20 best Blue Curaçao cocktails
Words by Simon Difford
Blue curaçao equals BLUE DRINKS, or at least various shades of aquamarine. There are numerous other orange-flavoured liqueurs but blue curaçao stands out as the only vivid blue ingredient to be found in bars across the world. And like many things from the 1970s, blue drinks are "retro" and so back in vogue. Here's our best blue curaçao cocktails.
Gun Metal Blue
With: Mezcal, blue curaçao, lime juice, crème de pêche and cinnamon syrup.
We say: Orange, peach and cinnamon delicately flavour this mezcal-based Margarita riff.
With: Vanilla vodka, coconut liqueur, lime juice, pineapple juice, egg white and blue curaçao.
We say: A great-looking holiday cocktail that's broaching on Tiki in style.
With: blue curaçao, gin, lemon juice and egg white.
We say: From W. J. Tarling's 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book, this striking looking cocktail packs a whopping 45ml (1½oz) of blue curaçao but is far from being a "disco drink"
With: Añejo tequila, mezcal, maraschino, lime juice, lavender syrup, blue curaçao and sugar syrup.
We say: A Breaking Bad blue crystal meth inspired Margarita-like mix of seven ingredients.
With: Gin, blue curaçao, peach schnapps and lemon juice.
We say: Dick Bradsell created this 90s' "Martini" for an Agent Provocateur swimwear launch.
With: Light white rum, vodka, blue curaçao, pineapple juice, lime juice, lemon juice and sugar syrup.
We say: Aloha! A 1957 Tiki classic from Henry Kaiser's Hawaiian Village Hotel in Waikiki, Hawaii.
Blue Velvet Margarita
With: Tequila, triple sec, blue curaçao and lime juice.
We say: A lurid but tasty Margarita from the Velvet Margarita Cantina.
Corpse Reviver No. Blue
With: Gin, Lillet Blanc, blue curaçao, lemon juice and absinthe.
We say: A revered classic cocktail blue-rinsed by Jacob Briars.
With: Light rum, blue curaçao, lime juice, lemon juice, sugar syrup and egg white.
We say: A foam-topped blue riff on two classic cocktails which honours two men named Cox, in addition to the headline Hannah Sharman-Cox.
Sidecar No. Blue
With: Cognac, blue curaçao, lemon juice, sugar syrup and egg white.
We say: Blue curaçao replaces the more usual triple sec in this Sidecar to give it a blue hue.
Blue Eyed Martini
With: Vodka, gin, dry vermouth and blue curaçao.
We say: A blue-rinsed Vodka Martini with a hint of piney gin.
With: Gin, calvados, blue curaçao, dry vermouth, lemon juice and sugar syrup.
We say: This aquamarine blue, delicately fruity gin-based cocktail comes from W. J. Tarling's 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book.
With: Vodka, blue curaçao, lime juice and lemon-lime soda.
We say: This cocktail is also known as The Swimming Pool and lounging beside one, or at least imagining you are, is what this cocktail is about.
Blue Curaçao cocktail history
Looking back through vintage cocktail books to establish when blue curaçao first started to appear in cocktail recipes reveals the use of blue food colouring before a blue-coloured liqueur. For example, in Patrick Gavin Duffy's 1934 Official Mixer's Manual, the Blue Bird, Blue Moon and Blue Monday cocktails all call for "1 Dash Blue Vegetable Extract". Indeed, "blue extract" also features in the Blue Bird in the first book I've found calling for blue curaçao, the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book.
This vintage book literally has pages of blue curaçao recipes, a whopping 22 different cocktails with an additional one with blue food colouring. The Café Royal Cocktail Book was written by William J. "Billy" Tarling and the only cocktail to use food colouring rather than the obviously then newly fashionable blue liqueur was created by his older brother Arthur Tarling, head bartender at London's Café Royal.
I've read claims that in 1912, Bols launched a blue curaçao called Crème de Ciel (literally 'cream of sky') after the success of the 1907 Miss Hook of Holland musical, the plot of which revolves around a secret recipe for a "Cream of the Sky" liqueur. Tellingly, the recipe for the Blue Skies cocktail in the Café Royal book features both "Blue Curaçao (Garnier)" and "Crème of the Sky (Bols)" leading me to question if Crème de Ciel was indeed a blue curaçao. After all, why use two blue curaçaos in the same recipe?
Another 1937 book, the third edition of The Victoria Wine Company's Here is Something That Will Interest You includes two blue curaçao cocktails and it could be that the earlier editions (which I don't have access to) contain the first use of blue curaçao in a cocktail recipe. (Hopefully, someone will answer this and the question over Crème de Ciel in the comments box below.)
Two of the cocktails above come from The Café Royal book, the Darlington and the Blue Lady.