Meet Cointreau, the Versatile Liquor That Fancies Up Any Cocktail

When it comes to summertime cocktails, the lighter and the more refreshing they are, the better. Chances are your go-to drink of the season is sangria (our is too), but it's time to mix it up a bit with some Cointreau cocktails. So what is this alcohol, you may ask? Well, it's a tasty orange-flavored liqueur that's cousins with curaĐ“§ao and Grand Marnier and happens to be an ingredient in more than 350 cocktails worldwide. (Who knew?)

The story of how the now-famous liqueur came to be is actually quite charming: Brothers Edouard-Jean and Adolphe Cointreau opened a distillery in the 1840s in Angers, France, after running a confectionary and cake-making business. Edouard, fascinated with the public's interest in oranges (which were rare during that time period), helped craft the liqueur from alcohol, water, sugar, and orange peel. Now, it's enjoyed as an aperitif, but it also plays a key role in drinks like the sidecar, the original margarita, and the Sex and the City favorite cosmopolitan.

Although the founders once claimed it was the first-ever triple sec, modern-day bartenders will tell you the difference: Triple sec has an alcohol content of 15% to 30% while Cointreau is stronger, with an alcohol content of 40% (its taste is still fairly mild). In honor of the citrus liqueur, we've rounded up four of our favorite Cointreau cocktails. Scroll down and then get sipping.

Rosewater Cointreau Fizz

A Pair & A Spare

Fizzy cocktails can do no wrong, including this tasty rosewater Cointreau fizz. To make it, put some ice in a glass, and pour in the Cointreau, rose water, raspberry juice, and lime juice. Muddle it a bit, and then top it with soda water. Ta-da! Now you've got a pretty beverage to serve (or drink).

Pomegranate Martini

Foodie Crush

This festive Cointreau cocktail isn't just for the holidays (although it's perfect for that time of year, too). Vodka gets stirred with some pomegranate juice, pomegranate seeds, lemon juice, and Cointreau. If you'd like, garnish the beverage with a gold-sugar rim and some rosemary sprigs.

Coconut Margarita

Foodie Crush

Here's another delectable Cointreau drink for you: a creamy coconut margarita. Mix up some tequila, the Cointreau, coconut cream, coconut milk, lime juice, half-and-half, and a dash of simple syrup. PS: The cream makes it heavy, so this one doubles as dessert.

Frozen Cantaloupe Margarita

Half Baked Harvest

Since it's still summer, it's inevitable we'll need a frozen option to cool us down on sweltering days. This pretty frozen cantaloupe margarita will do the trick. A blender is important for this one: Combine chunks of frozen cantaloupe, unsweetened coconut milk, tequila, lime juice, agave, and the Cointreau. Serve it in the hollowed-out cantaloupe rind, and don't forget to take a picture.

Up next: the best veggie burgers.