Triple Sec isn’t really a drink that gets consumed straight away after opening. Instead, it tends to get brought out for the occasional cocktail and then get put away afterward. This can leave us thinking, “how old is this bottle? I don’t remember buying this!” Well, the good news is that most of the time, it won’t matter when you purchased the bottle itself. So long as it was stored correctly, there is very little to worry about!
However, there is a caveat to this. Unlike a fine wine, the flavor of a Triple Sec won’t continue to improve over time. In fact, the opposite can be true. Like with most alcoholic drinks, it doesn’t thrive well in an environment where it is exposed to too much sunlight or oxygen. And, if a foreign body somehow gains access to the bottle without your knowing it, it can spell doom for this incredibly unique ingredient. Because we figured that an ingredient as unique and as pleasurable as this is worth preserving, we put together a quick guide on how to store Triple Sec to ensure that it still hits just right when it comes time for a cocktail.
The Best Way to Store Triple Sec
Triple Sec is an incredibly low maintenance product to store and doesn’t really require any special attention to keep for a very long time. This is because alcohol, in itself, acts as a preservative. Now, I hear you questioning this as the alcohol content of Triple Sec is considerably less than vodka, tequila, rum, etc. But, despite this, it can be stored in the exact same way. Most alcohol cabinets are typified by being set in a cool and dark area which is devoid of any sources of damp or moisture. This is pretty much the ideal storage condition for Triple Sec. Failing that, the pantry will work in much the same manner.
One thing to note, however, is that oxygen will not do the flavor of your Triple Sec any flavors, and naturally, when you open that bottle, it is instantly flooded by a wave of air. Fear not, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a ticking time-bomb like a white wine would be. Instead, it just means that it needs to be stored with a little more consideration from then on out. The key is to minimize the contents’ exposure time to oxygen. For the best results, simply make sure the bottle is well sealed again before putting it back. If it is the case that the bottle is more than half empty, you could opt to transfer the remaining contents into a second, smaller bottle. By doing this, the Triple Sec is housed with less air, reducing its deterioration time.
How Long Does Triple Sec Last?
Given that the alcohol content range of Triple Sec ranges from around 20% to 40%, it generally has enough alcohol content to preserve itself quite well. Alcohol is a notoriously hostile climate for bacteria to thrive in, so generally what we are looking for is a method of preserving the flavor rather than preventing mold. It also doesn’t really contain any extra ingredients that can go bad. The worst-case scenario is that it loses its tangy orange quality and just becomes bland to the taste. In this sense, we can totally disregard any sell-by date information in the case of bottles with a high alcohol percentage.
Because of these factors, we would advise that you could enjoy Triple Sec from an unopened bottle more than ten years after its bottling date. However, even if stored correctly, this date can be pushed back dramatically when opened. As soon as the bottle is opened, we would recommend consuming it within 3 years. Naturally, such a practice is only safe if you have followed the storage techniques detailed above.
Signs That Your Triple Sec May Have Gone Off
Here’s a tricky one, because Triple Sec shouldn’t ever truly go off unless the lid has been permanently left off and some contaminants have made their way in. As such, it really does take an almost extreme amount of neglect for this to happen. Regardless, should something go wrong, here are the signs you should look out for:
Seeing as it is the case that something fairly dramatic has to occur for Triple Sec to go bad, you can easily perform a quick diagnostic using just your trusty olfactory system. A quick smell should tell you all you need to know. If it smells off, it is off. Discard it immediately in this case. Beyond this, a small taste will clarify any doubts you previously held. Mostly, it will just taste a bit dull as it will have lost some of its flavor. Even in this case, it is not really worth using and really should be replaced. Generally speaking, when something has gone catastrophically wrong, you will be able to see it right away. Look for substances floating or suspended in the liquid and discoloration. If you notice any of these, get rid of it.
Should Triple Sec be Refrigerated?
Though it is true that Triple Sec is best enjoyed chilled, there is no reason to keep it in the fridge long-term. For most of us, the fridge is a safe haven for foods that perish rather quickly, and adding bottles into the mix just isn’t space-efficient. However, if you have the space to do so, it won’t do any harm. That being said, it won’t prolong its shelf life either. In this sense, it is best to opt for the pantry for long term storage and occasionally placing it into the fridge to chill for a while before drinking it or using it in cocktails.
Triple Sec Storage, Sell-by Dates, and Other Related Questions
How long does Triple Sec last after bottling?
If kept in a cool dark environment and unopened, a bottle of Triple Sec can pretty much last forever without going bad. However, some report that it begins to lose its flavor after a ten year period. It is important to note that the lifespan of Triple Sec can decrease dramatically if it has been opened or stored incorrectly. See above for tips on how to prevent that happening and how to notice if it has already happened.
Where does Triple Sec come from?
Triple Sec, which was originally known as Curacao Triple Sec originates from the island of Curacao. It is manufactured using the dried skins of both bitter and sweet oranges which gives it its unique taste.
What is Triple Sec used for?
Though Triple Sec can be enjoyed neat or on the rocks, it is more commonly found in cocktails. It can generally be found in versions of the margarita, white lady, and the cosmopolitan.
Where does the name Triple Sec come from?
In French, the word ‘sec’ usually means dry. However, in this instance, when it relates to alcohol production, it means distilled. In this sense, it simply means triple distilled.
Can I use Triple Sec in baking?
Absolutely, and it can add quite a bit of delicious tanginess to your recipe. Beyond its more obvious uses in recipes like the crepe Suzette, Triple Sec goes amazingly well with nearly anything that contains chocolate. In a pinch, it can also be used as a quick and easy substitute for orange zest or orange extract.
What is the difference between Triple Sec and Cointreau?
The honest answer here is that we just don’t know! Since Cointreau was invented, the recipe has been a closely guarded secret and seeing as it is only manufactured by one company it may continue to be shrouded in secrecy for quite some time.