Cointreau Substitutes – The 6 Best Alternatives

If you’re a lover of fancy alcoholic drinks, then you’ll have definitely come across Cointreau in your time.

This famous French brand of triple sec liqueur offers a delicious orange-flavored drink that you can enjoy on its own, as an apéretif or digestif, or as part of one of many popular cocktails – where it’s a key ingredient!

Cointreau is certainly a great liqueur with plenty of uses, but what if you can’t find any in your local grocery store or liquor store?

Being such a popular drink, it’s not out of the question that its spot on the shelves could be empty. So what can you do? Miss out on mixing that cocktail that needed it?

Thankfully, you don’t have to miss out! Cointreau may be a pretty unique drink, but there are a range of great alternatives that you can enjoy in its place, all of which give you similar results to the real drink itself.

In our handy guide below, we’ve got the 6 best Cointreau substitutes.

Whether you’re enjoying them on their own responsibly, or you’re mixing it into a well-known cocktail, these 6 alternatives will give you a flavor and feeling very close to Cointreau itself. Read on!

Cointreau Substitutes

What Is Cointreau?

Before we get onto the list of 6 great Cointreau alternatives, it’s worth looking more in-depth at just what Cointreau is, so you have a better understanding of why somebody would want to try and replicate its best qualities.

Created in 1849, Cointreau is an extremely popular and well-known brand of French triple sec liqueur with a distinct orange flavoring to it.

This flavoring really makes it stand out and it’s achieved from a mixture of bitter and sweet orange peels. That’s all we really know about the recipe for Cointreau, though, since the recipe has been a secret for the 174 years that the drink has been around. 

Cointreau is enjoyed both on its own and in drinks. On its own, people enjoy it as an apéretif (before a meal) and a digestif (after a meal). Meanwhile, it’s a key ingredient in a handful of very popular cocktails, such as the Cosmopolitan or the Margarita.

Cointreau is a great drink for all the uses we just outlined above, but if you can’t find some on your local store shelf then these 6 great substitutes are perfect replacements that will give you very similar effects!

1. Aperol

We’re starting our list off with Aperol, a popular brand of apéretif that comes from Italy.

Interestingly, this drink has an orange hue to it, a characteristic that some wrongly attribute to Cointreau! While Cointreau is orange flavored, and comes in an orange bottle, its liquid is actually colorless. The more you know!

Aperol has a notably bitter flavor to it, which is due to its ingredients. The drink is made of rhubarb, cinchona, and gentian, all of which can have pretty bitter flavor profiles to them.

Cointreau itself has a fairly bitter taste, but one that’s mixed with sweetness and has hints of warm spice to it.

As a result, Aperol may not give you entirely the same feeling of it, but it does give you a bitterness that will benefit anything it’s added to – all without overwhelming the flavor either. 

2. Curaçao

Our next pick for great Cointreau substitutes is Curaçao, a popular type of liqueur that’s been enjoyed in various forms since the 18th century. 

Curaçao is flavored with some dried peel of an orange laraha fruit, which is a bitter type of citrus fruit grown on the island of Curaçao – giving it its name!

It also uses the peel of some sweet oranges too. The liqueur comes in many different forms and colors, but the most popular ones are orange or blue. 

Since Curaçao uses both bitter and sweet oranges to make it, it gives it a fairly similar taste to the orange-flavored Cointreau, which strikes a pleasant balance between bitter and sweet itself. Curaçao is sharp and citrus-heavy, tasting like a particularly tart orange.

It doesn’t have an identical flavor to Cointreau by any means, but using it in place of the famous French drink will still result in a delicious drink that’s similar to the Cointreau original.

3. Grand Marnier

Our next pick is Grand Marnier, a brand of orange-flavored liqueur that comes from France. Wait, isn’t that the description for Cointreau?! Exactly, which is why Grand Marnier is one of the best substitutes for that other famous French drink.

The flavor of Grand Marnier is more on the sweet side, with only subtle hints of bitter orange in it.

This means that grand Marnier is actually notably sweeter than Cointreau is, so keep that in mind when using it. If you’re using it for a recipe that shouldn’t be too sweet, this may not be the best substitute to achieve that, so pick another from our list!

Grand Mariner is made from a mixture of Cognac brandy, sugar, and the distilled essence of bitter orange. Naturally, the bitter orange flavor comes from the oranges, but the sugar makes it as sweet as it is.

It’s a drink that’s popularly used for making specific cocktails, but is also added to some desserts.

4. Campari

Our next choice is Campari, a popular brand of Italian alcoholic liqueur.

Campari has a bitter flavor to it, with a strong sense of citrus and even spice-forward notes, such as cinnamon and clove.

Since it has a citrus flavoring, it’s a good replacement for Cointreau, which is orange flavored. With that being said, quite what citrus it uses is unknown, because the company has only ever revealed that it contains water and alcohol.

Some feel the citrus flavor is closer to something like watermelon, so this isn’t going to be an exact substitute for Cointreau. However, Campari has a bold flavor, and its spicy elements are a welcome addition that will improve whatever you add it to. 

5. Luxardo Triplum

This luxurious sounding drink is a fantastic substitute for Cointreau, since it’s also an orange-flavored triple sec drink. 

The drink is made by distilling the dried peel of three different types of citrus fruit: sweet oranges, mandarins, and curaçao.

The result of these three key ingredients is a flavor that’s balanced between bitterness and sweetness, much like the taste that’s offered by Cointreau!

Admittedly, though, Luxardo Triplum is a drier drink than Cointreau, and it has a floral hint to it that the other drink doesn’t have. With that being said, it works perfectly well as a Cointreau substitute, offering a similar taste with delicious additions.

6. Orange Juice

We’re finishing our list with a substitute you might not have expected: orange juice! 

Obviously, this isn’t going to give you the alcoholic edge that Cointreau would to your drinks. However, this makes it the ideal substitute for people who want a similar flavor, but are trying to cut back on their alcohol intake. 

Naturally, it’s got a great citrus taste with a subtle hint of tanginess.

Final Thoughts

Cointreau gives you a delicious orange flavoring, but the 6 great drinks on our list will make for great substitutes whenever you can’t get hold of Cointreau itself!

Cointreau Substitutes – The 6 Best Alternatives

Recipe by AubreyCourse: Substitutes


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Cooking time






  • Aperol

  • Curaçao

  • Grand Marnier

  • Campari

  • Luxardo Triplum

  • Orange Juice


  • Decide on what substitute you need
  • Pick a substitute from the list above
  • Read what you need to substitute with
  • Create the recipe and enjoy
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