10 Best Substitutes for Orange Curacao

Orange curacao has become a staple for restaurants and bars to have on hand. With that, people may be wanting some of their own to make cocktails from home. Sadly, orange curacao can be hard to track down in stores, and can get expensive because of its high demand.

The good news for orange curacao enthusiasts is that there are plenty of substitutes which are pretty similar to the real thing. If you love orange curacao but want a more convenient replacement, try triple sec, Grand Marnier, Gran Gala, Aurum, Blue Curacao, Picon, orange juice, apple brandy, or Garibaldi, to name a few.

What is Orange Curacao?

The creation of Orange Curacao is thanks to the Dutch, as it originated on Curacao Island. It is a sweet-tasting digestive liqueur that is derived from triple sec, another curacao. Its color is dark orange, thanks to coloring agents. 

It is flavored with orange peels and candied oranges, which gives orange curacao a deep, complex, yet sweet taste.            

What are the Uses of Orange Curacao?   

Orange curacao is known for being a delectable addition to cocktails. It adds a sweetness and depth to drinks that they otherwise might not have. Some popular cocktails made with orange curacao include orange margaritas, martinis, and Cosmopolitans.

Because of its sweet flavor, orange curacao can be pleasantly enjoyed on its own as well. It can be drunk straight or on ice, and can easily upgrade punches and fizzes.       

What’s the Difference Between Orange Curacao and Triple Sec?

There is not much formal distinction between triple sec and orange curacao. In fact, some brands use the terms interchangeably. Senior & Co. uses them both for its orange liqueur line, and Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao describes itself as “a classic French triple sec.”

There are a couple notable differences between the two, however. Curacao is more likely to be pot distilled with a spirit that has a darker color and sweeter notes, like brandy, cognac, or sugar cane spirit.

In contrast, triple sec is often column-distilled with the use of more neutral grain spirits. The appearance of triple sec is also clear, versus the unmistakable orange of orange curacao. Triple sec is also known to be drier and more neutral.  

What is a Good Substitute for Orange Curacao? 

1. Triple Sec

Triple sec does have hints of a citrus flavor that are reminiscent of orange curacao. Macerated orange peels are added to a spirit that is more neutral in taste to give it the orange tang. This French liqueur comes in a variety of different colors.

Higher end versions of triple sec are very strong in their orange taste, as orange blooms are used to make it in addition to bitter oranges. Triple sec offers a deep flavor that can be enjoyed in cocktails, on the rocks, or straight.The alcohol content in triple sec varies greatly, but is likely to be between 20-42%. 

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The alcohol content depends on what brand made it as well as its price. The main difference between triple sec and orange curacao is that triple sec will have a neutral base, whereas orange curacao has a base of brandy. Because of their similarities, though, bartenders will often use the two interchangeably.

2. Grand Marnier

Popular for its sweet orange taste, Grand Marnier is another orange liqueur made with a base of brandy. Many manufacturers will use orange peels to add more fruit flavor, making its appearance more golden in color and its flavor more pungent.

No neutral spirits are ever used to make Grand Marnier, which is good news for those who are fans of aged and intense liqueurs, plus the oakiness that brandy offers. Grand Marnier’s most common purpose is for cocktails, but it can be drunk however one pleases, or used for baking.

3. Gran Gala

Like the others so far, Gran Gala has a rich, orange flavor. It is an Italian drink that originated in Trieste. It has an amber color and a scent of candied or fresh oranges.

Many consider Gran Gala to be one of the finest brandies in existence, because of its smooth, velvety texture. Along with oranges, Gran Gala could also be flavored with cinnamon, caramel, vanilla, or cocoa.

4. Aurum

Like orange curacao, Aurum is also based in brandy. It is made with old brandy and has an orange tint to its appearance, as well as its flavor. To enhance the color, a saffron ingredient is also added to Aurum, and it is aged before being bottled, which gives it a deeper taste.

Aurum provides a smooth texture and sweet taste, so much so that it is often added to ice cream and other desserts. Of course, you can add it to your next cocktail or drink it on its own. 

5. Blue Curacao

As the name suggests, blue curacao is another curacao liqueur. But, it is actually clear in its appearance. It does have an orange taste, like orange curacao, but it is more fine. When used in cocktails, you won’t notice much of a difference besides the color of your drink.

6. Picon

Picon is a French liqueur that is orange-flavored, and its taste is somewhat bitter. It is known for mixing well with beer, and is made with neutral alcohol, as well as various herbs and spices. Specifically, Picon could include orange zest, gentian root, and cinchona bark.

The complex flavor of Picon makes it a perfect addition to cocktails.

7. Orange Juice

For a non-alcoholic orange curacao substitute, orange juice is both the most obvious and the best choice. It has the beloved sweet yet tangy flavor of orange and is easily available at any grocery store.

Orange juice could be used as a flavoring agent in your next cocktail, too. If you love the orange taste of curacao and are looking to replicate it, try mixing orange juice with some brandy. You could also add cinnamon or spices to customize it further.

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8. Apple Brandy 

Apple brandy should be available at a liquor store near you. Many different brands sell it, and while its flavor will obviously be different from orange curacao, it can still wonderfully complement drinks that are often mixed with orange curacao.

When using apple brandy as a substitute for orange curacao, using equal parts will work fine. If your apple brandy is unsweetened, try adding a teaspoon of honey or some other sweetener to even out the flavors.

9. Garibaldi

Garibaldi is an Italian cocktail that only requires two simple ingredients; Campari and oranges that have been freshly squeezed. Campari is a type of Italian liqueur that has a complex flavor profile which can be described as fruity, bitter, and even spicy.

To make a Garibaldi cocktail at home, first you’ll need to froth your orange juice, which can be done with a whisk. Keep in mind the Garibaldi is loved for its freshly squeezed orange juice, and not store-bought orange juice.

10. Mimosa   

Mimosas are an easy and popular cocktail made using orange juice and either champagne or Prosecco. Your local bar is sure to be able to make you a mimosa, and you can add it to a cocktail instead of the usual orange curacao.

To make a mimosa at home, just mix equal parts of orange juice and champagne. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What flavor is Orange Curacao?

As its name suggests, the most prominent taste in orange curacao is orange. It is often made with candied oranges or orange peels, which gives it a balanced but sweet flavor. It is also available in a dry form, which is more bitter and neutral than the original.

What is Orange Curacao made from?

Orange curacao is a digestive liqueur made with orange peels and brandy. The ingredients can vary between different manufacturers, and it can sometimes have various spices and herbs added to give it an extra punch. Some brands will use wine instead of brandy.

Can you drink Curaçao straight?

Many people enjoy drinking curacao straight. It has a sweet element, and goes down smoothly, which can’t be said about many other cocktail mixers. While it is popularly used for cocktails, curacao can be drunk and enjoyed however you please.

Conclusion

Orange curacao is a sweet liqueur most commonly used for cocktails. Many different brands make it, and it has become popular at bars. But, if you can’t find any orange curacao, there are plenty of replacements that mimic its taste, appearance, and texture.