What is Triple Sec?

Discover what ingredients are in triple sec, how it’s made, where it gets its name, and how much alcohol to expect in this popular liqueur.

What Is Triple Sec?

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Do you love triple sec added to your cocktails, but have always wondered what it is and what it’s made from?

If you love oranges, you’ll love triple sec. This popular liqueur is in some of the most famous cocktails in the world, including margaritas and Cosmopolitans. Find out the basics of this delicious orange liqueur and get all your questions answered about it.

What is triple sec?

Triple sec is an orange flavored liqueur that is sweet and clear. It’s used in many mixed drinks, and contains about 15 to 40 percent alcohol by volume. 

What is triple sec made from?

Triple sec is made by infusing alcohol, generally made from beet sugar, with the peels from bitter not-quite-ripened orange peels during the maceration process. 

The orange flavor comes from the essential oils that come out while the oranges and the alcohol combine for a few days. The liqueur is then distilled, and may be completed there or more beet sugar, water, or alcohol may be added.

Where Does Triple Sec Get Its Name?

Where does triple sec get its name?

Triple sec liqueur originated in France, as evidenced by its name. “Sec” in French means dry, making this a “triple dry” liqueur. 

Some say the “triple” in triple sec references the distillation process, and that this liqueur is distilled three times.

Others say that the “triple” in triple sec is in reference to three types of bitter orange peels that are added to the liqueur to give it its flavor. The three types of peels are dried bitter peels, dried sweet peels, and fresh sweet peels.

No one truly knows where the name comes from, but these are the two theories that make the most sense.

What kind of alcohol is triple sec?

Triple sec is generally made using beet sugar rather than a grain like many other liquors. This beet sugar creates a neutral flavored alcohol that provides the perfect background for adding flavoring, like orange peels, to it. 

What can be substituted for triple sec?

If you are out of triple sec and looking for a substitute, try another orange liqueur in your cocktail recipe, like Cointreau or Grand Marnier. Both of these have a similar flavor, and can be used in the same way you would use triple sec in your drinks. 

What is the alcohol content of triple sec?

Depending on the brand that you purchase, you may find an alcohol content ranging from 15% to 40%. That’s a huge range, so let’s take a look at some popular brands a little more closely.

What is the best way to drink triple sec?

Triple sec is most often used in cocktails. Here are a few popular triple sec cocktails that you’re likely to find on menus at restaurants and bars:

  • Margarita
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Kamikaze
  • Man o’War
  • Bourbonella
  • Velvet Hammer
  • Cable Car
  • Orange Martini

Can I drink triple sec alone?

To each their own! Triple sec is most commonly used in cocktails and mixed drinks, however if you absolutely love the flavor of triple sec, you can certainly enjoy it on the rocks to your heart’s content! This liqueur is very sweet so a little will go a long way when it comes to pouring.

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