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?
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 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.
- What is it?: Grand Marnier is a French blend of cognac and triple sec.
- Flavor: Grand Marnier has a more complex flavor 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.
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.
Cointreau vs Grand Marnier: when to use them?
- Cointreau is a little less expensive, but it has a delicious, pronounced “clean” orange flavor 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.
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 Cocktail – This 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 Tai – This 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 Margarita – This Grapefruit Spicy Margarita recipe is perfect for sipping on summer days! Made with just 5-ingredients!
- Grilled Pineapple Margarita – This 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.
Cointreau vs Grand Marnier
- 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.)
- 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.