6 Triple Sec Drink Ideas for Celebrating Any Special Occasion

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If you opened this article, you likely have some questions on your mind, like, “What is triple sec?” and “what is triple sec used for?” What exactly does triple sec even mean? 

If you speak French, you may know that “sec” means “dry.” Yes, the “sec” in “triple sec” references the process in which dried orange peels are left in alcohol for at least a day before distilling the liquid. “Triple” refers to the distillation process itself, meaning this liqueur undergoes three rounds of distillation. 

Triple sec is a sweet, citrusy, and slightly bitter liqueur that is essential to some of the world’s most famous cocktails like margaritas, cosmopolitans, and Long Island iced teas. Below, we’ll show you a couple of classic cocktail recipes that contain triple sec, and we’ll also drop in a few unexpected varieties in case you’re looking to improve your mixology skills. 

6 yummy drinks with triple sec

1. Margarita: All home bartenders should know how to shake up a margarita, one of the most beloved cocktails of all time. This three-ingredient drink isn’t difficult to make, and there are endless variations that you can try out. 

Once you learn the basics, the world is your oyster—or, rather, the bar is. You can add all sorts of fruit juices, make the drink frozen, or swap out the tequila for its smokier counterpart, mezcal, as a base liquor. 

To make a classic margarita recipe with triple sec, don’t forget to first line the glass with coarse sea salt by running some triple sec around the rim and then dipping it into the salt to round out the flavor profile. Then, add equal parts lime juice, triple sec, and tequila to a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and combine well. Strain into a cocktail glass on the rocks. Garnish with a lime wedge or even a split jalapeño pepper, if you want to add some heat. 

Brent Hofacker – stock.adobe.com

2. Cosmopolitan: This bright pink drink was in part made famous by the equally cosmopolitan series of the nineties, Sex and the City, in which characters were always ordering up “cosmos” during nights out on the town. This is one of the most famous cocktails with vodka and triple sec. Shake together 1 ½ ounces of vodka, 1 ounce of triple sec, 1 one-half ounce of cranberry juice, and one-half ounce of fresh lime juice with ice. Strain the drink into a martini glass and enjoy cold.

Brent Hofacker – stock.adobe.com

3. Long Island iced tea: Although it tastes ice tea, this drink sure isn’t made from it. A Long Island iced tea contains a whopping 5-7 liquors, depending on the preparation. No matter what accompanying liquors you use, gin and triple sec are always at the heart of this cocktail. You’ll find a bunch of different recipes out there, but here’s a solid start. Add three-quarter ounces of vodka, three-quarter ounces of light rum, three-quarter ounce of tequila (blanco), three-quarter ounces of gin, three-quarter ounces of triple sec, three-quarter ounces of simple syrup, and three-quarter ounces of freshly squeezed lemon juice to a tall glass with ice. Top up with the cola of your choice and stir to combine. Serve with a straw to encourage slow sipping as this drink has some serious kick.

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4. Sidecar: This lemony classic is shaken, not stirred. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add 1 ½ ounces of cognac, three-quarter ounces of triple sec, and a hearty squeeze of lemon juice. Shake vigorously and pour into a coupe glass, or any other shallow glassware. Garnish with a twist of orange peel.

Brent Hofacker – stock.adobe.com

5. Velvet Hammer: The name of this drink might sound like a punk band or something you’d find at the hardware store, but this creamy cocktail is all about soft, enticing flavors. To make, simply fill a tall glass with ice and add in 1 ½ ounces of triple sec, 1 ½ ounces of your favorite coffee liqueur, and 1 ½ ounces of heavy cream. Stir gently to combine. We know what you’re thinking: orange and coffee flavors with milk? Don’t knock it until you try it.

Yulia Furman – stock-adobe.com

6. Sangria: Sangria is perfect for long patio dinners or afternoons by the pool. There are countless ways to make this drink, but most recipes have a few qualities in common. Sangrias usually contain wine and a citrus component and lots of fresh fruit, and often include a bit of harder alcohols like rum or liqueur. You can also adjust the flavor to match your event whether it’s a summer birthday party or Thanksgiving dinner.

This triple sec variety can be made by combining one whole bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, 1 ½ cups of St-Germain elderflower liqueur, ¼ cup of triple sec, 6 sliced strawberries, 6 whole raspberries, 2 sliced peaches, several orange slices, and a couple of handfuls of whole green and red grapes. Add a bunch of ice, and stir with a large wooden spoon to combine. Serve cold. 

Bartender’s tip: One way to keep sangria cool without watering it down is to use frozen fruit to replace the ice cubes. The fruity flavors will infuse the liquid over time and your drink will be as potent as ever, even on the second round. 

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FAQs

Can you drink triple sec straight?

If you’re asking if you can drink a triple-sec margarita or sidecar while relaxing alone on the couch with a good book, the answer is “yes.” However, if you want to know is whether you can drink this liqueur on its own, the answer is hotly contested. Triple sec is sometimes enjoyed straight up after meals as a kind of dessert-like palate cleanser, but the flavors are quite strong and the texture is pretty thick, so triple sec isn’t as enjoyable as other liqueurs. Once you learn how to drink triple sec in mixed cocktails, you’ll probably stick to this preparation method rather than serving the liqueur neat or on the rocks. 

What kind of alcohol is in triple sec? 

Triple sec contains “neutral spirits.” Neutral spirits, as the name implies, aren’t very flavorful, and can be made from various sources like grains, grapes, and even beets. Neutral spirits are common in homemade liqueurs, flavored aperitifs, and mixers. If you’re looking for a substitution for triple sec, you can try Cointreau or blue curacao.

Big brunch or cocktail party coming up? Count on Gopuff. Even if you run out of mixers in the middle of the event, they’ll help keep the festivities going by showing up at your door in minutes with ingredients for the next round. 

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