Let’s face it, most triple secs are cheap and uninspiring. Not only do you deserve a better liqueur, but your Margarita does as well. From Cognac-based orange liqueurs to grapefruit liqueurs, here are the five best substitutions for triple sec in your next Margarita. Your taco Tuesday will never be the same again.
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Created by Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle in 1880, this orange liqueur is made with a Cognac base and flavored with distilled essence of orange and sugar. Richer and more vanilla forward than triple sec, Grand Marnier adds color, weight and complexity to a Margarita. Technically called a Cadillac Margarita, this bright, orangey concoction is one of the best variations on the classic Sour.
This is quite possibly the greatest orange liqueur ever created, and in a Margarita, the spirit does wonders. A collaboration between cocktail historian David Wondrich and Pierre Ferrand’s Alexandre Gabriel, the curaçao is based on a 19th century recipe that uses 14 different botanicals, with dried bitter Seville oranges as the principal ingredient. The base is a combination of un-aged brandy and Cognac. Incredibly complex and layered, the spirit has a dry, tannic sharpness to it with notes of marzipan, vanilla, creamsicle, clove and oak. When making a Margarita with this liqueur, opt for a really good reposado tequila.
You wouldn’t think to use maraschino for a Margarita but the Italian cherry liqueur is phenomenal in the cocktail. With a velvety texture and an incredible taste and aroma, this liqueur gives the drink a unique twist that affects both its smell and its flavor. Beyond the bright cherry notes that it lends, the liqueur also gives the drink depth and softness. When making this Marg, be sure to use a vibrant, peppery blanco tequila as the base.
Also known as the ketchup of the liquor world, this French elderflower liqueur is a no-brainer in a Margarita. It lends the Mexican staple its sweetness, its intoxicating perfume and a verdant bouquet of wildflowers in bloom. While you could technically use a reposado tequila with St-Germain, it is best with more vegetal blanco tequilas that are somewhat gin-esque in flavor.
If you’ve ever had a Paloma, then you know why this liqueur works so well in a Margarita. Made with pink grapefruit zest, Giffard Pamplemousse gives the drink a subtle bitterness, flourishes of florality and the bright zing of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. Instead of using tequila, make this Margarita with an herbal, savory mezcal like Casamigos or Fidencio Clásico.