13 Best Cointreau Substitutes for Cocktails

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Cointreau is a premium French orange-flavored alcoholic drink known for its orange freshness and expressive orange fruity notes. Many would argue that Cointreau is a type of liqueur, which isn’t entirely wrong, given its consistency and flavor. 

However, Cointreau actually falls under the triple sec category. Due to its substantial alcohol content, 40%, and proof, 80%, it is pretty rough on the palate, so it is best known for its use in cocktails.

Just for comparison, triple sec is also used for cocktails due to its harshness when had alone, and triple sec has 15%-25% alcohol content and 30 to 50 proof. 

Therefore, you can imagine how stronger Cointreau is than regular triple sec. Cointreau is colorless and high in viscosity. There are other Cointreau flavors, such as blood orange, but the orange-flavored Cointreau is the best-known and best-sold. 

Cointreau is way pricier than a regular triple sec, or even Grand Marnier, costing about $40 per 750 ml. bottle. However, since it is used in small quantities in cocktails, it is quite affordable since it will last you a long time. 


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There are many reasons why you should use Cointreau in your cocktail, but also many reasons to substitute it for another ingredient.

Maybe you are in the mood for a non-alcoholic cocktail, or you just want to experiment with different alcohols. Also, you may remember halfway through that you are out of Cointreau and urgently need a substitute. 

You may also want to substitute Cointreau for something cheaper, but you don’t want it to be the plain old triple sec.

So, what are the best Cointreau substitutes? 

To properly substitute for Cointreau, you need to figure out why you are substituting for it. Maybe you don’t have it handy, and you want to get as close as possible to flavor and alcohol, in which case you may need a combination of ingredients.

If you want to substitute Cointreau for something milder in alcohol content, you should think about a triple sec, or if you want to completely leave out the alcohol and substitute only the flavor, you should go for a non-alcoholic substitute. 

Substituting Cointreau for another ingredient also implies adjusting the quantities of the substitute and the rest of the cocktail ingredients. For example, the substitute may be lower or higher in alcohol, so using the same quantity would result in a cocktail that is too strong or too mild for you. 

In the following article, I will list some of the best substitutes for Cointreau and how to use them. I will also explain which substitute works best for what kind of substitution so that you can enjoy your next cocktail to the fullest. 

1. Triple Sec


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Triple sec is a well-known cocktail ingredient and, in this case, a very effective Cointreau substitute for cocktails. Triple sec is sharp, and it isn’t meant for slow sipping. While sometimes you can have it neat or on the rocks, Cointreau is also sharp, though flavorful, and is also mostly used for cocktails. 

Being that Cointreau is a fancy kind of triple sec, it is only natural that triple sec is an excellent substitute for Cointreau since you can use the same amounts in the same cocktails.

Moreover, the triple sec has a lower alcohol content than Cointreau, and therefore sing, the same amount of triple sec as that of Cointreau in a cocktail may result in a milder drink. 

However, don’t increase the triple sec amount in the cocktail in an effort to make up for the alcohol amount of the Cointreau, as it doesn’t work that way. Increasing the dosage of the triple sec will result in a sharp-favored cocktail, and unless that is what you are looking for, don’t tamper with the dosage. 

2. Grand Marnier


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Grand Marnier and Cointreau are known as the best substitutes for one another. They have the same alcohol percentage, 40%, very similar viscosity, and are also pretty close in taste. Although Grand Marnier is a cognac and Cointreau is a triple sec liqueur, they can substitute for one another anytime. 

You don’t need to adjust the quantity of Grand Marnier in a Cointreau cocktail, as the alcohol content is the same, and the taste is pretty close. However, if you are in the mood for slow sipping, Grand Marnier will do a way better job than Cointreau, as it is smoother and far more gentle than Cointreau. 

More: 10 Best Grand Marnier Substitutes

3. Curacao

Orange CuracaoCuracao is a famous addition to cocktails and will do an excellent job as a substitute for Cointreau. It is a very soft drink you can drink neat or on the rocks, and unlike the Cointreau, it is considered moderate regarding its alcohol amount. 

Curacao contains 25% alcohol, so when substituting Cointreau with curacao, you can quickly increase the curacao amount to compensate for its mildness. Flavor-wise, curacao is not as intense as Cointreau, but it is delicious. 

Curacao tastes like orange peel; it is refreshing and a little edgy. Cointreau tastes sharper and is more intense than curacao. Therefore, when you substitute Cointreau for curacao in a cocktail, add a little more curacao than you would add Cointreau. 

If the cocktail calls for one part Cointreau, add one and a half part curacao. You can, of course, add more after you try your drink, but always start slowly. 

More: 10 Best Orange Curacao Substitutes

4. Combier Liqueur d’Orange 


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Combier Liqueur d’Orange is an orange liqueur made by distilling orange peels. It tastes almost as intensive as Cointreau and is one of the best substitutes for it. It is a high-quality French liqueur and is typically slightly cheaper than Cointreau. 

Liqueurs are usually interchangeable, and there is no need to adjust the quantity, as they result in nearly the same drink. However, due to its gentler flavor, your cocktail will be slightly milder with Combier Liqueur d’Orange than with Cointreau. 

Both Combier Liqueur d’Orange and Cointreau have the same alcohol percentage of 40%, so the ratios remain precisely the same. If you want to intensify the flavor, don’t add more Combier Liqueur d’Orange, but try working with an orange extract instead. 

5. Luxardo Triplum


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Luxardo Triplum is known as the cheaper version of Cointreau. Luxardo Triplum is basically triple sec distilled by Luxardo, which is all the more reason to use it as a substitute for Cointreau since they fall under the same category. So if you are looking to substitute Cointreau only due to financial reasons, Luxardo Triplum should be your solution. 

Luxardo is intensely flavored and known for its incredible natural, fresh, and delightful aroma. It is often used as a side sipper with wine, as it intensifies the taste of wine. It is a little drier than Cointreau, but only by a pinch, so you probably won’t even notice. 

In a cocktail, Luxardo Triplum doubles as Cointreau perfectly, and the ratios don’t change, so use the same amount of Luxardo Triplum as that of the Cointreau. The alcohol content of Luxardo Triplum is nearly the same as that of Cointreau, i.e., just one percent lower, 39%. 

6. Bols 

Dating from five centuries ago, Bols is a very affordable orange liqueur. Priced at only $10 per bottle, you would think that it is some low-shelf alcohol, but it isn’t bad at all. Naturally, it isn’t as high quality as Cointreau, but it will do just fine, especially if you are planning a cocktail party and need a large quantity. 

As a sipper, Bols is not nearly as good as Cointreau. Although Cointreau is not the perfect sipper, you can still pull it off with some ice. On the other hand, Bols is way too sharp and aggressive for slow sipping. Therefore if you are looking to substitute Cointreau for slow sipping, Bols shouldn’t be your choice. 

On the other hand, Bols does a great job as a Cointreau substitute for cocktails. It has an intense orange flavor, and it mixes very well with other cocktail ingredients. However, it does have a note of artificial flavor, so you shouldn’t use too much of it. 

Due to the intensity of its taste, I would recommend you use Bols in an amount that is a quarter lesser than the amount of Cointreau that you would use. Try the cocktail, see if it fits, and adjust the Bols amount accordingly. 

Bols contains a significantly lesser amount of alcohol than Cointreau, only 17%, meaning that your cocktail will be milder. However, don’t try to make up for the alcohol amount by adding more Bols. Instead, add more of the other alcohols you have at your disposal, hopefully of good quality, or have a few more cocktails if you want to get a bit woozy sooner. 

7. Patron Citronge 

Although Patron Citronge works instead of Cointreau in other cocktails, too, it is the best Cointreau for margaritas. It is a well-known fact that nothing can make a margarita as delicious as Cointreau does, but Patron Citronge is the next best thing. 

Patron Citronge is a premium drink made by the Mexican distillery Patron, known for the production of premium tequila. It is made from several kinds of orange peels, and it tastes simply heavenly. If you like Cointreau, you will definitely love Patron Citronge. 

Both Patron Citronge and Cointreau have the same alcohol percentages, i.e., 40%, so feel free to use the same amount of Patron Citronge as that of Cointreau. Not only in margaritas but in other cocktails, too, Patron Citronge works great as a Cointreau substitute. 

8. Orange Extract

Orange Extract If you need a Cointreau substitute only for the taste, leaving out the alcohol, you can use the orange extract to give your cocktail an orangey flavor. It won’t substitute entirely for Cointreau, but it will capture the essence of the flavor. 

If you use the orange extract as a substitute for Cointreau, whereby you also want to substitute for the alcohol content, combine the orange extract with brandy. The fruitiness of the brandy will mash up nicely with the orange extract giving you a result very similar to Cointreau. 

The amount of the brandy is the same as the amount of Cointreau would be, so you don’t have to do any calculations here. However, be careful with the orange extract as it is a very potent ingredient. 

Start with a drop of orange extract and adjust further after you try the drink.

9. Orange Juice

Orange juiceOrange juice is a good substitute for Cointreau if you want to substitute for the flavor, but you need an additional ingredient if you want to substitute for the alcohol amount. Just two tbsps. of orange juice will do nicely in whichever cocktail you need it as a substitute. 

Substitute for the alcohol using brandy or triple sec. Don’t change the brandy or triple sec amounts, and use the same doses as those of the Cointreau. If you use triple sec, your cocktail will be milder in alcohol, but don’t increase the triple sec amount, as it doesn’t work that way. 

Increasing the triple sec amount will make the cocktail taste more bitter, so accept the fact that your cocktail won’t be as strong and enjoy it as it is. 

The alcohol percentage of brandy varies from 35% to 60%. Therefore you need to check it out first before adding it to the cocktail. If the brandy has up to 40% alcohol, use the same amount of brandy as you would do with the Cointreau. However, if your brandy is stronger in alcohol, reduce the amount by a quarter. 

10. Orange Zest 

Orange Zest Orange zest is yet another great substitute for Cointreau, but if you want the alcohol, you need to combine it with something. Orange zest releases an intense flavor and a very strong aroma. Some love it, and some hate it, as there is no middle with orange zest. 

In alcohol-free cocktails, it delivers the sensation of the Cointreau and the citrus intensity it has. However, in alcoholic cocktails, orange zest needs to be supplemented with alcohol to double for Cointreau. 

Although brandy and triple sec work well, I would recommend combining orange zest with flavorless vodka to deliver the most similar effect of the Cointreau as possible. Vodka is a sharp spirit, and orange zest is a sharp ingredient. 

Both will balance out nicely, creating a decent Cointreau substitute. Vodka has the same alcohol percentage as Cointreau but is much sharper and more aggressive in taste. Therefore reduce the amount of vodka by a quarter. If you add one part of Cointreau, you should add three-quarters of that quantity of vodka. 

11. Orange Liqueur 


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Any orange liqueur would do a great job substituting for Cointreau. Since Cointreau is a triple sec liqueur, it shares many similarities with orange liqueurs, from taste to aroma, to intensity and viscosity. 

Orange liqueurs, in general, have a lesser alcohol percentage than Cointreau. They also tend to be sweeter and a little more intense. Depending on the quality of the liqueur, it could have a little bit of an artificial flavor note. 

Therefore, when substituting Cointreau with a cheaper orange liqueur, reduce the amount of the liqueur by a quarter. Even though the alcohol amount of the orange liqueur is lower than that of the Cointreau, the flavor could bother you. 

Start with a lesser amount and see how it goes; you can always add more. 

12. Dry Orange Curacao


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Incredibly flavorful and aromatic, dry orange curacao is a complex drink you can mix into a cocktail or enjoy it neat or on the rocks. It tastes similar to aged cognac, so you can imagine how well it substitutes for Cointreau. 

Its alcohol amount is 40%, which is the same as that of the Cointreau, meaning that you can use the same amount of dry orange curacao as Cointreau. Some even prefer using dry orange curacao and treat Cointreau as a suitable substitute. 

13. Spiced Rum 


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Spiced rum is nothing more than rum spiced with herbs and spices. It has a very natural and herbal taste and aroma and understated but noticeable notes of orange and vanilla. It may not taste like orange as expressively as Cointreau, but it does work great as a Cointreau substitute for cocktails. 

If you are in the mood to experiment, substitute Cointreau for spiced rum and enjoy a slightly different result. Your cocktail won’t be as orange-flavored as it would be if you used Cointreau, but it is definitely worth making. 

The spiced rum alcohol percentage is 35%, so a bit lower than that of the Cointreau, so feel free to increase the amount of rum by a quarter. However, rum has a lower viscosity than Cointreau, so you might notice that it is a bit sharper. 

What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Cointreau? 

The best substitute for Cointreau is Grand Marnier. It substitutes for the flavor, viscosity, texture, and alcohol amount. Other good substitutes for Cointreau are orange extract or orange zest, Bols, spiced rum, triple sec, orange liqueurs, brandy, or vodka combined with orange zest or juice and curacao. 

Can I Use Triple Sec in Place for Cointreau? 

Yes, you can absolutely use triple sec instead of Cointreau. Cointreau is higher in alcohol than a triple sec, but triple sec is sharper in taste. Cointreau is a type of triple sec but a little stronger, more intense, and fancier. 

Therefore when using triple sec as a Cointreau substitute, it is best not to increase the triple sec amount. Use the same triple sec amount as the Cointreau in whichever cocktail you are making. 

Neither triple sec nor Cointreau are meant for slow sipping, but triple sec is much sharper. While you could enjoy Cointreau neat or on the rocks, triple sec is meant for cocktails. 

What Can I Use Instead of Orange Liqueur? 

Cointreau, triple sec, orange-flavored vodka, orange extract, orange juice/zest, or Grand Marnier are all excellent substitutes for orange liqueur. Depending on your taste and expectations and the intensity you would like to achieve, you can combine these substitutes to get the best possible results.

Substitute for Cointreau in Margarita? 

Although Cointreau is known as the best alcohol for margaritas, Patron Citronge is a close second. Similar in taste, texture, and alcohol percentage, Patron Citronge is the best substitute for Cointreau for margaritas. 

The more experienced drinkers may notice the difference, but if you are an occasional margarita enthusiast, you may not even know that the Cointreau has been substituted for Patron Citronge. 

Substitute for Cointreau in Cosmopolitan? 

The best substitute for Cointreau in Cosmopolitan is Grand Marnier. Known as the best substitute for Cointreau in general, Grand Marnier works exceptionally well instead of Cointreau in margaritas. 

Although Grand Marnier is a cognac, and Cointreau is a triple sec orange liqueur, they are highly compatible and famously interchangeable. 

Grand Marnier delivers the freshness and intensity of the Cointreau, having the same alcohol amount. Moreover, you can use the same quantitates and enjoy them in the same cocktails. 

Is Cointreau Necessary in Margarita? 

Cointreau is definitely the best choice for a margarita, but it would be a margarita even without it. Therefore, Cointreau is not necessary to make a margarita, but it does deliver the best flavor and consistency. 

To make a margarita, you can also use Grand Marnier, Patron Citrongo, as well as regular triple sec. 

Is Triple Sec and Cointreau the Same Thing? 

Although Cointreau is a type of triple sec, it isn’t the same thing as triple sec. Cointreau is a fancier and smoother than triple sec and is far more flavorful and aromatic. They have the same application and are primarily found in cocktails rather than slow sipping glasses. 

Triple sec is lower in alcohol but more aggressive than Cointreau, while Cointreau is higher in alcohol percentage but gentler than triple sec. 

Chad Smith

Meet Chad Smith, a seasoned bartender with a passion for mixology. He's the founder of Tin Roof Drink Community, a blog where he shares expert tips, creative recipes, and fosters a vibrant community of cocktail enthusiasts and aspiring bartenders. Join Chad as he takes you on a flavorful journey through the world of drinks. Cheers!

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