Last Updated on January 24, 2024 by Leah Hall
The color of Blue Curaçao is a vibrant and deep blue, like the sea. But as far as taste, it definitely doesn’t taste “blue”. In fact, it tastes like oranges. So, what is blue curacao?
It’s generally believed that Blue Curacao liqueur likely was made to be artificially colored to make pretty cocktails. The origin of this idea may not be true, but colored curaçao goes back to at least the 1920s. We have seen references to many various colors, including green, red, and bright orange. Some of these colors are still available, but the blue and clear orange curaçao varieties remain the most common and easiest to find. Also, make sure to read all about the differences in liquor vs liqueur.
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What is Blue Curacao?
If you are asking what is Blue Curacao, it is a liqueur made with a certain type of citrus: the Laraha orange. This orange grows on Curaçao. Spanish colonizers tried and failed to cultivate Valencia oranges on Curaçao, but they found that the Laraha orange had a fragrant peel, which inspired them to use it in distillation.
The blue color is added artificially, usually using food coloring. This bright blue makes it perfect for cocktails where you want color without changing the flavor.
The Laraha orange, is a green, fibrous and bitter fruit that gives the product its unique flavor profile.
Blue curacao has moderate alcohol content, and it varies by brand, but it’s around 25%. Most liqueurs are around 40%, so this is a little lighter.
There are various brands to be found at your local liquor store. De Kuyper is the most easily found, Bols, Giffard, or Gabriel Boudier are all popular choices.
What Flavor is Blue Curacao?
Blue Curacao tastes of orange, a mix of sweet and bitter. This unique taste comes from the dried peel of the Laraha citrus fruit, which is just from Curacao, and not found in other orange liqueurs. Orange Curacao, a clear liqueur tastes just like the blue version. So, it just depends if you want the color or not by using this popular liqueur.
You can add a bit of it to any orange flavored cocktail that you want to make blue. For sure a little goes a long way as a splash of color.
The liqueur has a strong scent of orange peel with a dash of spice, which makes it perfect for use in cocktail recipes. Blue Curacao has a stronger orange note and more bitter finish than other orange-flavored liqueurs like triple sec, and we think sweeter than Cointreau or Grand Marnier. Since there are some bitter notes, adding the Blue Curacao to a cocktail provide a good balance.
History of Blue Curacao Liqueur
Blue Curaçao has a long history that is rooted in the Caribbean island of Curaçao. The island was taken over by the Spanish in 1499, and Dutch settlers established a colony on the island. The Laraha citrus fruit, the main ingredient in Blue Curacao, was first discovered on the island.
In 1527, the Spanish transplanted bitter Seville oranges to Curacao and tried to harvest them. Unfortunately, the dry climate and lava soil made it difficult for them to grow and these trees were given up on.
Over time, these bright oranges evolved into the Laraha fruit that are green in color.
Lucas Bols, a Dutchman, was a shareholder of the Dutch East Indian Company that brought exotic spices and fruits to Amsterdam to sale, this included the Laraha oranges.
Lucas experimented with the Laraha peels and found a way to extract the aromatic oils. He used this oil from the bitter orange peels to create Curacao liqueur. Since blue curacao starts out clear, he added blue food coloring to the liqueur and made it a popular and bright ingredient for cocktails.
For a short time in 1912, the Bols company also marketed curacao as Crème de Ciel (cream of the sky).
Blue Curacao Cocktails
Blue Curacao makes for a vibrant blue colored cocktail found in a lot of tiki bars by bringing the island flavor. You can also add it to classic cocktails and make a Blue Margarita or Blue Long Island Iced Tea for a bright blue twist. Here are some of the best blue curacao drinks and other distinctive drinks using the liqueur:
- Blue Hawaii cocktail – rum, vodka, and pineapple. But, the color is a greenish blue, because of the mixing with pineapple juice.
- Blue Lagoon – vodka and lemonade
- Blue Martini – sweeter blue colored martini with gin or vodka, blue curacao and dry vermouth
- Aqua Velva – a sweet and interesting cocktail. Combines gin, lemon juice, and tonic water, this one is pretty!
- Lake Water – a Lake Water drink isn’t traditional. The combo of vodka, gin, tequila, rum, triple sec, melon liqueur, raspberry liqueur, sweet and sour, and an orange slice. Lots of booze and fun colors.
- Blue Moscow Mule – this one can be a fun twist on the popular drink, an orange Moscow Mule. Make it in copper mugs, with vodka, lime juice and ginger beer.
The blue color may not look appetizing when mixed with other colorful liqueurs, alcohols or juices, so if you’re experimenting, a general rule of thumb is that it works best with clear liqueurs or light-colored spirits and mixers.
Depending on the other ingredients, the blue liqueur turns the drink blue, add a blue hue, or turn it green by mixing with orange juice or pineapple juice. It can also turn a drink purple by mixing it with cranberry juice or pomegranate juice.
How Do You Pronounce Blue Curacao?
The word Curacao has a hard “c” at the beginning and a soft “ç” at the end. The hard “c” is pronounced like a ‘k’ and the soft as an ‘s’. So the word curacao is pronounced “cure-ah-sow”.
What’s the Difference Between Curacao and Triple Sec?
Both curacao and triple sec are made with oranges. Curacao is made with bitter Laraha orange peels. It can come in other colors like red, orange, green, and clear, but blue is the most popular.
Triple Sec originates from France and is made with the peels of bitter and sweet oranges and sugar beets. It is usually clear.
Is Blue Curacao naturally colored?
Nope, blue food coloring is what gives it its distinctive color!
Are There any Substitutes for Blue Curacao?
Since we have answered what is blue curacao, you know that you can use Triple Sec or Cointreau instead for the flavor. The trouble is the color. You can add a few drops of blue food coloring to get that signature color, or you can use a non-alcoholic blue curacao syrup instead.
We hope that we answered the question of what is Blue Curacao and it’s brilliant blue color for use in tropical cocktails!
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