General Question

sferik's avatar

What does the "triple" refer to in triple sec?

Asked by sferik (6099points) January 3rd, 2008

Are there any other kinds of secs? Single sec, double sec, or quadruple sec? What happens three times to triple sec?

I thought of this question while lying in bed, hung over from drinking Long Island Iced Tea.

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15 Answers

Evan's avatar

interestingly, it turns out that the more important word in their is “sec” :) sec means dry in French.

tripple sec is a curacao, techinically – it was invented in the lesser antilles (maybe early/mid 1800s, though i’m not sure). super-sweet imitations followed, leading to the creation of the triple dry curacao.. i.e. triple sec.

i’m mostly paraphrasing the article linked, which was interesting. Although i found a couple places that mostly agree on the story.. more so it seems as there there are varying reports on the subject.

Mmmm… oranges… Mmmm…

happy hunting!


sferik's avatar

Interesting indeed.

But what does triple dry mean? Why triple? Why not just call it dry curaçao?

Evan's avatar

it’s definitely a good question. This is one of the other stories out there:

these people claim that it was invented by their dude in his candy shop in the mid 1800s..

…sooo, who knows?


Protagoras's avatar

Triple refers to the number of times it's distilled.

sferik's avatar

I guess that makes sense. I’m surprised no one has ever tried selling quadruple sec as a marketing gimmick. Is there a name for twice-distilled liquor?

shockvalue's avatar

double sec?

gailcalled's avatar

sec bis? encore sec?

colog's avatar


gailcalled's avatar

Not in my French dictionary, but gråce à l’internet, a great new word for me. Thanks. Is French your native tongue?

kevbo's avatar

There’s a demi-sec classification/adjective sometimes used for wine/sparkling wine. “semi-sweet”

colog's avatar

@kevbo I believe you mean “semi-dry”, or more literally, “half dry”.

@gailcalled Google Translate is my native tongue.

bluemukaki's avatar

@colog you mean Google Translate the native tongue to me is (in the spirit of google translator)

Evan's avatar

I’m still very skeptical that it always refers to it being triple distilled. I know it says that in a few places.. but it’s hard to find any french translators that convey that sec, in the sense of “dry” can sometimes refer to distillation. Also.. it seems to me that it could be a misnomer even if it were, as I’m not convinced that triple sec is always triple distilled. in the meantime the line about triple distillation should probably be pulled off wikipedia. ;)

gailcalled's avatar

@colog: Vous êtes un homme scrupuleux -

@blue; If you want to have a real howl, translate something at and then translate it back into English.

Zen's avatar

If it’s very dry, and twice distilled, then it’s a double-entendre.

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