Words by Simon Difford
Curaçao liqueurs are traditionally made from the dried peel of the small bitter Curaçao orange, named for the Caribbean island of Curaçao, where this particular variety grows. As Curaçao was a Dutch colony, it supplied oranges to the liqueur makers of Holland, but curaçao liqueurs are now also produced from other bitter and sweet orange varieties.
Curaçao liqueurs can be translucent or coloured blue, red and orange. The colours are purely decorative and were developed for cocktail bartenders, although the flavour of each colour may differ slightly, with a producer creating slightly different styles.
The most popular and enduring style of curaçaos are orange curaçaos, which, as the name suggests, are orange/amber in colour, usually due to a combination of botanical infusions and colouring but sometimes also due to brandy being an ingredient.
Triple secs are translucent 'dry' orange liqueurs (not that dry – over 200 grams of sugar p/l) made with orange distillate, neutral alcohol, sugar and water. Compared to curaçao liqueurs, triple secs are one-dimensional orange in their flavour profile, as curaçao liqueurs are also based on distillates of orange but with additional vanilla, herbs and spices. Curaçaos may include infusions and distillates. Generally, curaçaos also tend to be a little sweeter.
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