Orange Liqueur vs Margarita 2

We’ve been here before, but this time we have some new orange liqueurs to try out, so let’s do a taste test!


Based on some feedback, a change in the standard orange liqueur at the primary testing facility since the last go at this, and the return of national margarita day, here we go again!

Previously we used Cointreau and Grand Marnier, but we had a comment that “triple sec” is much more accessible and we should try that. Turns out, Cointreau is a triple sec as is our current standard orange liqueur, so we’ve tossed in a third lower priced triple sec to provide an economic aspect to this tasting.


  • Silver tequila (we used Sauza Signature Blue Silver, 100% Agave)
  • Cointreau
  • De Kuyper O3 Premium Orange liqueur
    • our current go-to orange option
  • Bols Triple Sec 42
    • seems to be a well respected lower priced option according to these sources.
  • Lime juice (we used True Lime)
  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Ice
  • Glasses to serve these in

Our ingredients for today’s science: Sauza silver tequila, 3 types of triple sec, and powdered lime substance.


We’re using the very simple recipe from “The Thinking Drinker’s Guide to Alcohol” which is 2 parts tequila, 1 part orange liqueur (Cointreau is specified), 1 part lime juice. Shake all with ice and strain into a glass.

A variation on our standard double blinding technique was used: without witnesses, person A poured samples into 3 distinctive measuring glasses recording the mapping of orange liqueur to glass, then person F (without witnesses) poured the samples into the martini glasses and marked each glass with a different charm, recording the mapping of measuring glass to charm.

As all the orange liqueurs used this time are in the triple sec family, we didn’t have to worry about any pesky color issues “unblinding” the tasting (e.g., check out the color difference between the Cointreau and Grand Marnier margaritas in our previous post on this subject).


Triple sec is nice and clear (the plastic measuring glass not so much). Samples correspond to the bottle shown behind them.


Our martini glasses are not uniform so to make sure the mass-mixed tequila and lime was evenly distributed into each glass we employed one of our rarely used graduated cylinders:


Each martini glass required 116 mL of tequila/lime (it’s hard to see the meniscus in this photo, so just trust us that we got it right).


rank product proof cost per 750 mL (USD) tasting notes
1 O3 80 $20 favorite x2

nice flavor, good balance, “orangier” with a very slight odor. Taste Tester K thought this had a tart orange and prominent lime flavors.

2 Cointreau 80 $40 least favorite x1

mellow orange, Taste Tester K thought this one was slightly bitter and Taste Tester A found this one to have prominent lime flavors.

3 Bols 42 $10 favorite x1; least favorite x2

Taste Tester K liked the mild orange flavor and sweetness of this drink. The other two identified noticeable tequila tastes and odors compared to the other drinks.  Taste Tester A found this drink to have an overall weak flavor.


We specifically selected three types of triple sec that ran the gamut of prices. Two tasters agreed that the mid-priced triple sec (O3) produced the tastiest beverage and our rogue taste tester seemed to be aligned with sugar content, which also mapped inversely to price.

One point to consider is that O3 is currently the orange liqueur of choice at the primary testing facility, and the resident taste testers ended up picking the margarita made with that triple sec as their favorite. It could be possible that our taste buds have been trained to be biased towards that product. However, Taste Tester K picked this one as her 2nd favorite, so overall we are confident that our mid-range triple sec was a strong contender in this taste testing and deserved to be #1.


Future Questions:

We used water to cleanse our palates when tasting. Would using a salty item like tortilla chips change our ranking? Some margarita recipes call for simple syrup or sour mix (simple syrup with lemon and lime juices). Would adding additional sugar to this recipe  impact the rankings?

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