Orange liqueur has earned a bad reputation over the last few decades. Take, for example, curaçao. When many people think of curaçao, they immediately recall bright blue cocktails, sticky sweet and garish—drinks they might have had in college or even as recently as last weekend. Today we'll look at a range of orange liqueurs, from high-priced brandy-laced products to inexpensive triple secs.
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Orange liqueur, in one form or another, is easy to find at any liquor store. Grand Marnier is the only curaçao that I've liked so far, though Pierre Ferrand recently released an intriguing new version worth checking out. In the triple sec category, Combier and Patron Citronge are both good but are second choices next to Cointreau. The less-pricey brands tend to taste overly sweet with a harsh bite. They taste, in a word, cheap. A side-by-side comparison of homemade orange liqueur with a bottom-shelf triple sec is no contest—DIY wins it by a mile.
It's impossible to have a well-stocked bar without orange liqueur, also known as curaçao or triple sec. It would be quicker to list cocktails that don't contain orange liqueur than to list the ones that do. Top-shelf brands like Grand Marnier and Cointreau are a little pricey, while the bottom-shelf options can drag a good drink into the gutter fast. But homemade orange liqueur is just right...and it's a blast to make.