The secret to a great margarita all starts with the quality of the ingredients. Every component matters – from the tequila base and fresh lime juice to the orange liqueur. Triple sec is the most popular orange flavoring in margaritas, but it’s not the only option. We looked at many different orange liqueurs, including Triple Sec, to find the absolute best for adding a touch of orange flavor to a favorite mixed drink.
Types of Orange Liqueurs for Margaritas
When we think of margaritas, it’s the combination of tequila, lime, and maybe a bit of salt that naturally pops into our heads. What ties these flavors together is the addition of orange liqueur.
The type of orange liqueur you choose can completely change your margarita’s flavor profile. Yet, so many just reach for the cheapest bottle of Triple Sec they can find, thinking that all orange liqueurs tend to taste the same.
Don’t make this mistake with your margaritas. You don’t have to choose the most expensive orange-flavored liqueurs for your home bar, but you should know that you have options outside the lowest tier of Triple Sec.
In addition to Triple Sec, some other orange-flavored liqueurs are popular in classic cocktails, like the margarita. These include Grand Marnier, Cointreau, orange curaçao, and others that highlight the bright flavors of orange in different ways.
If you aren’t sure where to start on your quest for the perfect orange liqueurs for your margaritas, here are our choices for the best and some very honorable mentions.
- Types of Orange Liqueurs for Margaritas
- The 4 Best Orange Liqueurs for Making Margaritas at Home
- Other Good Orange Liqueurs for Margaritas
- The Perfect Classic Margarita Recipe
- Elevate Your Margarita Game
The 4 Best Orange Liqueurs for Making Margaritas at Home
1. Winner: Cointreau Orange Triple Sec
If you’ve ever had a margarita made with Cointreau Orange Triple Sec, then you understand exactly why it has earned the top spot in our picks for the best. Cointreau is crafted using a combination of sweet and bitter orange peel, giving it a wonderfully bright orange flavor and an incredible orange aroma.
We love Cointreau in margaritas because it’s not overly sweet and doesn’t battle with the flavor of the tequila. Instead, it compliments it nicely and offers a slightly herbal, fresh flavor component. If you want a well-balanced, warm, and smooth orange component for your favorite margarita recipe or any mixed drink, Cointreau doesn’t disappoint.
2. Splurge Orange Liqueur: Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge Orange Liqueur
Grand Marnier is a premium orange liqueur that deserves a spot in any sophisticated home bar. Compared to the other orange liqueurs on our list, Grand Marnier offers a more complex flavor, with the bitter orange serving more as an undertone to the warm notes of the cognac base.
If you were to order a top-shelf margarita at a bar or lounge, there’s a good chance that Grand Marnier will be used to replace the Triple Sec. Some might think that the deeper flavor of Grand Marnier will disrupt the balance of a margarita, but it adds just the right amount of orange and nuance complexity to take your cocktail over the top.
Grand Marnier is also arguably the best orange liqueur to invest in since it can be enjoyed straight or mixed into other cocktails, such as a Brandy Sidecar, or mixed with champagne.
3. Best Budget Orange Liqueur for Margaritas: DeKuyper Triple Sec Liqueur
DeKuyper is probably one of the most famous brands of Triple Sec. The combination of an affordable price point, plus the fact that this Triple Sec offers a wonderful citrus flavor that doesn’t taste like artificial orange, make this a top pick for anyone on a budget or who simply wants a bottle of solid, good-quality triple sec to blend into the favorite classic cocktail.
While you might not want to drink this Triple Sec on its own, it does offer just the right amount of added sweetness and delicious orange without being sticky-sweet. There’s no reason to feel like you have to spend a lot of money on the premium version when this favorite orange liqueur has graced endless bars, lounges, and home cocktail stations.
4. Best Orange Curacao: Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao is a standout in the family of orange liqueurs. This liqueur gets its bright orange flavor from only curaçao oranges. These are the same oranges that give blue curaçao its famous citrusy orange flavor, except Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao isn’t going to turn your margarita blue.
The history and process behind this orange liqueur date back hundreds of years and involve macerating the bitter orange peels of curacao oranges. A handful of other ingredients are involved, including prunes, lemon peels, vanilla, and unaged brandy, among others. This liqueur is then aged in oak casks, where it develops a beautifully complex flavor profile. The result is a flavorful liqueur with hints of warm spices that are less sweet and more refined than other Triple Secs.
Other Good Orange Liqueurs for Margaritas
5. Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
Sometimes you want a triple sec with exceptional flavor. We love this Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur because it’s full of the sweet blood orange zest flavor and has a bright, citrusy aroma and taste.
This delicious liqueur rivals cognac and brandy in terms of complexity. It is a little pricier than your standard Triple Sec, though.
6. Citrónge Orange Liqueur
If your preference in Triple Sec or orange liqueurs leans more toward bright, fresh flavors that don’t taste too sweet and syrupy, this Citronge Orange Liqueur is a favorite. This versatile and flavorful liqueur will add the perfect finishing touch to your margarita or any other favorite cocktail enhanced with orange and floral notes.
7. Gran Gala Orange Liqueur
Gran Gala Orange is rich and decadent, with flavors that are bright enough to elevate any margarita. This liqueur is the perfect blend of fine brandy and oranges, which creates a very rich taste that brings to mind candied orange peel. This is definitely one of the best triple secs for someone who really wants a little richness and punch of orange flavors to their margaritas.
8. Leroux Triple Sec Liqueur
Leroux makes our list because it’s a super affordable spirit that tastes like a premium Triple Sec. This is a colorless liqueur that gets its flavor from dried orange peels. This is a great Triple Sec to keep stocked in your home bar, and the price point makes it an affordable addition, even if you don’t use Triple Sec that much in your home cocktail making.
9. Bauchant Orange Liqueur
Bauchant is a treat among orange-flavored liqueurs. It all starts with a smooth cognac base, and to that is added the essences of tangerine, Andalusian, and mandarin oranges. You can taste the balance of sweet and bitter oranges, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how light and smooth this liqueur is. Bauchant is perfect when you want a more prominent and noticeable orange taste in your margaritas.
10. Paula’s Texas Orange
Lovers of citrus will love Paula’s Texas Orange. Paula’s also making other citrus-flavored liqueurs, including grapefruit and lemon, but for the money, this is one of the best triple secs for when you want a bright burst of orange flavor to shine through in your margarita.
The Perfect Classic Margarita Recipe
We didn’t want to part ways without sharing one of our favorite classic margarita recipes. This one is about as simple and perfect as it gets. You need Patron Reposado tequila (or your favorite tequila Blanco). Agave nectar, lime juice, Cointreau or preferred Triple Sec, some salt, and a lime wedge.
Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with some ice, and shake well. Serve in a glass with a salted rim, if desired, and don’t forget the nice, juicy lime wedge as a garnish.
What is Triple Sec?
Triple sec is an orange-flavored liqueur that originated in France. Different types of oranges can be used to make triple sec. Bitter orange is popular, but it’s not uncommon to find mandarin orange, valencia orange, or other types of oranges used to create bright, complex citrus flavor profiles.
What is Orange Curacao?
Orange Curacao is a liqueur made using the essence of bitter orange, also referred to as Curacao orange. There are different types of orange curacao on the market. You can find orange-hued varieties, dry varieties that aren’t as sweet, and blue curacao, famous for its jewel-toned blue hue.
Can I use orange bitters instead or orange liqueur?
It depends on what type of cocktail you’re making. In something like a margarita, the difference in flavor between orange bitters and a liqueur such as Cointreau might make an interesting drink, but it won’t taste like a classic margarita. In other drinks, orange bitters might do the trick if you just want a hint of orange flavor without something heavy or syrupy.
Elevate Your Margarita Game
Any tequila aficionado will offer their opinion about the best tequila for a margarita, but what about the triple sec? We think it’s an equally important component, and choosing the best one will make all the difference in the taste and enjoyment you get from your favorite cocktail. Check back with us regularly for more suggestions and lists of our favorite drinks.