Sunday, April 11, 2010

Essential Liquor #7

#7) Triple Sec- Historically, its name meant ‘triple dry,’ this orange liqueur was less sweet than regular curacao. At the bar of the common Joe, cost-effective triple sec is simply blue curacao without the color. Why is it important?

If you try to pour blue curacao into juices like orange juice or lemonade, you get muddy tan more than you get green. So triple sec is your orange flavor when you need it clear (and can’t afford Cointreau! If you can afford it, though, buy it instead.)

I have another classic for you that I am going to riff on a bit. It’s called a Satan’s Whiskers and there are two varieties of it. The first is the curled whiskers whose recipe is below. In the classic drink, the triple sec I used is actually orange curacao (again this would matter in 1930, but today it only provides a deeper orange color). The other version is straight whiskers in which the triple sec is substituted for Grand Marnier. Grand Marnier is orange liqueur and cognac. Which version should you drink? Well, according to the old masters, you should drink curled whiskers in the daylight hours and straight ones at night.

Satan’s Curled Whiskers

½ ounce gin

½ ounce dry vermouth
½ ounce sweet vermouth
½ ounce orange juice
2 teaspoons of triple sec (or Grand Marnier for straight whiskers)
1 teaspoon of orange bitters

Shake on ice.


  1. Awesome! I'll get right on both straight and curled. Did you use fresh squeezed OJ or bottle variety? Care to elaborate on Orange Bitters?

  2. Freshly squeezed, my man! One navel orange did the trick for me. Orange bitters could be tricky. I used Fee Brothers (West Indian orange). My classic recipes mention that you can't name it a Satan's Whiskers without the orange bitters. This drink is now one of my absolute new faves. Lots of dimension; it has a palate that goes on forever and ever.

  3. I haven't had a chance to get orange bitters. It'll be another trip to BevMo for me and I'm thinking of trying the Angostura Orange Bitters. Sounds like they are a bit spicier than Fee Brothers. I was also reading that orange bitters in a classic martini are excellent. Have you tried?

  4. You have to check if Angostura makes an orange bitters. The standard Angostura bitters is an aromatic bitters rather than orange ones. Fee makes an aromatic bitters too. You have certainly had the regular Angostura bitters- it is the key ingredient in Old Fashioneds. I'd say get both kinds if you can!

  5. There is in fact. Already checked that out!

    Angostura Orange Bitters

    And here is a rather good review of several other orange bitters.

  6. Well, my links didn't highlight but you can click on them. Maybe you can fix that for me

  7. Very nice. If you can get it, try it and let us know. Like I said, this is a great cocktail.

  8. I scored the Angostura Orange today--$13 yikes! It was damn hard to find too. I found Regan's Orange, but passed on it. Looking forward to a whiskers soon :)

  9. Wow, Angostura Orange Bitters is spicy. Slight sweetness of ripe oranges on the finsh, strong orange peel on the start. Maybe a hint of cinnamon in there, like a firewater-ish type flavor. Hmmm. Satan=Fire? And what kind of sweet vermouth are you using? Mine is brown and my drink was very brown, although I didn't have orange curacao either. The bitters almost overpowers the taste. Is that the intent? Maybe with the Angostura you need to use less.

  10. Woah, the Fee Brothers is only $4 at Woodman's. I'd venture to say that the Angostura is a different animal...You'll have to experiment with it a bit. Take it in halves until acceptable (i.e. 1/2 tsp...1/4 and so on...) I'm using Stock vermouth.