Cointreau vs Grand Marnier

Cointreau vs Grand Marnier: what’s the difference? These orange liqueurs are used in many popular drinks. So, which one should you use in your favorite cocktail recipes?

Which one makes a perfect Margarita?

Which tastes better in a Cosmopolitan Cocktail?

And what about Cointreau vs Triple Sec? Read more on that HERE.

Here’s everything you need to know:

What are the main differences?

Cointreau and Grand Marnier are both orange liqueurs. But, there are a few key differences:


  • What is it?: Cointreau (pronounced KWAN-troh) is a clear, premium orange-flavored liqueur made from sweet and bitter orange peels. It is a good quality brand of triple sec. The name Cointreau translates to triple dry in French.
  • Flavor: Cointreau has notes of warm spices and has a nice balance between sweet and bitter. It has a much more straightforward orange flavor than Grand Marnier, and has a smoother, clean finish. Because of this, it is sometimes consumed as an apéritif or digestif.
  • Price: Cointreau is less expensive than Grand Marnier. A 750ml bottle costs between $30-35.
  • Alcohol content: Cointreau is 40% ABV. The same as Grand Marnier.

Grand Marnier

  • What is it?: Grand Marnier is from France and features a blend of cognac and triple sec.
  • Flavor: Grand Marnier has a more complex flavor profile than Cointreau. It has oaky, vanilla notes, and a heavier mouth feel.
  • Price: Grand Marnier is more expensive than Cointreau. A 750ml bottle costs between $35-45.
  • Alcohol content: Grand Marnier is 40% ABV. The same as Cointreau.
Bottle of Grand Marnier next to bottle of Triple Sec.

In summary

Cointreau has a cleaner, more straightforward orange flavor than Grand Marnier, which is a blend of cognac and orange. Grand Marnier is more complex with notes of oak and vanilla, and is even delicious sipped on its own. However, it’s easy to substitute one for the other in cocktail recipes.

Cointreau vs Grand Marnier: When to use them?

  • Cointreau is a little less expensive, but it has a delicious, pronounced “clean” citrus aroma which I love. I use it in most of my cocktail recipes (rather than Triple Sec or Grand Marnier), especially when I’m serving a drink that is served straight up – like this Cosmopolitan.
  • Because Grand Marnier is more expensive, and also more complex, I tend to reserve it for those times when I’m making more high-end cocktails like a Cadillac Margarita. It’s also delicious warmed in a snifter and sipped on during the cold winter months.


Does Grand Marnier taste like Cointreau?

Grand Marnier is a bit more complex than Cointreau. It has more notes of vanilla and oak, rather than a straight orange flavor.

Is Grand Marnier or Cointreau better in a margarita?

Both are great! Grand Marnier is a bit more complex in flavor and is great for making high-end cocktails, like a Cadillac Margarita.

Is Grand Marnier stronger than Cointreau?

No. Cointreau and Garand Marnier are both 40% ABV.

What is a good substitute for Cointreau?

You can substitute Triple Sec or Grand Marnier for Cointreau in cocktail recipes.

Can you use Grand Marnier instead of Cointreau in a Cosmopolitan?

Definitely! Both will work in this cranberry-citrus cocktail.

Hand holding bottle of Grand Marnier.

Cointreau and Grand Marnier Cocktails

Which popular cocktails use Cointreau or Grand Marnier? Here are a few famous Cointreau drinks and Grand Marnier cocktails to try out:

  • Cosmopolitan CocktailThis fruity and fun Cosmopolitan Cocktail is legendary for good reason! Made with vodka, cranberry juice, and cointreau, the tart and citrusy flavors are delightfully refreshing and dangerously easy to drink.
  • Mai TaiThis classic Mai Tai is a Hawaiian favorite. This simple drink recipe comes with easy instructions for making a single cocktail or a pitcher – perfect for parties!
  • Spicy Grapefruit MargaritaThis Grapefruit Spicy Margarita recipe is perfect for sipping on summer days! Made with just 5-ingredients!
  • Grilled Pineapple MargaritaThis Grilled Pineapple Margarita is the perfect blend of sweet, spicy & smoky. Caramelized pineapple, spicy jalapeno & a splash of vanilla make it delicious.

What about Triple Sec? Read more about that here.

What about Orange Curacao? Read more about that here.

More Liquor Guides

Hand holding bottle of Cointreau.

Cointreau vs Grand Marnier: What’s the Difference?

Try this Cosmopolitan Cocktail recipe! Tart, tangy & delicious. Made with vodka, cranberry juice, lime & Cointreau OR Grand Marnier.
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 cocktail


  • 1 ½ ounces vodka (or citron vodka)
  • ¾ ounce 100% cranberry juice (unsweetened)
  • ¾ ounce Cointreau (triple sec or Grand Marnier)
  • ½ ounce lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup (¼ oz.)

To Garnish:

  • Lime wheel


  • Place the vodka, cranberry juice, cointreau, lime juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake 30 seconds.
  • Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lime wheel, if desired.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!


Cocktail Shaker


Calories: 196kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 7mg | Potassium: 44mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 17IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg

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