OK, so you’re making a cocktail that lists triple sec or Cointreau as an ingredient– but you only have Grand Marnier on your liquor shelf… Can you use it instead?

Short answer: Yes!

Grand Marnier orange liquor bottle next to a chilled coupe glass with orange liqueur .5 oz

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Grand Marnier is a little different from Cointreau or generic triple sec, being a slightly different style of orange liqueur called curaçao (made from cognac rather than a neutral spirit).

Sooooooo… You have to adjust your recipe slightly in order to account for the added sweetness and weight that GM brings to the table. But it’s still doable!

Today, we’re sharing one of our favorite cocktails, the Sidecar drink, a popular sour cocktail. Typically, you’ll see a Sidecar recipe call for triple sec or Cointreau, but we’re using Grand Marnier instead to show you how you can sub it into a cocktail recipe calling for triple sec.


popular Cocktail with sweet full-bodied flavor and citrus flavor from Cointreau

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With a minor adjustment, you can easily use Grand Marnier if that’s what you have in your liquor cabinet. First, let’s look at the original recipe so we can compare this classic cocktail recipe to the slightly updated version below.

Classic Sidecar Recipe:

  • 2 oz VS or VSOP Cognac
  • 0.75 oz Cointreau
  • 0.75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice


sidecar cocktail in a prepared glass using orange-flavored liqueur by adam jaime via unsplash copy

Photo by Adam Jaime via www.unsplash.com



According to our A Bar Above bartender extraordinaire, Rob Harrah, this recipe changes with the addition of Grand Marnier in a couple of ways. The following are his observations:

  • First, you have flavored cognac on top of cognac, which is going to add some extra weight and sweetness to the cocktail. This gives the mouthfeel a little more texture, which is in part why I also made the following change below.
  • Second, your cocktail is going to be a little boozier, which is why I upped the amount of lemon juice to offset the added sweetness and the higher ABV.
  • Third, traditionally the Sidecar is served with ¾-1 oz of Cointreau, but I lowered the amount for the reasons above.

There are only 2 small changes to adjust for the extra sweetness and weight and find the perfect balance between the Grand Marnier and other ingredients, so it’s pretty easy to substitute Grand Marnier for Cointreau in this case.

Definitely let us know in the comments what you think of this alternative version to the original Sidecar!

Sidecar with Grand Marnier

A take on the original sidecar recipe-- but with Grand Marnier instead of Cointreau
5 from 6 votes
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Course: Drinks


  • 2 oz Cognac
  • 0.5 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 Orange Twist For Garnish
  • Granulated Sugar Optional Sugar Rim


  • Rim a coupe glass with sugar and set aside.
  • Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Shake to mix, chill, and dilute.
  • Fine-strain (double strain) into your sugar-rimmed glass and garnish with a piece of orange twist or lemon peel.


About Melanie Tornroth

A former English teacher, Melanie optimistically embraces the struggle that is work-from-home parenthood as the in-house writer for A Bar Above. When not responding to “Mom” and writing articles for ABA, she also runs Goodnickels Photography, loves to cuddle her cats, and is perfecting the art of keeping her pandemic “fermentation babies” alive.