When it comes to summertime cocktails, the lighter and more refreshing they are, the better. If your go-to drink of the season is sangria (like ours is), mix things up a bit with some Cointreau cocktails. Cointreau is a branded name of triple sec, or orange-flavored liqueur. Categorically, it typically shares the spotlight with other styles of orange liqueur like Curaçao (a brand name and category) and Grand Marnier. In other words, they all share the orange flavor profile, but differ in the way it's produced (or distilled, in cocktail speak). The liqueur is featured in more than 350 cocktails worldwide.
The story of how the now-famous liqueur came to be is actually quite charming: Brothers Édouard-Jean and Adolphe Cointreau opened a distillery in the 1840s in Angers, France, after running a confectionary and cake-making business. Édouard-Jean, fascinated with the public’s interest in oranges—which were rare during that time period—helped craft the liqueur from alcohol, water, sugar, and orange peel. Now, it’s enjoyed as an apéritif (or a tipple typically served before a meal), or as a key ingredient in cocktails like the sidecar, the original margarita, and the Sex and the City favorite; the cosmopolitan.
In honor of the citrusy liqueur, we’ve rounded up 15 of our favorite Cointreau cocktails; from variations on the margarita to a white wine sangria cocktail with a distinct, Basque Country twist. Scroll down and then get sipping.
This festive Cointreau cocktail from Foodie Crush isn’t just for the holidays (although it’s perfect for that time of year, too). Vodka gets stirred with some pomegranate juice, pomegranate seeds, lemon juice, and Cointreau. If you’d like, garnish the beverage with a gold-sugar rim and some rosemary sprigs.
Pro Tip: Create a lemon twist from lemon peel to make it extra festive. This cocktail can be served over ice if desired.
Here’s another delectable Cointreau drink from Foodie Crush for you: A creamy coconut margarita. Mix tequila, Cointreau, coconut cream, coconut milk, lime juice, half-and-half, and a dash of simple syrup. The cream makes it heavy, so this one can double as dessert.
Pro Tip: "Coconut cream can coagulate in the can so be sure to stir it well and discard any chunks that don’t smooth out," writes Foodie Crush. Find coconut cream in the international foods aisle of your grocery store, or order it online.
Frozen Cantaloupe Margarita
Celebrate warm weather with a frozen option to cool down on sweltering days, like this pretty frozen cantaloupe margarita from Half Baked Harvest. A blender is important for this one: Combine chunks of frozen cantaloupe, unsweetened coconut milk, tequila, lime juice, agave, and Cointreau. Serve it in the hollowed-out cantaloupe rind, and don’t forget to take a picture.
Pro Tip: Freeze cantaloupe chunks for at least 1–2 hours before blending.
If you're craving a "lightly tangy drink with subtle sweetness," writes Darling Down South, try her recipe for strawbarb margaritas, which stars a homemade strawberry and rhubarb (strawbarb!) simple syrup. Combine with tequila, Cointreau or Grand Marnier, lime juice, and mint leaves for garnish.
Pro Tip: A batch of strawbarb simple syrup will keep up to a few weeks in the fridge.
San Sebastián White Wine Sangria
Salt & Wind's white wine sangria boasts a distinctly Basque Country flair: It's made with chilled Txakolina, a local and well-known white wine. Then add apples, oranges, lemons, Cointreau, Pisco brandy, and cinnamon sticks.
Pro Tip: Since Txakolina can be difficult to find in the U.S., "If you can't find Txakolina, ask your favorite wine store to recommend a higher acidity, crisp Albariño, Vinho Verde, Sauvignon Blanc or Gruner Vetliner and that should work just fine," recommends Salt & Wind.
Aperol Paloma Cocktail
A zesty cocktail like this Aperol paloma recipe from Salt & Wind brings visions of a relaxing weekend outdoors. Create your own with tequila, grapefruit juice, orange liqueur, Aperol, lime juice, and simple syrup.
Pro Tip: Save some thinly sliced limes for garnish.
Tamarind Ginger Margarita
Le Petit Eats calls her version of a tamarind ginger margarita–which was inspired by the beverage she enjoyed while traveling in Costa Rica, "Pure vacation in a glass." To capture the vibe, blend tamarind paste with ginger syrup, tequila, Cointreau, and ice. You'll also want limes for garnish, and salt and sugar for the rim.
Pro Tip: Le Petit Eats says that while she found tamarind paste in the Asian section of Whole Foods, tamarind pulp candy at your local Mexican market works well, too.
Tangerine Kombucha Mai Tai
Le Petit Eats recreates a riff on the classic mai tai with a homemade simple syrup instead of orgeat, and kombucha. The ingredients you'll need include tangerine kombucha, light and dark rum, Cointreau or other orange liqueur, almond simple syrup, and orange slices and mint sprigs for garnish.
Pro Tip: If you can't find tangerine kombucha, orange or tangerine juice will work just as well, writes Le Petit Eats.
Blood Orange Beergarita
In this margarita variation by Hola Jalapeño, you'll add tequila and beer, lime, Cointreau or orange liqueur, and blood orange juice. Save a few blood orange slices for garnish.
Pro Tip: Feeling extra fancy? Dip orange slices in sugar or brûlée them first before you garnish.
Watermelon Cocktail Punch
Sugar and Charm's refreshing watermelon cocktail punch recipe is great for a summertime gathering. Try it with watermelon juice, lemon, lime, tequila, and Cointreau. This recipe serves six.
Pro Tip: Have extra watermelon juice? Sugar and Charm recommends making watermelon ice cubes, watermelon lemonade, or a new cocktail altogether with vodka and club soda.
This fizzy recipe from The Chunky Chef calls for sparkling wine and pomegranate juice, and Cointreau for that extra something. You can garnish with a sprig of rosemary if you're also feeling festive.
Pro Tip: Add a splash of lime juice for some citrus, or make it a non-alcoholic beverage with sparkling white grape juice or sparkling water.
Spicy Kiwi Mint Margarita Cocktail
Kiwi, although not the obvious go-to ingredient when it comes to cocktail recipes, is super versatile, writes Salt & Wind. Easily assemble a kiwi margarita with the following: Sliced kiwi, jalapeño, fresh mint, Cointreau or orange liqueur, tequila, fresh lime juice, and sweetener.
Pro Tip: "The kiwi puree is enough for 4 cocktails," writes Salt & Wind. "You can keep the puree in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before using."
Simple and Spicy Jalapeño Margaritas
Add some heat to the classic margarita recipe with Julie Blanner's recipe. You'll need tequila, lime juice, orange juice, a bit of Cointreau, agave, and jalapeño.
Pro Tip: Add a Tajín seasoning rim, or rim with chile salt (recipe provided in the post) to switch up the classic salt rim.
The cactus in The Every Hostesses margarita refers to cactus-shaped strawberry ice cubes, which lends a fun touch to the classic cocktail. To make, mix tequila, lime juice, agave, Cointreau, and salt for the rim.
Pro Tip: For a perfectly salted rim, The Every Hostess recommends pouring a generous amount of salt onto a small plate, "then using a sliced lime, rim the glass with the lime then dip it in the salt!"
This frozen cocktail recipe from The College Housewife is sweet without calling for too much added sugar. Whip out the blender for these ingredients: Frozen mango chunks, lime juice, rum, Cointreau or triple sec, honey, ice.
Pro Tip: For garnish, serve with a lime wedge of mango chunk.