Blue Curaçao liqueurs
Words by Simon Difford
Orange Curaçao liqueurs come in different colours: blue, red, clear and orange, 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. Blue Curaçao liqueurs are typically between 15% and 25% alc./vol.
Curaçao liqueurs are orange-flavoured liqueurs which take their name from the small Caribbean island of Curaçao. Colonized by the Dutch in 1634, the island became 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 orange curacao liqueurs. Blue Curaçao liqueurs are coloured blue with added artificial food colouring, usually Brilliant Blue FCF (E133).
Produced from petroleum, Brilliant Blue FCF (AKA Blue 1 or Acid Blue 9) is a synthetic dye with a colour index of 42090. So long as it's consumed within safety limits (0.1 mg/day per kg body weight), Brilliant Blue FCF is generally considered nontoxic and safe and is approved by both U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Food Safety Authority. No natural replacement for Brilliant Blue FCF has been found to colour beverages with natural blue dyes being either unstable, only blue in alkaline conditions or toxic.