Curacao liqueur is a sweet liqueur flavored from the dried peel of bitter oranges. It also contains lemons, sugar, wine and the main ingredient Curacao fruit which is also known as laraha citrus. Curacao was first developed by The Senior Family in the 19th century. Laraha peel was dried to bring out the sweetly fragranced oils. The dried peel is soaked in alcohol and water for an extended period of time before being removed to allow other spices and ingredients to be added.
The fruits used in the liqueur are mostly grown on the Caribbean island of Curacao. The laraha is related to the sweet Valencia orange which Spaniards brought to grow on the island. However, the nutrient deficient soil and arid climate of Curacao was unsuitable and resulted in a small bitter fruit growing on the Valencia trees. While the fruit is inedibly bitter, the aromatic peel produces a delicious and distinctive flavor.
Curacao Liqueur has an orange flavor of varying degrees of bitterness and it is naturally colorless. In this colorless form it is sold at White Curacao. However, Curacao liqueur is generally artificially colored and used to color cocktail and give them an exotic appearance. The most commonly seen Curacao liqueur is Blue Curacao, but it is also found in Orange or Green varieties. The taste of Curacao is the same whether it is the White, Blue, Orange or Green variety, the only difference is how it will color the drink you are adding it to. There are also some other liqueurs which are marketed as Curacaos which have different flavors including coffee, chocolate or rum and raisin. However, these are not true Curacaos, only the liqueur flavored with the bitter orange peel is a genuine Curacao Liqueur.
Curacao liqueur is manufactured by a number of popular liqueur brand names including DeKuyper, Hiram Walker, Marie Brizard and McGuiness. However, the leading brand in most of the world is Bols, so much so that Blue Curacao is more commonly known as "Blue Bols" regardless of the actual brand name!
Curacao liqueur is not generally drank on its own, it is much more suited to use in cocktails and there are hundreds of variations. Although the different colors of Curacao taste similar, as it is primarily used for appearance purposes, using the correct color is important. The following selection of cocktails feature various variants of Curacao liqueur.