Spirits & Liqueurs Liqueur

The 9 Best Orange Liqueurs of 2021

An essential ingredient in many of your favorite cocktails.

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Orange liqueur—simple as macerating some citrus with distillate, right? Believe it or not, it’s actually not that cut and dry. Within this niche category of liqueur, there are a few details you need to know before diving in.

First and foremost, orange liqueurs are a rather diverse group of spirits and are produced all over the world. While citrus flavoring is the thread that ties these liqueurs together, a variety of distillates are used as common bases, including but not limited to vodka, brandy, or rum. Popular production areas for citrus-based liqueurs include France, Italy, and the Caribbean islands. Most have an average ABV of 30-40%. Orange liqueurs get their citrus flavoring from various techniques, including maceration with dried orange peels or the addition of orange-based essential oils. In terms of flavor, orange liqueurs can range from bitter to sweet, as well as contain a variety of additional herbs, spices, or added flavorings. The three main types of orange liqueur are triple sec, Curaçao, and brandy-based. 

Still not sure where to start? We’ve done the work for you! Here is a handful of what we think are the best orange liqueurs to get right now. Grab your shakers and get ready for some flavor-packed education!

Best Overall: Cointreau

Cointreau

Image Source / Drizly

  • Region: Saint-Barthélemy-d'Anjou, France
  • ABV: 40% 
  • Tasting Notes: Pungent, Sweet, Slight spice

Produced in Saint-Barthélemy-d’Anjou, Cointreau is one of the most widely respected and recognized names in the world of orange liqueur. Crafted with sugar beet alcohol as its base, this unaged French triple sec is a jack of all trades, in that it makes for the perfect apéritif, digestif, or cocktail addition. If you’re only going to keep one orange liqueur on your bar cart, you really can’t go wrong here. (Note: Although the liqueur’s signature bottle is orange, the liquid inside is actually clear.) 

“If I could only choose one bottle and it needs to be my workhorse for making a wide variety of cocktails, I am probably reaching for a triple sec,” says Deke Dunne, head bartender at Allegory bar in Washington, DC. In the realm of versatility and price, triple secs like Cointreau tend to reign king.

Read Next: The Best Triple Sec and Orange Liqueurs

Best Budget: Bols Triple Sec

Bols Triple Sec 42 Proof

Image Source / Drizly

  • Region: Netherlands 
  • ABV: 21%
  • Tasting Notes: Fragrant, Citrus, Slightly Sweet

In short, triple sec is the French equivalent to Curaçao, though this bottling happens to be made in the Netherlands. Although triple sec is a commonly used term today (hence this Dutch bottle marketed as such), the liqueur’s definition technically implies that the spirit has been distilled three times. This affordable and accessible bottling from Bols is flavored with orange peel and citrus. For a go-to bottle to keep on hand at all times, this is your answer.

Best Easy to Find: Grand Marnier

Grand Marnier

Image Source / Drizly

  • Region: Cognac (Charente), France
  • ABV: 40%
  • Tasting Notes: Orange Marmalade, Hazelnut, Vanilla

This recognizable, easy-to-find bottle of orange liqueur was first produced in 1880 by Louis-Alexandre Marneir Lapostolle in France. It is made from a simple blend of cognac (brandy), sugar, and distilled essence of bitter orange, and is then aged in French oak casks. Expect flavors of orange marmalade, fresh citrus, vanilla, and hazelnut to jump from the liqueur’s refreshing palate. Sip solo or use in cocktails.

Best for Cocktail Creations: Combier Liqueur d’Orange

L'Original Combier Liqueur d'Orange

Image Source / Drizly

  • Region: Saumur, France
  • ABV: 40%
  • Tasting Notes: Bright, Clean, Fresh Citrus 

Deemed the world’s first triple sec, this OG, high-quality orange liqueur was first produced in 1834 by Jean-Baptiste and Josephine Combier in the heart of Saumur, France. This special liqueur errs on the sweeter side of things and is marked by bright and clean citrus flavors. 

“Combier Liqueur d'Orange is slightly more cost effective than some other brands, a tad sweeter, and holds up wonderfully in cocktails,” explains Dunne. One of his favorite cocktails to make at Allegory is the El Presidente, which features this versatile liqueur.

Read Next: The Best Maraschino Liqueurs 

Best for Margaritas: Patron Citronge Orange Liqueur

Patrón Citrónge Orange

Image Source / Drizly

  • Region: Jalisco, Mexico 
  • ABV: 40%
  • Tasting Notes: Sweet and Bitter Orange, Lasting Finish

Produced by Patron Tequila, this orange-flavored liqueur packs a serious punch (80 proof as opposed to the usual 70). The liqueur is produced from a neutral grain spirit base and is flavored with organic Jamaican and Haitian oranges. Mix with your favorite agave-based spirit and get ready to elevate your next #TacoTuesday at home.

Read Next: The Best Margarita Glasses

Best for Old Fashioneds: Grand Garonne

Grand Garonne

Image Source / Total Wine

  • Region: France
  • ABV: 40% 
  • Tasting Notes: Sweet, Full-Bodied, Long Lasting

Need a splash of orange liqueur to add to your Old Fashioneds at home? This cognac-based liqueur is a great place to start. Produced in France, this full-bodied and flavor-packed liqueur is sweet, refreshing, and undeniably long on the palate—plus, the budget-friendly price tag makes the deal all the sweeter.

Best for Sangria: Drillaud Orange Liqueur

*Packaging may vary Drillaud Orange Liqueur

Image Source / Drizly

  • Region: France
  • ABV: 35% 
  • Tasting Notes: Fresh Orange Peel, Savory, Flavor-Packed

No need to break the bank here! This savory, citrus-driven liqueur is perfect for mixing into your favorite at-home Sangria recipe. Drillaud uses French brandy as its base and is loaded with flavors of fresh orange peel. The liqueur finishes rather savory and strong on its own, making it the perfect pick for standing up against sweet, fruit-heavy Sangria ingredients.

Best for Gifting: Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao

Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao

Image Source / Drizly

  • Region: France
  • ABV: 40%
  • Tasting Notes: Orange Blossom, Candied Citrus, Marzipan 

Curaçao is believed to be the oldest style of orange liqueur on the market, originating on its eponymous island in the Caribbean. Curaçao is best known for its range of colors, including orange, blue, and clear.

This delicious bottle from Pierre Ferrand is perfect for the citrus lover in your life. Expect notes of orange blossom, candied citrus, and marzipan to reign king here. Dunne notes that if he’s looking for something juicy, complex, and dry for a stirred and boozy cocktail, he’ll generally reach for a dry Curaçao.

Best Off the Beaten Path: Agavero Orange Liqueur

Agavero Orange Tequila Liqueur

Image Source / Drizly

  • Region: Mexico
  • ABV: 32%
  • Tasting Notes: Sweet, Ripe Citrus, Agave

Unlike other orange liqueurs that are generally produced with neutral grain spirit as a base, this delicious Mexican bottling is produced with 100% tequila infused with orange and agave nectar. Expect notes of ripe citrus and an overall sweetness to dominate the palate here. Sip solo or mix into cocktails at home. This stuff is as fun as it gets!

Read Next: The Best Cocktail Books

Why Trust Liquor.com?

Vicki Denig is a wine and travel journalist based between New York and Paris. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators. Her work regularly appears on Liquor.com, Wine-Searcher, VinePair and more.

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