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Naranja Orange Liqueur

Bottle of Naranja Orange Liqueur sitting on a wooden table, in front of a mixed white and wooden background

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Naranja Orange Liqueur


About Naranja Orange Liqueur

Naranja Licor de Naranja Orange Liqueur is produced by La Madrileña, a distillery in Tototlan, Jalisco. First distilled in 1933, this product began as Controy – a now famous Mexican orange liqueur modeled after Cointreau. Though it used to only be available in Mexico, the liqueur became available in the U.S. as Naranja in 2013. The name was changed for legal reasons, but only in the U.S. market.

Although the true origin of the Margarita cocktail is hotly debated, some claim that the first Margarita included Controy, which the brand has greatly emphasized in their advertising. It is made with a neutral cane spirit base. Although they are not very specific about their production process, the flavors derive from a few sources including essential oils and distillates. Both bitter orange peels and sweet oranges are used. It is bottled at 80 proof.

Bottle Specs

❖  ABV: 40%

❖ Distillery: La Madrileña, S.A. de C.V.

❖ Aging: N/A

❖ Price Point: lower moderate price

My Tasting notes

The aroma of this orange liqueur was a bit paradoxical. Something about it seemed thick and full-bodied, yet the actual orange scent was light and faint.

Bottle of Naranja Licor de Naranja Orange Liqueur sitting on a wooden table, next to a small snifter glass with clear liquid

I began to sip it, and there was a lot of heat in the throat. I tasted that classic orange flavor present in Cointreau that reminds me of dramamine. However, this liqueur actually tasted more like dramamine, as it had an unmistakably artificial quality to it. As I continued, I found the flavor notes to be vague and unmemorable. Overall, drinking this liqueur straight was just kinda boring.


For my review, I ultimately decided that I needed to make a Margarita. There was really no choice. How could I see a bold advertising claim like “original Margarita” and not try it for myself? Their website has the recipe listed with the specs below, which are pretty different from my usual ratios. I was excited to test it out!


❖ 3/4oz orange liqueur

❖ 1.5oz blanco tequila

❖ 1/2oz lime juice

❖ garnish: lime wheel

  1. Add the ingredients to a shaker with ice, and shake for 10 seconds.
  2. Strain the mixture into a rocks glass (salt rim optional) with ice.
  3. Garnish with a lime wheel.
clear drinking glass with ice and cloudy clear liquid and a lime wheel garnish, sitting on a wooden table

Inside of a cocktail, this orange liqueur was very disappointing. When it comes to mixer spirits, sometimes they redeem themselves somewhat when I try them against flavorful ingredients in a cocktail. However, this was not the case at all with Naranja. If anything, it dulled the sparkle of both the lime juice and the tequila, which happened to be my favorite Mijenta Blanco. It just made everything taste worse and more boring.

Bottom Line


Overall, I was extremely disappointed with Naranja Orange Liqueur. When it comes to budget triple secs, I don’t expect them to shine on their own, but I at least expect them to reasonably support the the other ingredients in a drink. I simply can’t recommend this bottle when something like Bols Triple Sec provides better results at half the price.

I was surprised to learn after my tasting that Naranja claims to use zero artificial flavors. Though I wasn’t able to confirm or deny this either way, the flavor tastes artificial in my opinion. I was really hoping to love this bottle due to the lower price point, but at the end of the day it just fell flat.

As always, drink responsibly.

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