Cointreau® is the name of the original French orange liquor. It was originally created to be 3x more concentrated in flavor as well as less sweet than the other liqueurs available at the time. It’s transparent in color, has a complex orange peel aroma, and taste is intensely orange. It adds flavor and freshness to cocktails and IS gluten free!
Gluten Free & Cointreau
According to Celiac.com, Cointreau does not contain gluten (wheat, oat, rye or barley), tannines, yeast, corn or nut and is “a crystal-clear liqueur with a 40% alcohol content which is made from the distillation of sweet and bitter orange peels, blended with natural alcohol, sugar and water.”
Just to confirm this information, I emailed them via their contact form asking and they did confirm the product is gluten free.
What Gluten Free Cocktails Can Be Made with Cointreau?
The best known (and gluten free) cocktails made with Cointreau are:
- A classic Margarita – One of the most popular cocktails of all time containing Cointreau, tequila, optional sweetener (typically agave), and lime juice.
- A Cosmopolitan – A well know tart, pink drink containing cranberry juice, lemon juice, Cointreau, simple syrup, and vodka (go with a gluten free vodka such as Titos®).
- A Sidecar – A warm, but sour favorite containing cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice.
Other delicious options include: lemon drop, pomegranate and other fruity martinis, mai tais, white ladys, the French 75, and sometimes a splash in other champagne drinks such as mimosas.
What Is the Difference Between Cointreau, Triple Sec, and Grand Mariner®?
All three are types of orange liqueur. However, Grand Mariner is a blend of cognac and triple sec and is citrusy, but has an oaky flavor to it. Cointreau is exclusively a type of triple sec and stronger in citrus flavor. Triple sec is a liqueur made from skins of oranges and though it still has citrus flavor, its less intense and lower in alcohol. “Triple sec” is technically considered more of the process by which liqueur is made rather than a specific type of product.
Grand Mariner is considered the most expensive, followed by Cointreau with about 40% alcohol and a strong, smoother flavor then the lowest in quality – triple sec, which is the most inexpensive and has a alcohol content ranging from about 15-30% depending on the brand.
Is Triple Sec Gluten Free?
Yes, triple sec is gluten free. According to a gluten free liqueur guide from https://home.binwise.com/blog/gluten-free-alcohol, there are no wheat ingredients used in Triple Sec, so it’s suitable for both gluten-tolerant and gluten-intolerant consumers. On celiac.com, triple sec is also listed under their list of liqueurs considered gluten-free and safe for celiacs.
Is Orange Liqueur Gluten Free?
According to Celiac.org, pure, distilled, liqueur, even if made with wheat, barley, or rye, is considered gluten-free. They consider most liqueurs safe for people with celiac disease because of the distillation process.
I tend to disagree with them due to reactions from liqueur that was distilled after being made with wheat, however, it depends on your sensitivity and preferences. Additionally, liqueurs can have flavorings and other additives added as well as can be at risk for cross contamination. That being said, I typically only drink liqueurs that are made from non-gluten containing ingredients.
This is why I typically stick to Cointreau, are they are the most transparent about the ingredients in their orange liqueurs. However, it appears that the majority of orange liqueurs are made from distilling orange peels and should be safe options.
Making a Standard Gluten Free Margarita
Due to most margaritas containing safe ingredients such as Cointreau, tequila, and lime juice, margaritas are typically a safe gluten free cocktail to order at a bar, serve/drink at a party, or make at home. And, if you order on the rocks (and ones without mixers used), they are one of the healthiest cocktails available.
I remember googling, “what is the healthiest alcohol,” and tequila surprisingly came up at the top of almost every list (fewer calories, no sugar or carbohydrates). So, put that sparkling drink aside, and let’s get to making some “healthy” margaritas!
Margarita on the Rocks
1½ ounces silver tequila (I prefer Milagro or 1800 for their smooth flavor)
1 ounce orange liqueur (I prefer Cointreau)
1 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
Optional: sweetener agave or simple syrup, to taste
Garnish/Serving: Lime slice, salt or sugar for rimming, margarita glass
- Add ice to a cocktail shaker. Add all ingredients. Close and shake until mixed, about 20 seconds.
- Wet the rim of a margarita glass. Twist in salt or sugar to rim the glass.
- Strain the margarita into the glass.
Gluten Free Margarita Recipes
While the margarita is typically a safe option for those who are gluten free, many contain processed and artificial ingredients. If you love yourself a margarita, you may also want to try some of the (gluten free) and healthy margarita recipes below; made with natural ingredients. Taco Tuesday just got a little happier…and healthier!