Triple sec is a type of Curaçao liqueur. But unlike Curaçao – which is flavoured with Laraha, an inedibly bitter but wonderfully fragrant citrus fruit from the island of Curaçao – triple sec is made from the dried peels of both bitter and sweet oranges.
Although it can be enjoyed straight, triple sec is even better when used as a tool in your mixology arsenal. You can learn to mix like a pro here, but in the meantime, here are a few top triple sec drinks guaranteed to blow even the most discerning palate away.
Best triple sec cocktail recipes
Margarita on the rocks
A margarita is an essential inclusion on any drinks menu – and for good reason. It first gained popularity in the prohibition era, as Mexican bars boomed with north-of-the-border booze tourists. And, as this recipe shows, it’s incredibly easy to make.
All you need for a basic margarita recipe is equal parts of three ingredients:
Simply shake together equal parts of each ingredient and strain the mixture into a glass. You’ll have a passable cocktail, but serving it as is will likely raise a few eyebrows.
Mixologist's tip: the secret lies in its elegant presentation. To execute an authentic margarita, rub a lime wedge around the rim of each glass. Then pour some coarse salt into a shallow dish and dip the glasses upside down into it. It’s sipping the cocktail over salt that makes the margarita a bonafide classic.
If you like your cocktails both strong and fruity then the Bourbonella is for you. As you may have guessed from the name, the hero here is bourbon whiskey.
1 shot of your favourite bourbon
½ a shot of triple sec
½ a shot of dry vermouth
A dash of grenadine syrup
Shake in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes and strain into a lowball or rocks glass. There’s no need to garnish this one, but you can slide an orange slice onto the rim if you want to dress it up.
Triple sec pairs magnificently with cranberry juice, and there is no end to the list of cocktail recipes combining the two. But let’s keep it simple here with a classic cosmopolitan. Vodka, triple sec, cranberry and lime juice are all you need here.
Into your cocktail shaker, pour:
1 ½ shots of vodka
1 shot of triple sec
½ a shot of cranberry juice
½ a shot of lime juice (preferably squeezed fresh)
Half fill the shaker with ice, shake the ingredients together, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
If the thought of a cosmopolitan makes your mouth water but you’ve no cranberry juice to hand, here’s a simple shot to start the night with. Even for a fruity shot, this one is incredibly palatable. The name serves as a reminder not to get carried away – if it sounds dangerous, it probably is.
Of course, shots are for sharing, so here’s how to make two kamikazes at once. Shake together:
1 ½ shots of vodka
1 shot of triple sec
half a shot of lime with ice
Then strain into two double shot glasses. It’s that simple.
Mixologist's tip: it’s not hard to see how adding a dash of cranberry juice could turn the kamikaze into more of a cosmo shooter. You could also alter the ratio of vodka and triple sec if you prefer it more orangey.
And now for something completely different. It’s possible you already know from the name whether this coffee cocktail is for you or not. It’s smooth like velvet, but it won’t take many before you’re completely hammered.
If you love a White Russian, then you have to try this. Similarly if you love your morning latte with a squirt of fruit syrup.
This is also a cocktail you’ll want to stir so, unlike the ones above, you won’t need a cocktail shaker handy.
There are two common variants here, so let’s get the simpler one out of the way before we go mad with cognac and chocolate. All you need to do is fill a highball glass with ice, then pour in:
Looking for more ideas? Both of these cocktails are perfect for warm summer days, dinner parties, or lively evenings at the hotel bar. If you like strong cocktails and are up for a challenge, try this Sidecar cocktail using Triple Sec or another orange liqueur like Cointreau or Grand Marnier. Be sure to measure the amounts carefully to get the ratio of sour to sweet right. Or, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, try elBulli chef Paco Roncero’s take on the Vodka Martini, guaranteed to wow your friends with the liquid nitrogen topper! Just let friends know they shouldn’t drink it until all the nitrogen has boiled off, this helps avoid accidents.
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