Curaçao, the “C” in the trio of so-called ABC islands in the southern Dutch Caribbean along with Aruba and Bonaire, is also known as “island of 35 beaches.”
On this tropical paradise, you’ll find everything from secluded, under the radar coves frequented only by locals and those in-the-know to chic spots where you can rent a lounge chair at an exclusive waterfront club and be doted on all day by an attendant. No matter the vibe you choose, all of Curaçao’s beaches have one thing in common: That swoon-worthy sparkling azure hue that hardly looks real, as blue as the namesake citrus liqueur that’s made there.
Armchair travel to this paradise situated outside of the hurricane belt via your glass with history, facts, local bartender intel and immersive recipes.
Curaçao Started As Medicinal
Edgar Senior, the distillery’s founder, was a descendent of a family of Conversos who emigrated from Spain, the term used for Jewish people who converted to Christianity in name only to escape persecution. The Senior family fled to the Netherlands and Brazil before Haim Mendes Chumaceiro and Edgar Senior moved to the island and opened up a pharmacy called Botika Excelsior. They began producing an aperitif or digestive using a secret family recipe, originally calling it Senior’s Curaçao Tonic before changing the name to Senior’s Curaçao Liqueur.
You Can’t Eat The Ingredients
The Valencia orange was brought over from its native spain to Curaçao, but over time the tropical climate caused them to develop into the Laraha variety, which was too bitter to eat. However, locals discovered that when the peels were dried, they became fragrant and sweeter — the perfect flavoring base for a citrus liqueur. Landhuis Chobolobo, an historical nineteenth-century estate, remains the only distillery in the world that uses dried Laraha peels to make the iconic spirit.
No Copyright Means More Brands
It would have been pretty difficult for the owners to copyright the name of a product that it shares with an island, so you’ll come across other brands made there and around the world on bar menus and at the liquor store.
Some distinguish the fact that they are “dry” and aren’t colored with that same shock of blue, while the one made on this island is unabashedly, unapologetically sweet. Others share its color but are made with artificial ingredients rather than the eight ingredients — including the dried Laraha peels — found in the original, still produced in small batches.
To quickly tell if yours is the real deal, look for the distinctive circular bottle and bumpy-textured glass, both designed to resemble an orange.
Genuine Curaçao Comes In Other Colors
The most recognizable color is meant to evoke thoughts of the Caribbean Sea, but it actually also comes in four other colors depending on what aesthetic you are going for, each with the same signature orange flavor: clear, red, orange and green. The company also distills chocolate, coffee, tamarind and holiday versions, so there’s a flavor for every reason and season!
Jurnick Merced, 2019 Caribbean bartender of the year, is drawn to the liqueur’s lemons-to-lemonade history, so to speak.
“Spain wanted to use our grounds to plant their Valencia oranges but our hot climate turned it into this bitter inedible orange, [whose] peels contained oils that later would be used to create the genuine Blue Curaçao liqueur,” he says. “This for me is what makes it special, because it’s something indigenous and can’t be made anywhere else in the world.” This libation is one of the most classic uses for Blue Curaçao, found all over the island and utterly Instagrammable.
¾ oz. Senior Genuine Blue Curaçao
1 ½ oz. vodka
1 oz. lime juice
1 oz. simple syrup, or to taste depending on sweetness desired
Sprite, to top
Add the first four ingredients to a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a tall glass filled with ice and top with Sprite.
“[The island of ] Curaçao is like a Blue Daiquiri… radiant in color, fresh, dushi (delicious) and it leaves you wanting more, says Claudemy Fransina, Bartender at Curaçao Liqueur Distillery and Curaçao Hospitality and Tourism Association (CHATA) 2020 Star of the Industry. This is a riff on the classic Daiquiri, where a splash of Blue Curaçao renders it even more tropical than the original.
1 ½ oz. Senior Genuine Blue Curaçao
½ oz. white rum
1 oz. lime juice
½ oz. simple syrup
Lime wheel for garnish, if desired
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lime wheel, if desired.
Turks and Cocos
Renowned local bartender Fabian Cleopa was stirred to create this sip as a “classy blue cocktail.” It’s creamy, dreamy, smooth and balanced; if you prefer, you can blend it for an even more luscious texture.
½ oz. Senior Genuine Blue Curaçao
1 oz. white rum
1 oz. egg white
1 oz. coconut cream
1 oz. lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
Crushed ice and mint leaves, for garnish
Add all ingredients except garnish to a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake until well-chilled. Double-strain into a double old fashioned glass over fresh ice, top with crushed ice and garnish with the mint leaves.