I have to admit a certain fascination with orange liqueur in all of its forms. As soon as I read about Cointreau, I knew I was on the right track. I’m a fan of citrus, and my tastes lean to the sweet side, so orange liqueur fits the bill. There really isn’t any tart in orange liqueurs (at least the ones I’ve tasted). It’s more of an essence of orange, and some are candy-like in the extreme.
So, I have a problem. I see a new orange liqueur, and, I want to try it. And so it was with DeKuyper O3. This is sold as the upscale version of their bottom shelf triple sec. It is listed as being made from “Brazilian Oranges”. It is less assertive in a cocktail thank Gran Gala, but also has a more natural aroma.
Proof: 80 (40% ABV)
Paid: $17 (on sale) for 750ml
Buy Again: Maybe
From the beginning of my cocktail experiments, I have been fascinated by orange liqueur, triple sec, curacao, and any other names you might want to line up to describe an essence of orange and a base spirit. I had started with Cointreau, fallen to the bottom shelf with Bols Triple Sec, and climbed halfway back up to find Gran Gala.
As usual, the walk around the ABC store after the first of the month draws my eye towards sales. And on that particular month, I found Gran Gala. Reviews were all over the place, but a blind tasting put it up in the decent realm.
So, purchase made, and back to the Lair. The aroma was sweet and certainly had some orange. It was fine in cocktails, so no complaints. It does bring a punch (of alcohol at 80 proof ) to the punch, so to speak. The only difference from previous or current orange liqueurs I’ve tried is the color. It is sort of a golden brown. Not a big issue, but is does color drinks, where other clear liqueurs don’t (aside from blue curacao) .
Proof: 80 (40% ABV)
Paid: $15 (on sale)
Buy again: Yes
Let’s face it. Blue Curacao is used for adding blue color to drinks, because Windex isn’t safe to drink! In the DeKuyper bottling, there may be some fake orange flavor and a sweet component. But, it’s blue!
I have seen reviews of other brands that might be a little truer to an orange curacao, and less focused on the blue coloring.
Proof: 30 (15% ABV)
Paid: $ for 750ml
Buy again: Probably (I have blue drinks to make!)
1 1/2 oz Spiced Rum (Cruzan 9 implied)
3/4 oz Triple Sec
2 oz Sour Mix
3/4 oz Orange Juice
Fill shaker with ice. Add ingredients. Shake. Strain into cocktail glass.
(Although the photo is the actual cocktail, it seems all yellow-orange cocktails in a cocktail glass are going to look the same!)
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.