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.
This is a versatile recipe, based on classic proportions for a traditional sour. A sour is a mix of spirits, triple sec (you can also use Cointreau or Grand Marnier), and citrus juice. Be sure to make this drink the day of the party—any earlier, and the citrus juice will spoil.
Sidecar, Whiskey Sour, Margarita, Daiquiri. These drinks have something fundamental in common: they're all sours. Sours are fundamental cocktails. Take a base spirit, add citrus, and polish it off with a sweetener, usually (but not always) triple sec. Tweak the balance as you will, but sours made well are always delicious.
A marriage of the Cosmopolitan and the Kir Royale, Champagne gets dressed up with cranberry juice and Triple Sec. Alcoholic, slightly sweet, and slightly tart, and you'll be thankful you took a few sips of this festive cocktail.
As with most cocktails, the origins of the Sidecar are hazy (be suspicious of those who state with certainty when or where the Sidecar was first mixed), but this entrancing mixture of brandy, lemon juice and orange liqueur started making the rounds in the most fashionable watering holes in London and Paris during the 1920s. Very simple in structure, the Sidecar is complex enough in flavor to satisfy even the most jaded palates, but not so over-the-top with mixological gewgaws as to frighten away the casual tippler.