Bols Triple Sec

After trying Cointreau and the realization that sometimes you just don’t like a cocktail and end up pouring it out, I decided to go lower down the shelf for orange liqueurs for experimental cocktails. This time, I left online research behind. I walked into the ABC store and asked the clerk what triple sec was a big seller. The response: Bols Triple Sec. It was a third of the price of  Cointreau at $7.95. Without hesitation, I grabbed a bottle and headed for the register,

Back at the Lair, I unscrewed the top and poured a small amount into a shot glass. I did the same with a bit of Cointreau. The Bols had more of an artificial, or candy, orange aroma. Tasting the two side-by-side surprised me at how sweet they both were. A tiny taste told a similar story, but as always, the alcohol blew away anything else.

I made a scaled down version of a cocktail from each (it could have been a Margarita, it was two years ago). Mixed in with some citrus or another, and with the primary spirit adding its burn, they were mostly identical to me.

It turns out that this would not always be the case, but for now I have learned that a cocktail did not always demand the more expensive ingredient.

Proof: 30 (15%ABV)

Paid: $8 for 750ml

Buy again: No


If you start by reading posts from people who are purists, or who believe there is only one option, no matter how expensive it is, you will end up with Cointreau as your first liqueur. Cointreau is the big dog, and priced to match. As I was just starting out, I picked up the 375ml bottle, at a cost of about $23!

Cointreau is an orange liqueur, and produced “from the dried peels of bitter and sweet orange” (Wikipedia). This adds a hint of orange flavor, aroma, and sweetness to cocktails.

From my perspective, other orange liqueurs work just fine.

Proof: 80 (40% ABV)

Paid: $23 for 375ml

Buy again: Probably not.

Liqueur: Overview

If you are looking for the heart of the cocktail for someone who may not care for strong alcohol, the liqueur is it.

A liqueur usually has a lower percentage of alcohol, compared to a liquor. It often brings a fair amount of sugar to the game which makes the alcohol seem to have less “burn”. And let’s not forget the flavoring which is the whole point. It can be a natural or artificial flavor.

In the cocktail world, probably the most well know liqueur is triple sec. If you’ve had a margarita, you’ve had triple sec. There is a large price differential from the bottom shelf to the top. I know there are people out there who can tell the subtle differences between a DeKuyper triple sec and Cointreau or Gran Marnier, but once buried in a cocktail with six other ingredients, I’d hazard that it doesn’t make a huge difference for most people.

Orange Liqueurs
An orange liqueur is generally produced “from the dried peels of bitter and sweet orange” (Wikipedia). This adds a hint of orange flavor, aroma, and sweetness to cocktails.

Limoncello is typically made from the zest of tart lemons that have little bitterness. Lemon zest, or peels without the pith, is steeped in a base spirit until the oil is released. The resulting yellow liquid is then mixed with simple syrup (Wikipedia link).

Non-citrus Fruit Liqueurs
Fruit Liqueurs are made from a neutral grain spirit, real or artificial fruit flavors, and sugar.

Almond liqueurs are produced from base of apricot pits, peach pits, or almonds.

Floral liqueurs are made from flowers that are steeped in a base spirit and typically with sugar added

Whiskey Flavored
Whiskey or Whiskey Flavoring are sometimes used in the productions of liqueurs.

Dessert Flavors
Coffee, Chocolate, Mint, Butterscotch and cream flavors are used to produce very dessert-like liqueurs