If you’ve followed us for any length of time, you’ve probably realised that Blue Curaçao is something we’ve managed to artfully ignore. It’s partly due the colour, it’s partly due to the ‘70s overtones but it’s mainly due to the necessity for tiny umbrellas to be used ion any cocktails accosted with it.
Not that there is anything technically wrong with tiny umbrellas. They look bright, they look fun and they scream time off in the sun. But I think if Harrison Ford made us at all aware of anything in his 1988 film, Working Girl it’s also that they tend to look quite ridiculous.
But my avoidance came to a head the other day when Nick Tesar from Marionette Liqueurs sent me a tiny sample of Blue Curaçao they will be releasing on an unsuspecting public at the beginning of next week. For the last couple of days, it has been sitting on my coffee table (for no other reason than I simply haven’t put it away) and my eye keeps getting drawn to it.
And then the other night as I was watching the mess that the US seem to be making with their government transition, I started to wonder if, like the Republican Party itself, I was hanging onto massive misconceptions. Is there a case for Blue Curaçao and should I really be giving this vibrant little liqueur a chance?
Tesar, of course, thinks I should, saying: “After a pretty tough year for all, we thought that a bit of not so serious fun was called for!” And there I think lies my problem. Surrounded by a cupboard full of truly earnest Liqueurs and spirits, I have been trying to take Blue Curaçao far too seriously.
Now if you haven’t yet come across Blue Curaçao before it is essentially an orange liqueur dyed blue. While the liqueur is naturally clear, the electric blue colouring was originally added to give the liqueur an exotic and easily brand-able appeal.
Although Tesar would have you believe that Marionette has spent years carefully cultivating Blue Mandarins, he does admit the liqueur is actually coloured with food colouring. “We tried every natural colouring agent we could get our hands-on,” he said, “but none of them were right. So it’s food dye”.
There is some confusion as to the history of Blue Curaçao, it is believed to have first been created shortly after the turn of the 20th century. But whether it was Senior & Co, a company started on the island of Curaçao, or instead of the Dutch Bols Liqueurs who first applied the colour, will probably never be known.
The colouring doesn’t (or shouldn’t) influence the flavour in any way, so even though you’re drinking blue, you’re actually tasting orange. Or as Tesar describes the ingredients of the marionette Blue Curaçao: “It’s a blend of orange distillate, orange sugar, orange water and mandarin tincture. All the citrus.”
Although it’s definitely packaged differently, Blue Curaçao is still very much an expression that showcases the fruit from the farmers that Marionette work with. They use mandarins (as opposed to blood oranges in their regular orange curaçao) to give a bright confected citrus.
“At work (Bar Liberty in Melbourne) I have got a blue Japanese slipper on the menu. I think Blue Margaritas with friends is definitely a vibe,” he said. “I think that cocktails are fun. This is very obviously a fun and light-hearted product. Hopefully, it allows everyone to share a bit of joy”