Sip from the icy blue waters of a Tropical Blue Lagoon—an explosion of exotic fruit flavors strengthened with vodka and served with a pineapple wedge.
Do I make tropical drinks because they’re tasty or do I make tropical drinks because they are pretty? That’s the question. Although perhaps the point is that I can’t stop making them, no matter the reason.
It’s that blue curacao. It’s as picturesque as the island of Curacao from which it gets its name. Funny that the Blue Lagoon cocktail derived its name from a book published in 1908, Blue Lagoon, which, I surmise, didn’t have pictures. Filmmakers saw an opportunity to right this wrong by producing film versions in the 1930s, 1940s, and the 1980s. The drink grew in popularity due to its similarity to this last edition of the film. Apparently, it was created during the ’60s/’70s, by Andy MacElhone, whose father Harry MacElhone, was the bartender at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. All it needed was an association with a Hollywood film to gain worldwide fame.
Some Caribbean drinks pair the blue curacao’s orange flavor with rum, but not this one. This one features vodka, so the booze isn’t the focus. Instead it’s all about the taste of the fruit, whether as the curacao or the pineapple and lime juices. Want a beautiful drink that tastes like a bowl full of tropical fruit? You’ve come to the right place.
What is Curacao?
More than just a type of liqueur, Curacao is the name of an island in the West Indies. Yes, it has the tranquil beaches of its Caribbean brethren but only Curacao has the laraha citrus fruit. From its dried peels comes curacao’s taste, which is reminiscent of citrus. In fact, if you were to hand a glass to a blind taste-tester, they would invariably claim it was orange. The tester would remove their blindfolds and expect to be holding an orange-colored beverage or, at the very least, a clear triple sec. Instead, in their hand would be a bright blue liquid; they would wonder why they didn’t taste blueberry. Such is the magic of the blue curacao. Many distilleries these days have sidestepped the confusion by producing orange-colored and clear varieties. Now, though your eyes and taste buds are back on talking terms, it comes at a cost: gone is the translucent blue tint, which is so much of the fun of drinks like the Blue Lagoon.
What is the Best Vodka to Use?
When making a Tropical Blue Lagoon, you’ll want a neutral spirit so the focus can go on the curacao. That’s why vodka is such a good base. Use a good brand and you’ll enjoy a clean and neutral alcohol that won’t disrupt the fruit flavors of the rest of the cocktail. Brands like Grey Goose, Belvedere, and Ketel One are synonymous with a smooth sip. If you want something smoother, reach for a vodka like Tito’s, which is triple distilled. Because vodka is such a neutral spirit, there is a multitude of flavored versions available. Give one a try once you’ve mastered the original recipe.
- 1 oz. vodka
- 1 oz. blue curacao liqueur
- 2 oz. pineapple juice
- 1/2 oz. lime juice
- splash lemonade to top up
- slice pineapple and a cherry (for garnish)
- ice cubes
- Fill a highball glass with ice cubes.
- Pour the vodka, blue curacao, pineapple and lime juice over the ice.
- Fill the rest of the glass with lemonade and stir gently.
- Garnish your drink with a pineapple wedge and maraschino cherry.
Tips & Tricks to Making a Perfect Tropical Blue Lagoon
- Use fresh fruit juices (and fruit, for that matter). Pre-packaged juices taste synthetic and usually contain additives you don’t need.
- Add a splash of soda water for a sparkling Tropical Blue Lagoon.
- You can put the “shake or stir” dilemma aside by layering. Pour the blue curacao, vodka, juices, then lemonade, in that order. Do so over the back of a spoon to control flow.
- Rim your glass with colored sugar for a visual and tasty treat.
Other Cocktails That Use Blue Curacao
Blue Curacao Mocktail: Drop the vodka and blue curacao. Use food coloring to maintain the bright blue tint.
Blue Hawaii: Utilizes vodka AND rum as a base, then adds the curacao, pineapple juice, and sweet ‘n’ sour mix.
Blue Hawaiian Punch: Light rum, blue curacao, pineapple juice, and cream of coconut served over ice.
Blue Lagoon: Vodka, Blue Curacao, and lemonade.
Sparkling Blue Hawaii: Rum, vodka, Blue Curacao, and sparkling wine, pineapple juice, and sweet ‘n’ sour mix