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Grand Marnier Cocktails With Cointreau

Since Chris gets a lot of questions about triple sec and the difference between brands, we’ve been working on a super thorough series of articles on Cointreau vs Grand Marnier lately.

These two top-shelf orange liqueurs are often confused for each, so we are trying to clear up some of the most common misconceptions. While both liqueurs offer a lovely orange flavor, they are not exactly the same styles of French liqueurs and therefore not interchangeable without a little modification.

Cointreau and Grand Marnier bottles with liquor in coupe glasses

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Grand Marnier is an orange Curaçao style liqueur made from cognac and bitter orange peels. On the other hand, Cointreau is a more traditional triple sec made from sugarbeet alcohol (considered a neutral spirit), as well as both sweet and bitter oranges.

If you’re curious, we have way more info about how each is made in this article.


Most classic cocktail recipes– like the Cosmopolitan cocktail and Mai Tai— and are made with Cointreau because it tends to be lighter, less sweet, and more versatile. It’s even likely you may only have Cointreau in your liquor cabinet. So if a recipe calls for the orange Cognac liqueur, Grand Marnier, can you just substitute Cointreau?

Yes, you can, but you’ll need to make a little bit of an adjustment to make up for the lost weight and sweetness. I’ve enlisted our in-house mixologist, Rob Harrah, to give you a few delicious recipes using Cointreau instead of Grand Marnier.



El Presidente aromatic whisky-based cocktail by vladyslava andriyenkovia unsplash

Photo by Vladyslava Andriyenko via


#1: El Presidente with Cointreau

“I have seen this cocktail done both ways – with Grand Marnier and with Cointreau – and it’s really good either way, but very different. With the Grand Marnier, the cocktail is richer and fuller, something I would drink in the winter. However, with the Cointreau, it is lighter with bright flavors but still brings a lot of depth while being something I can drink in the spring or fall.” –Rob Harrah


  • 1 ½ oz White Rum
  • ¾ oz Dry Vermouth
  • ¼ oz Cointreau
  • 2 dashes of Grenadine


1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice.

2. Use your bar spoon to mix for 10-15 seconds to stir and dilute.

3. Use a Julep strainer (or Hawthorne) to strain your drink into a coupe glass or Martini glass.

4. Garnish with an orange twist or cocktail cherry.


Dubliner with a lemon twist in a cocktail glass by chas turansky via unsplash

Photo by Chas Turansky via


#2: The Dubliner with Cointreau

“This cocktail changed a couple of ways by using Cointreau:

  • First, I was able to up the amount of Cointreau used in this cocktail because it is a little lighter in flavor and texture, which made the resulting cocktail lighter, too.”
  • It doesn’t have quite as much weight and depth as it traditionally does when made with the Grand Marnier, which can actually be nice in some cocktails; but in this one, it almost feels incomplete in its balance of flavors without it.” –Rob Harrah


  • 2 oz Irish Whiskey
  • ¾ oz Cointreau
  • ½ oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 3 dashes of Orange Bitters


1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice.

2. Use your bar spoon to mix for 10-15 seconds to stir and dilute.

3. Use a Hawthorne or Julep strainer to strain your drink into a coupe or Nick and Nora glass.

4. Complete with a green maraschino cherry (or an orange peel for garnish).

Millionaire after-dinner cocktail in a coupe with orange zest by benedetta cauzzi via unsplash 2

Photo by Benedetta Cauzzi via

#3: The Millionaire with Cointreau

“Substituting Cointreau for the traditional Grand Marnier changed this sophisticated drink recipe for the better, in my opinion:

  • First, I upped the amount of Cointreau from the traditional ¾ ounce to 1 ounce, once again taking advantage of the lightness. I also brought up the lemon juice from ½ ounce to ¾ ounce, which brought even more brightness and depth to the cocktail, especially when combined with the Cointreau.
  • I personally like this version better. It’s lighter, brighter, and more refreshing while still offering bold flavors. The original recipe is still delicious, but I find it to be a little too heavy and lacking in the depth one would expect. To be honest, I relish a cocktail that is light enough for me to enjoy two– The Millionaire with Cointreau is that cocktail; the original Millionaire, regrettably, is not.”

–Rob Harrah


  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • ¼ oz Absinthe
  • ½ oz Grenadine
  • ¾ oz Egg White
  • ¾ oz Fresh Lemon Juice


1. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker without ice and shake (dry shake) for 10 seconds to blend.

2. Add ice and shake again for another 5-10 seconds to chill and dilute ingredients with ice.

3. Using a Hawthorne strainer, strain your finished cocktail into a coupe glass.

4. Finish with grated nutmeg for garnish.


cocktails in coupe glasses by paul einerhand via unsplash

Photo by Paul Einerhand via

So, cocktail lovers, what do you think of these substitutions? Have you had these excellent cocktails before, and if so, how do these modified recipes compare? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. And of course, if you have other favorite Grand Marnier or Cointreau recipes, share them with us, too!

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