It’s something that ought to have pride of place in all home bars, but it’s curiously absent from most — the triple sec, an orange-flavoured liqueur that is essential to classic cocktails like the Cosmopolitan and Long Island Iced Tea, as well as an infinite variety of new age ones. Just a splash imparts distinct bitter-sweet orange notes to a drink. Top-of-the line triple secs serve as delicious apéritifs and digestifs. And you can even use the liqueur in cooking — Cointreau-doused crepes or triple sec ice cream, anyone?
‘Triple sec’ loosely translates into ‘triple distilled’. These are liqueurs made with dried peels of lahara (a citrus fruit similar to the orange), that’s found on the Caribbean island of Curaçao. It’s interesting to note that this fruit was ignored for years because it’s so bitter; it was only in the mid-19th century that its present-day use was discovered. The peels are steeped in clear alcohol before being distilled (though some brands use a brandy or cognac base).
A major point of confusion is the distinction between the terms ‘triple sec’ and ‘curaçao’. There’s a fine line distinguishing the two — a liqueur made with the lahara fruit from Curaçao is technically a curaçao; one made with any other orange variety is clubbed under the more generic ‘triple sec’ term.
Today, these liqueurs are stocked in bars across the globe. Cointreau is probably the most famous brand, so much so that many like to think of it as a distinct category of liqueur. Other top shelf brands are Combier, Giffard and Gran Gala. You can find at least 2-3 of these in premium stores in the city. Go on, add this versatile liqueur to your bar arsenal.