Your Quick Guide To Orange Liqueurs
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Orange liqueurs are a broad category of distilled beverages that are flavoured with citrus fruit. Most are sweet, and some have a neutral grain base, while others have a liquor-like brandy in them. There are numerous orange liqueurs available, and they are made all over the world, including in the Caribbean, the Netherlands, France, and Italy. Orange liqueurs are the most commonly used liqueurs on the market, making them essential for a well-stocked bar.

Orange liqueur is a sweetened distilled alcohol with orange flavouring. The methods of production employed differ depending on the brand and style. Orange liqueurs can be made with neutral grain alcohol (similar to vodka), rum, or brandy as a base. The orange flavour is frequently derived from dried orange peels or orange essential oil, however, this is not always the case. They typically range in alcohol content from 30% to 40% ABV. Orange liqueurs are classified into three types: curaçao, triple sec, and brandy-based. There are some brands that do not fit into any of these categories. These may include a specific orange variety, be a bitter (rather than sweet) liqueur, or include extra components such as herbs, spices, or artificial flavours.


Curaçao is a traditional Curaçao product prepared from pot-stilled brandy and scented with dried peels of Curaçao oranges. Spanish colonisers brought these oranges to Curaçao as Valencia oranges. However, the Valencia orange did not adapt well to Curaçao's arid climate, and the oranges grew bitter and inedible over time. The plants grew wild, but someone—unclear it's who—discovered that drying the skin of a Curaçao orange in the sun generated a pleasantly scented aroma. By 1896, Curaçao distillers were adding flavour and aroma to their distilled products with the peels of the Curaçao orange.

Triple sec

Triple sec was invented in France. It was originally brewed with less sugar than curaçao, hence the term "sec," which means "dry." Nobody knows for definite where the term "triple" originated. Triple sec is not, as some claim, triple-distilled, nor is it three times as dry as curaçao or other liqueurs. The most logical explanation is that "triple" was simply a marketing ploy to hype up new products while demeaning the competition.


Many of the earliest curaçaos were made with brandy or rum, and a few orange liqueurs still contain brandy or Cognac. The most well-known is Grand Marnier, a French liqueur that was formerly known as "Curaçao Marnier." It is made with Cognac, is popular among bartenders, and may be consumed on its own. Gran Gala, its Italian counterpart, has a brandy basis and is of comparable quality. Both liqueurs have an alcohol content of 80 proof.