Red Curaçao liqueurs
Words by Simon Difford
Curaçao are orange-flavoured liqueurs which take their name from the small Caribbean island of Curaçao. The island is renowned for its bitter orange trees, called Laraha or Curaçao oranges. The fruit itself is too bitter and fibrous to eat but the peels contain aromatic oils which are infused in neutral spirit to form the base of curacao liqueurs.
Red Curaçao liqueurs are coloured red with added artificial food colouring, usually Allura Red AC (E129).
Allura Red AC is a red azo dye that's also known as FD&C Red 40 is by far the most commonly used red dye in food and beverages. So long as it's consumed within safety limits (7 mg/kg per day), Allura Red AC is generally considered nontoxic and safe and is approved by both U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Food Safety Authority.
Curaçao liqueurs colours, most notably Blue Curaçao as well as clear and Orange Curaçao, all tend to have other flavourings besides just orange, particularly vanilla. Despite their "Curaçao" name few of these liqueurs are flavoured with Curaçao or Laraha oranges.
Few Red Curaçao liqueurs are still made and those that are available tend to be higher in alcohol content than Blue Curaçao liqueurs, typically between 25% and 30% alc./vol..