Curacao – David Embury

A drink in which curacao only is substituted for sugar syrup is the


2 parts curacao

1 part Lemon Juice

6 Parts Whisky

Shake or stir with cracked ice. Drop a twist of lemon peel into each drink

Curacao is a small island of the Venezuelan coast to the south of the Caribbean. In the great colonisation of the Caribbean it was overlooked at first as it didn’t have gold, so what was the point. The Dutch were soon attracted to it as it has a natural harbour, and it turned into a important port, especially for pirates who were using it as a base, and as long as they left the Dutch alone, the authorities didn’t care.

The first, soon to be disappointed, Spanish gold seekers also bought crops to the island, including the bitter Seville orange, which over time developed into a local speciality called the Laraha. This was an orange that was completely inedible, but which had a skin whose oils were incredibly aromatic. The Dutch at the time, when they weren’t galivanting around like Vikings with firearms, were becoming masters of distillation. The company Bols sought this orange out and started making a liqueur with it, added some spices, including an ‘element of alchemical mystery’ (blue food colouring) and Blue Curacao was born. The original curacao, not the blue, was the first orange flavoured liqueur ever produced. We have this weird little citrus on a tiny island on the far side of the Caribbean to thank for every cocktail with an orange liqueur inside, that means you Margarita.

I make a straight swap when I see this in a recipe for Cointreau, Cointreau always seems like it has more of a kick to it. To be fair its been a long time since I’ve tried Curacao, and after reading some more on it I wonder if I’ve been harsh by ignoring it, the ‘spices’ have piqued my interest. Today I made it with Cointreau, and as the ratios lean in its favour over the lemon its less of a ‘sour’ style drink, and despite it looking a little dull on paper I really enjoyed it.