Four things I’ve learned about…Orange Liqueurs

The February 2012 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine is out, and it includes (among other things) my review column on Orange Liqueurs.  You can pick up a copy at the newsstand, or view it in digital format on Zinio.  Here’s what I learned:

1. It’s the “Bartender’s Ketchup.” At least, that’s what one wise-acre bartender I know calls it.  In other words, it’s sweet, versatile, and gets dashed into everything to sweeten and round out drinks.

2. Orange liqueur sweetens roughly 1 in 4 drinks. That’s not an official statistic; that’s my estimate after leafing through I-don’t-know-how-many cocktail menus. In craft cocktail havens, it sweetens fewer, as bartenders diversify with simple syrup, agave nectar, fruit juices and other sweeteners. In sports bars or other less mixological joints, orange liqueur might be dashed into drinks more frequently.

3. I didn’t realize (but should have) that the base of these liqueurs can be anything – brandy, particularly Cognac, is most common, but I also tried tequila/agave and rum based orange liqueurs. It probably makes sense to complement, say, a tequila-based drink with a tequila-based orange liqueur.

4. Most orange liqueurs on the market are Curacaos. It turns out, Curacao is a generic term used when the bitter oranges are grown on the Caribbean island of Curacao. That family includes a number of brand names you’ve likely heard before:  triple sec and Cointreau, for example. The infamous blue curacao also is part of this family. (As an aside – I tried a new “dry curacao” from Ferrand, which I really dug.) 

PS – How do you pronounce it, anyhow?  CURE-a-sow. Though I’ve also heard some more pretentious types add a mysterious “l” on to the end to pronounce it more like “cure-a-cell.” Hmm. I have absolutely no idea where that “l” sound comes from.

If you know — or if you have a favorite orange liqueur or drink that features the Bartender’s Ketchup, I’d love to hear about it, please post a comment!

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3 thoughts on “Four things I’ve learned about…Orange Liqueurs

  1. Yo Kara!

    I’m no Orange Liqueur expert, but I’ve heard that the Patron Orange is quite good and rivals Grand Marnier and Cointreau. Just wondering if you’ve tried it. Would love to hear your thoughts. I know it’s only January, but the way time has been flying by, I would say that Margarita season is right around the corner. Need to stock the bar! :)

    Cheers!
    G-LO

  2. I liked the Patron Orange when I tried it — though it wasn’t part of this tasting round, so I can’t say for sure how it stacks up vs. other products. But I’m sure it would do very well in a Margarita, especially if you’re using Patron as your tequila, since it’s designed to be harmonious.

  3. Pingback: 5 things I’ve learned about…Liqueurs and Cordials | Tipple Sheet

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