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Blue Curacao is an extremely popular liqueur used in a multitude of garden variety cocktails. Much like Orange Curacao, the blue colour of the liquid is added after distillation so that it looks attractive in cocktails. The actual colouring makes no difference to the taste of the Curacao which is naturally a colourless liqueur. That’s kind of ironic considering the blue colouring is the main reason people know what this drink is!
Curacao must be made from Laraha peels, a bitter Seville orange introduced to Curacao island by Spanish conquistadors during the fourteenth century. Curacao island is located off the Venezuelan coast and is now a small country. The flesh of this orange is particularly unpleasant, but the un-ripened peel is very aromatic and contains oils that are essential in the production of Curacao.
To make Blue Curacao, the peel of the Laraha orange is dried and allowed to sit in a still filled with water and a base spirit. This allows the sweet fragranced oils to diffuse. After two or three days have past, the orange peel is removed and different spices and botanicals are introduced. The peels are then added to a special bag and hung in a fired copper still containing strong alcohol derived from sugar cane. Once this has cooled, water is added and the final distillation takes place resulting in a liqueur that has a citrus flavour and some bitterness. Finally, the colouring is added as required.
The origins of Curacao are a little hazy, but it’s claimed that that Lucas Bols, of Bols Distillery in Amsterdam, created the liqueur after the Dutch West Indies Trading Company took control of the island of Curacao in 1634. He was well known for adding weird and wonderful flourishes to his drinks so that could explain the unusual blue colouring if the liqueur.