Blue Curaçao is a liqueur made from dried peels of a special plant grown on an island from where it gets its name, Curaçao.
It’s great for cocktails and also available alcohol-free for making mocktails.
If you are interested to find out more about this liqueur’s fascinating history and its flavors, read on. We also talk about how to serve and enjoy classic Blue Curaçao cocktails.
What is Blue Curaçao?
Blue Curaçao is made from the aromatic dried peels of a plant related to the bitter orange.
The Laraha citrus fruit plant grows on a Southern Caribbean island called Curaçao. The island gives the liqueur its distinctive name. Other types of bitter orange are sometimes used instead of Curaçao oranges.
Blue Curaçao has an alcohol content of 15% to 40% ABV (Alcohol by Volume).
Spanish explorers brought Seville orange trees to the island of Curaçao. That was almost 500 years ago, and the tree has changed a lot since then.
The island has less rich soil. That didn’t kill the trees, instead, the orange trees adapted, becoming a new variety altogether. They are now called Curaçao oranges or laraha.
The Curaçao orange itself tastes awful. But people found a use for the green peels. They smell amazing and are used to make Blue Curaçao.
The peels are dried and aromatic oil is extracted. The peels are usually soaked in cane spirit. Curaçao-makers then add water, sugar, and blue colorant.
Blue Curaçao can also be made with other varieties of bitter orange. If it says “genuine” on the label, it’s made with the Curaçao orange and on the island.
The people of Curaçao use flavor liqueur in traditional recipes. This includes orange desserts and cakes. You can add it to cream cheese to make a delicious, colorful dip to go with crackers.
Some brands add botanical ingredients and spices too. This makes their version a bit more distinctive. They might flavor the liqueur with coriander and tamarind, for example. But the aromatic orange dominates in Blue Curaçao.
What does Blue Curaçao taste like?
Blue Curaçao is slightly sweet and slightly bitter. The added sugar balances the bitterness of the Curaçao orange. This helps you appreciate its flavor and aroma more.
The main flavor you will detect is, of course, orange. The main aroma is orange peels.
Blue Curaçao is sometimes a touch drier and more bitter than other orange liqueurs. This is good for people who like orange liqueur, but find others too sweet.
The citrus flavor contrasts with the blue color. But this makes Blue Curaçao fun to use in cocktails.
Why is Blue Curaçao, Blue?
The aromatic oil and the Curaçao liqueur are clear and colorless. Added blue food colorant distinguishes it from other orange liqueurs.
The bright blue color remains distinctive. Colorants are sometimes not a good idea, but the blue food dye generally used is non-toxic.
You can often find Red, Orange, and Green Curaçao as well. Any color could be added. They usually all taste the same. You can choose the colors you like best to make a variety of colorful cocktails.
Varieties of Curaçao Liqueur
There are no strict rules for making Curaçao. It’s made anywhere in the world. It just has to be made with Curaçao or bitter orange peel. There are other varieties of liqueur made in similar ways.
Blue Curaçao remains the classic and most popular of the varieties. Coffee, chocolate, and rum flavors are also made. They are amber or brown in color which distinguishes them.
Curaçao-makers worldwide can create unique varieties with very different alcohol contents. So you can find one that suits you best.
If you’d like to try different varieties, start with the original vivid Blue Curaçao. Find out if the flavors appeal to you. Then you can try the rarer, special varieties. Some are good enough to serve neat, such as an aperitif.
Curaçao liqueurs are a type of triple sec, the name given to orange-flavored liqueurs in general. They are usually clear and colorless. The colors of Curaçao help distinguish it from other types of triple sec.
Best Blue Curaçao Cocktails
We’ve chosen some colorful and easy Curaçao liqueur cocktails for you to try. If you want to make an alcohol-free drink, use Blue Curaçao-flavored sugar syrup in a mocktail recipe.
Blue Lagoon or Blue Hawaiian
Use vodka for the Blue Lagoon and light rum for the Blue Hawaiian. When using rum for the Blue Hawaiian, avoid spicy, dark, or strong rum.
Otherwise, the delicious orange of Blue Curaçao will disappear among all the other flavors.
You add Blue Curaçao, lemon soda, and crushed ice to the vodka or rum. Garnish with maraschino cherries and serve with straws in tall glasses.
If you want to make these cocktails more citrusy, add orange, lemon, and/or lime juice.
Shake up Blue Curaçao, vodka, sweet white vermouth, and orange bitters with ice. Strain the cocktail from the ice and serve in martini glasses. Add an orange peel twist on the side.
Use Red and Blue Curaçao together to get the purple color. Add them to citrus-flavored vodka, sugar syrup, and lemon soda to make this cocktail. Serve the Purple Rain cocktail in martini glasses. You can garnish it with blackberries on toothpicks instead of olives.
Use vodka, Blue Curaçao, orange juice, and lemon-lime soda to make this variation of the classic Screwdriver. Stir up with ice and serve in hurricane glasses. Garnish a Green Screwdriver with maraschino cherries and an orange slice.
If you happen to find Red Curaçao, you can try this cocktail. There are two different variations of the Red Devil.
The first one uses orange and pineapple juice. You can make it with Red Curaçao, light white rum, fruit juices in equal parts, and ice. Stir this up and serve in chalice-style glasses with pineapple slices.
The other type of Red Devil is shaken with ice and strained into champagne saucer glasses. Shake together Red Curaçao, vodka, peach schnapps, smooth whisky, gin, orange juice, and grenadine. Serve as is or with orange peel twists.
Curaçao-makers worldwide can create unique varieties of cocktails with very different alcohol contents. So there’s bound to be a drink that suits you.