Curaçao is an aromatic liqueur that is made from the dried rind of a type of bitter orange known as laraha. By tradition, the liqueur is produced on the island of the same name that is part of the Netherlands, located in the south part of the Caribbean Sea, not far from Venezuela.
Curaçao is produced without any specific color but manufacturers add blue, green, red or orange food colorant. Fans of the drink know that the most popular is blue Curaçao, often used by bartenders to add color to all sorts of cocktails.
History of Curaçao
As with the majority of all great discoveries, so too was the flavorful Curaçao discovered completely by accident. This happened on the beautiful island of Curaçao in the long passed 19th century. Its creator was the head of the European Senior family.
One afternoon he sat, deep in thought, on the balcony of his plantation house. The man was worried about the orange harvest that was gathered that same day. He had been hoping to get large and juicy fruits but instead they turned out to be small, dry and wrinkled.
He had also heard from his workers that their taste was highly bitter. In a feat of desperation, the plantation owner grabbed one of the oranges in his hands and crushed it. But to his disbelief, an enticing bitter-sweet scent suddenly wafted from it.
The man's discovery gave him great hope and he decided to try to make an alcoholic drink from the peels of the sub-par oranges. Enthusiastic, he spent a lot of efforts and carried out all kinds of experiments for a long time until he finally obtained the drink we now know as Curaçao.
And even if those oranges were ignored in those years, today they are considered a real treasure since they only grow on the islands of Curaçao and Aruba. The hot climate, lack of heavy rains and specific local soil all contribute to the unique qualities of the final harvest.
Production of Curaçao
For more than a century now, this fascinating liqueur has been prepared according to its original recipe. The drink is produced by the company Senior & Co, thanks to which they produce 40 000 to 60 000 liters of it annually. As far as the production technique, the manufacturers say that there's nothing to it.
Even so they prefer to keep some parts of the recipe secret. What is known is that to make Curaçao they use a 115-year-old copper vat, a blue barrel, a silver reservoir and bottling equipment.
To start off, they take the dried peels of the oranges. Besides them, they also use various types of herbs and spices, the names of which are also kept secret. They put all of these ingredients in the copper vat, then pour in 96% ABV spirits. The mixture is heated to 300°F (150°C) and is left to boil for 72 hours. The next step is to cool the substance for 24 hours. The next day, more water is added to the copper vat and it is boiled once again.
Because of the high temperatures, the alcohol evaporates, then condenses along the cooling equipment. It is then time for perhaps the most painstaking step of the production process - the distillate is drained into the aforementioned blue barrel. This continues for several days until the 55 gal (208 L) container is filled.
The resulting liquid is extremely potent and if consumed directly has the potential to cause serious health problems. According to the experts, the consequences can even be fatal. That is why the liquid is mixed with almost half a ton of sugar and water in the silver reservoir. A bit more spirits are added too. Throughout the next several days, the alcohol is filtered and finally bottled.
Characteristics of Curaçao
Curaçao comes in a variety of colors, among which are blue, red, green and orange. The liqueur is distinguished by an orange aroma but possesses pleasant bitter notes as well. Its taste reminds of citruses, while its sweetness is intrusive. Of course, some types are not that sweet. The alcohol by volume usually falls in the interval between 15-40%.
Choosing and Storing Curaçao
Curaçao is sold in most specialized liquor stores. It is found in glass bottles, which fully reveal the color and charm of the drink. The price varies but is usually lower than liqueurs such as Baileys.
When buying this beverage, always check the date of expiration written on the label. As far as storage - Curaçao needs to be kept in a dark and cool area. Also, don't forget to always keep the bottle tightly closed. This will preserve the aroma of the drink longer.
Cocktails with Curaçao
Curaçao can be served on its own (with a little ice) but is more often added to different cocktails, especially layered cocktails which grab the eye with their multicolored tones. It is combined with other alcoholic beverages including peach liqueurs, tequila, vodka, gin, rum, mint and whiskey. It can also be combined with nonalcoholic drinks like orange juice, lemon juice, pineapple juice, lemonade, sparkling water and others.
Here is a recipe for a cocktail with Curaçao, which will dazzle you with its freshness.
Ingredients: 3 1/3 tbsp vodka, 2 tbsp blue Curaçao, 2/3 cup Sprite, several slices of pineapple for decoration.
Preparation: Put ice and the drinks in a blender. Blend until you get a homogeneous mixture. Pour the resulting liquid in a cocktail glass. Decorate with the pineapple slices.