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Triple sec

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Triple sec
Country of origin France
Introduced19th century
Alcohol by volume 20% to 40%
  • Clear
  • golden
  • blue

Triple sec is an orange-flavoured liqueur that originated in France. It usually contains 20–40% alcohol by volume.[1]

Triple sec is rarely consumed neat, but is used in preparing many mixed drinks such as margaritas, cosmopolitans, sidecars, Long Island iced teas, and mai tais.


The origin of the name "triple sec" is disputed. The term is French and composed of triple, with the same meaning as in English, and sec, the French word for "dry". Some sources claim it comes from a triple distillation process used to create the liqueur,[1][2] but others say that a triple distillation is not used.[3][4] Cointreau, a brand of triple sec, is reported to have invented the term based on the three types of orange peels used in the liqueur, although other reports have Cointreau claim the triple to mean "three times the flavour of Curaçaos."[1][5][6]


Triple sec has been popular for more than 150 years. The Dutch East India Company created orange liqueurs by steeping dried orange peels from places such as the island of Curaçao.[1] Unlike the modern-day triple sec, which contain only the flavor of orange peel, the Dutch version includes herbs and spices, and comes in a variety of colors such as clear, orange, or blue.[1]

The Combier distillery claims that Jean-Baptiste Combier and his wife Josephine invented triple sec in 1834, in their kitchen in Saumur, France.[7] Orange liqueur was rising in popularity after the Dutch introduced Curaçao, and the Combiers sought to create a version that would be true to the orange fruit, they wanted it to be crisp and clean, with orange essential oils as the main feature. To achieve this, the Combier family used bitter oranges that were native to Haiti, and sweet Valencia oranges to balance the flavor.[8] The liqueur was made by sun-drying the various orange peels. After at least 48 hours, they would begin distilling this mixture in copper pots. Lastly, they would put them through a third distillation, to purify the flavor.[8]

In 1875, Cointreau created its version of triple sec and calls itself one of the most popular brands.[9] Triple sec gained popularity and was widely known by 1878; at the Exposition Universelle of 1878 in Paris, several distillers were offering "Curaço [sic] triple sec", as well as "Curaço doux".[10]


Triple sec is usually made from a spirit derived from sugar beet (used because of its neutral flavor) in which orange peel is steeped, the oranges having been harvested when their skin was still green and they had not fully ripened, so the essential oils remained in the skin rather than the flesh of the fruit. The spirit is redistilled and mixed with more neutral spirit, water, and powdered beet sugar resulting in the final liqueur. This process creates a spirit that has a very strong and distinct orange flavor.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Triple sec liqueurs". www.diffordsguide.com. Retrieved 2022-01-20.
  2. ^ "Triple Sec". Bar None Drinks. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  3. ^ McKirdy, Tim (3 December 2021). "What's the Difference Between Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Curaçao, and Triple Sec?". VinePair. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  4. ^ "The Insider's Guide to Triple Sec". Cocktail Builder. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  5. ^ "Difference Between Curaçao, Triple Sec & Orange Liqueur Explained". Senior & Co. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  6. ^ "[ Spiritueux Magazine ] Triple sec ou liqueur d'orange, quelle est la différence entre un Cointreau et un Grand Marnier ?". Retrieved 2023-10-27.
  7. ^ "Original Combier". Combier. Archived from the original on 31 July 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  8. ^ a b "The Combier Story // History // Combier Liqueurs". www.combierusa.com. Retrieved 2021-05-12.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Cointreau". Rémy Cointreau. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  10. ^ The Lancet Analytical Commission, "Report on the Food Products exhibited in the French and English Departments of the Universal Exhibition of Paris", The Lancet, 21 September 1878, p. 417f.