The Best Type Of Orange To Use For Homemade Triple Sec

Triple sec is an orange-flavored liqueur that's made from orange peels and typically a neutral spirit. It was first made in 1834 by Combier, which is a brand you can still purchase today. And while triple sec can be enjoyed on its own, over ice as a digestive after meals, it's more popularly consumed as part of a cocktail. One of the most common uses of triple sec is in one of the most popular cocktails of all time, a Margarita. Since a classic Margarita has just three ingredients, the importance of triple sec cannot be overstated. In fact, the omission of triple sec is the main problem people had with Alton Brown's original Margarita recipe.

Besides Margaritas, other popular cocktails that contain triple sec include Cosmopolitans, Mai Tais, Long Island Iced Teas, Sidecars, and Kamikazes. And while you can buy a bottle of triple sec wherever you purchase alcohol, high-end versions like Cointreau or Grand Marnier can get pricey, while the cheap stuff is well, cheap, and you can taste the difference. Luckily, you can easily make triple sec yourself at home. And since it's an orange liqueur, the type of orange to use is pretty important.

Use navel oranges for the best results

To make triple sec, you need to use both dried bitter orange peels and fresh orange peels. Navel oranges will be your best bet for fresh orange peels. Not only are they available year-round, but their sweet flavor provides a good balance to the bitter orange peels. Although recipes typically call for the peel, it's actually the zest that you really want, as the white pith will add more bitterness to the final product — use a vegetable peeler, zester, or grater to minimize the amount of pith while peeling.

As for the spirit base, you can use just vodka, brandy, or a mix of both. You can also experiment with other spirits like rum, as well as additional flavors like cinnamon, cloves, or vanilla. Let the peels infuse in the liquor for a few weeks, shaking it up every day or every other day if possible. After a few weeks, add some simple syrup to the mixture, strain, and use it in your favorite cocktail. Your homemade triple sec does not need to be refrigerated and should be good for up to a year, though use it within a few months for the best results.