spirits, then blends the flavored alcohol with "up to 5 years old" cognac, then ages the whole works in oak.

Edited by slkinsey, 03 April 2007 - 02:32 PM.

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey