I never thought much about triple sec, until the event wizards on the other side of the office asked me to be a judge in this Wednesday’s Be Cointreauversial. The name should hopefully provide a clue as to the sponsor of this event, and we have invited Jon Christiansen from Monsoon East, Paratii’s Michael Kostin, Hunger barman Greg West, Travis Stanley-Jones of Mulleady’s, and Shane Sahr from Tini Bigs to face off in a Cointreau cocktail competition.
Supposedly some people drink this orange-flavored liqueur as a digestif, but I’ve mostly known it as an ingredient in margaritas, cosmos, French 75s, lemon drops and other cocktails that proliferated in the 1990s. It’s sort of the Lady Edith Crawley of liqueurs—helpful and ever present, but only able to command the spotlight when conventions get turned on their head.
Hence I asked a few of our competitors for a crash course in triple sec. “It’s been in every well I have ever worked,” says Christiansen, who attributes the ubiquity to those aforementioned drinks. Traditional triple secs, he says, are “lighter, sweeter, brighter, and more cheery,” but Christiansen is partial to deeper versions, with a hint of orange-peel bitterness, since they stand up well to citrus juice and a bit of shaking.
Most cocktails are made up of a base, a modifier, and an accent; Cointreau and its ilk are usually used as a modifier, but over at Mulleady’s, Stanley-Jones likes to use it as a base spirit in fizz-style drinks (ie with soda and some sort of juice). He thinks the liqueur is poised to be a larger part of our city’s cocktail conversation, since it complements fresh juices beyond lemon and lime, and plays well with herbs.
Thus armed with a little background, I have the not-so-onerous professional duty of judging these gents’ concoctions at our Cointreauversial event, from 6 to 9 on August 8 at the swanked-out Rooftop at Bell Harbor, along with fellow judges Matthew Lewis of Where Ya At Matt, who promises good cocktails at his forthcoming restaurant Roux, and Sennen David, beverage director for Ethan Stowell Restaurants, who is busy gearing up for the opening of Rione XII. Chefs Jared Dill of Morton’s and David Hatfield from Library Bistro will be grilling up meaty fare and burlesque dancers from Seattle’s Atomic Bombshells will cavort. In short, it’s way more glamorous than most of my Wednesday nights. Tickets are $35, or two for $50, and include cocktails and food. Net proceeds benefit the Seattle International Film Festival.