Cointreau: the secrets of a classic liqueur that’s a cocktail favourite

Cointreau: the secrets of a classic liqueur that’s a cocktail favourite

It’s the world's best known French Triple Sec with an intense, full-bodied and unmistakable orange flavour. But do you know what Cointreau is? We’ll let you in on all the secrets of this delicious liqueur, a key ingredient in lots of perfect cocktails. 

What is Cointreau? 

Cointreau is a classic liqueur distilled in red copper stills with the fresh and dried peel, flowers and oils of African, Spanish and Brazilian oranges, together with spices, water, sugar and alcohol. The oranges are first left to macerate in alcohol and then distilled to exalt all the primary flavour of citrus fruit. 

Distillation also results in an intense, zesty and heady aroma of citrus in every form, from the peel to the juice, flowers and essential oils. It is a Triple Sec, a sweet liqueur (obtained through triple distillation) flavoured with orange and perfect for enhancing and sweetening a wide range of claswsic cocktails.

  1. The flavour of Cointreau
  2. How to use Cointreau
  3. The Cointreau recipe
  4. The alcohol content of Cointreau
  5. The calories in Cointreau
  6. Cointreau in cocktails

Cointreau cocktails

The Flavour of Cointreau

As well as its intense orange aroma, Cointreau also has distinct notes of orange blossom and orange blossom honey on the nose. There is also a light and delicately spicy hint of nutmeg and vanilla. The flavour of Cointreau is irresistible: as well as citrus it offers notes of marmalade, pepper, mace and a hint of mint on the palate. 

How to Use Cointreau

What is Cointreau used for? This extremely versatile ingredient is essential for creating cocktail classics like the Margarita, Cosmopolitan and Mai Tai. It can also be served alone, straight or on the rocks as a digestif, or as an aperitif, by simply adding soda and orange or lime juice.

The Cointreau Recipe

The French recipe for Cointreau includes: 

  • Untreated oranges with peel rich in essential oils 
  • Orange blossom
  • Alcohol
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Cloves (for a hint of spice)

The Alcohol Content of Cointreau

Cointreau is 40% ABV.

The Calories in Cointreau

Cointreau contains about 64 calories per 40 ml (a small glass). 

Cointreau Cocktails

Which cocktails contain the unique flavour of Cointreau? Here are the most popular:


A true legend in the world of mixology, this masterpiece encapsulates the flavours and aromas of the warm Mexican coasts and Cointreau accompanies Tequila, lime syrup and organic citric acid. Try the NIO Cocktails recipe!

Margarita cocktail


A warming, enveloping cornerstone of mixology, an explosion of flavour that’s perfect for relaxing moments before or after dinner. NIO Cocktails Sidecar includes Cointreau, which is the perfect partner for Brandy ST Remy XO, Giffard Lime syrup and organic citric acid. Take it to all your aperitifs!

Sidecar cocktail


A cocktail that embodies absolute glamour, the perfect aperitif for all seasons! NIO Cocktails Cosmopolitan is made with Cointreau, Ketel One Vodka, Toschi blueberry syrup and organic citric acid. Impress all your friends with the best ready-to-share Cosmopolitan!


Mai Tai 

The King of Tiki cocktails: a velvety, tasty Mai Tai is a must-have in your very cocktail bar. The NIO Cocktails recipe includes Cointreau, Ron Colón Salvadoreño rum, Monin orgeat syrup and lime citric acid. 

Mai Tai cocktail

White Lady

The father of many cocktails, just mix Cointreau, gin and lime juice.


A cocktail with a name that gives a strong hint of its intensity. The classic ingredients are Cointreau, vodka and lime juice. 

Blue Angel

A bright blue symbol of the '80s and '90s. The recipe includes Cointreau, gin and blue curaçao. 

Create a NIO Cocktails box with your favourite Cointreau-based drinks!