Saturday, October 3, 2009

Tastes like triple sec

I thought that I'd take some 375 ml bottle of liqueurs for a taste test, before investing in the big bottle.  Last week I bought Patrón Citrónage, my first thought was, wow, tastes like triple sec.  What a rip off.  This week I bought Cointreau, and my first thought was, wow, tastes like triple sec.  What a rip off.

Dekuyper Triple Sec costs $10 for 750 ml.
Patró Citrónage costs $15 for 375 ml.
Cointreau costs $20 for 375 ml.

So, let's be fair and do a head-to-head-to-head taste test.  Straight up, and in a margarita.  A more comprehensive review of orange liqueurs can be found at Oh Gosh!

Triple Sec straight up:  Very sweet with a mild orange flavor.  The sweetness is thick and I would be surprised if it is not made with corn syrup.  Not what you'd call an elite product.  But, hey, it's a mixer.

Citrónage straight up: The orange flavor is lighter, and the liquid is not quite as thick on the tongue.  It's actually more sugary than triple sec.  If I didn't know better, I'd think that it's the cheaper product.  But, hey, it's a mixer.

Cointreau straight up:  This one actually has a bitterness to go along with the sweetness, kind of like they used some of the rind in the extract.  It's more complex, but less pleasant straight up.  But, hey, it's a mixer. 

Margarita time!  The recipe is going to be 2 shots tequila, 1 shot orange liqueur, 1/2 shot of fresh lime juice.  Shaken on the rocks.  I'm going to use Sauza Hornitos Anejo tequila.  It's very oaky and I want to see how the sweet flavors interact with it.  It's the only tequila that I currently have so I don't really have much of a choice.  FYI, the Sauza Hornitos Reposada is a great house tequila.

Triple Sec Margarita:  The first thing that you notice is that a properly made margarita is not the sugar bomb that you are used to getting at a restaurant.  The lime is strong but not puckeringly strong.  The tequila is really mellowed out and I only slightly taste the oak.  The triple sec flat out disappears.

Citrónage Margarita:  This is better.  The lime is a bit more muted and I get a hint of orange.  Perhaps the fact that it's tequila based helps with the interaction.  I could actually get used to this.

Cointreau Margarita: I kind of like it.  I can get the orange on the tip of my tongue and the lime on the sides.  There is an oaky aftertaste from the tequila and the bitterness from the Cointreau.

The verdict:  I have to admit that I am surprised.  While the more expensive orange liqueurs are not impressive when you try them straight up, they perform admirably in a cocktail.  Keep in mind that this type of margarita is not a sweet drink.  If you use a mix or concentrated juices to make it sweet, stick with triple sec.  Citrónage won this challenge, though Cointreau was not far behind.  The triple sec version was frankly not good.  In the future, we'll see who wins in a sidecar, Corpse reviver # 2, or a man-o-war.  By the way, I was using a 3/4 size shot glass to measure, so I'm not totally plastered.  Still, for me this has been a lot of sugar.  I need a beer.

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