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Cointreau vs. Grand Marnier: What’s the Difference?

Are Cointreau and Grand Marnier the Same Thing?

The recipe calls for Cointreau, but you only have Grand Marnier. Or vice-versa. Or it calls for Triple sec. Yikes. Now what? Can you substitute Cointreau for Grand Marnier? Do you have to make any adjustments to the recipe?

All good questions! But before we get there, let’s back up a little bit and see how these two tasty liqueurs compare.

Similarities Between Cointreau and Grand Marnier

Let’s start with what the two orange liqueurs have in common:

  1. They are orange liqueurs: Cointreau and Grand Marnier are both orange liqueurs. At its simplest, that means they are alcoholic, flavored with orange, and they have been sweetened.
  2. Alcohol content: Both are 40% ABV.
  3. The are made in France. More on production can be found here. 
  4. And originated in the late 1800s: . Cointreau was first sold in 1875, preceding Grand Marnier by only five years.


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(For both of our sakes, please don’t ask me to pronounce any of the above.)

Where they Differ

While they do have quite a bit in common, Cointreau and Grand Marnier are actually considered to be different styles of orange liqueur, as they are made in different ways. Their sweetness and flavor profile also differ slightly and can produce different results in cocktails.

How Are Cointreau and Grand Marnier Made?



Cointreau comes from sugar beet alcohol while Grand Marnier is made with cognac and bitter oranges, resulting in their different styles. This article goes in-depth into how both orange liqueurs are made and how they are similar and different due to production.

How Do Cointreau and Grand Marnier Taste?

Grand Marnier tastes sweeter and heavier, and it brings the flavors you’d expect in a liqueur made with a barrel-aged spirit: vanilla and an oaky sweetness.

This article goes through the flavor profiles of each liqueur and how the extra sweetness of Grand Marnier affects cocktails.

What Can You Make with Grand Marnier and Cointreau?

In my opinion, Cointreau is more versatile in cocktails. It works well with lighter spirits like light rums, gin, tequila, and vodka.

If you do need to substitute Cointreau for Grand Marnier, consider using slightly more Cointreau (not a lot – maybe an additional 1/8oz per oz).


Our Favorite Cointreau Cocktails

Here, you can find a list of our favorite cocktails with Cointreau.


Our Favorite Grand Marnier Cocktails

And here is a list of our favorite cocktails using Grand Marnier.


How to Substitute Cointreau for Grand Marnier

Chances are, a recipe will call for Cointreau over Grand Marnier. But how do you sub in Grand Marnier if that’s all you have in your liquor cabinet? 

Here are common Grand Marnier cocktails that we’ve created with Cointreau, explaining how to substitute the lighter, less sweet spirit for Grand Marnier.

Cointreau Vs. Grand Marnier: Final Thoughts

Cointreau and Grand Marnier have quite a bit in common, and in a pinch you can certainly substitute between the two. If you do, expect the flavor profile to change. Cointreau will make the drink lighter and brighter, with a stronger citrus aroma. Grand Marnier will bring weight and oaky sweetness.

We’re just a bunch of regular people who love making classy drinks. Join us!


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