Blue Curacao liqueur is the epitome of a classic Caribbean drink. As the name suggests, this stunning spirit is deep blue, popularly associated with sparkling blue waters and the clear blue skies of tropical Islands and beaches. If you are a cocktail lover, you will come across many famous blue-tinted aperitifs such as Blue Hawaii, Aqua Velva, Blue Lagoon, Purple Rain, Blue Margarita, and many more. They are concoctions of the delicious Blue Curacao liqueur produced from laraha oranges. This aromatic orange flavor adds an exotic touch to cocktails, making Blue Curacao a sought-after tropical delight all around the globe.
History of Blue Curacao
The history of Blue Curacao liqueur can be traced back to the 19th century when it was first discovered by Dutch settlers on the island nation of Curacao. Similar to the conflicted history of Amaretto liqueur, two notable brands of Blue Curacao also stake a claim in its invention.
Bols Blue Curacao
Many Caribbean islands, including Curacao Island, were colonized by the Spanish in 1499. In 1527, they transplanted and tried to harvest Seville oranges in Curacao. The harsh weather conditions and unsuitable soil made growing oranges difficult and were eventually abandoned. But as nature took over and the trees adapted, the once sweet and brilliant orange color turned green and bitter, and the locals called them laraha oranges.
When the Dutch settlers took over Curacao Island, they discovered untamed groves of orange trees, which were bitter and inedible. But surprisingly, the peels of laraha oranges were aromatic. A shareholder in the Dutch East India Company, Lucas Bols of the well-known Bols industry, experimented with the laraha oranges. His method included extracting oils from the fragrant dried orange peels and infusing them in liqueur. To popularize his new invention, Lucas added blue food coloring. The electric blue color, coupled with the bittersweet citrus flavor, gave rise to one of the most popular Caribbean drinks of all time – the Blue Curacao liqueur.
In early 1912, Bols Company started marketing Blue Curacao liqueur as Crème de Ciel or cream of the sky.
Senior & Co Curacao of Curacao Blue Liqueur
Another claim to the invention of the first Blue Curacao liqueur is made by Senior & Co, a Jewish company established in 1896 on Curacao Island. Its founders were Haim Chumaceiro and Edgar Senior. Though their story of the Dutch settlers finding the laraha oranges in a wild grove is the same, they state that it was not the Seville oranges that the Spanish first transplanted on the island but another sweet variety called Valencia oranges.
It was not until 1890 that an aperitif was developed by Chumaceiro called Senior’s Curacao Tonic, which was later renamed as Senior’s Curacao Liqueur. Senior & Co takes pride in being the only brand to still make Curacao liqueur by orange peels and also being the only distillery on the island. For this reason, you can find a “genuine” Curacao label on all their products.