Published On: Sat, Dec 22nd, 2012

For a tropical Christmas add Curacao to your cocktails

WILLEMSTAD – Curaçao liqueur is a liqueur which is traditionally produced on the island of Curaçao in the Caribbean. In addition to being produced on Curaçao, this liqueur is also made in some other regions of the world, and you can even make it at home, should you so desire. Curaçao liqueur is used in a variety of mixed drinks, perhaps most notably the Blue Hawaiian, and it tends to be included in drinks with a tropical or exotic theme.

The history of Curaçao liqueur is quite interesting. When the Spanish colonized the Caribbean, they brought along a number of European plants to cultivate, including Spain's famous Valencia oranges. However, the oranges did not grow as expected in the Caribbean, turning sharply bitter. Farmers abandoned the oranges, allowing them to run wild, but in the 19th century, adventurous cooks realized that the peels had an intensely flavorful aromatic oil which could perhaps be used in cooking.

The Senior family decided to make a liqueur with the peels of the Valencia oranges, known as larahas on Curaçao to differentiate them from their Spanish relatives, and Curaçao liqueur was born. The popularity of the liqueur led other producers to follow suit, marketing their own versions, not all of which are made with lahara peels. Connoisseurs believe that the best Curaçao liqueur comes from distillers on Curaçao, using lahara peels to made the traditional version of this beverage.

Curaçao liqueur is made by steeping the dried laraha peels in a still, along with other spices and some sugar. After a set steeping period, the liqueur is allowed to settle to remove sediment, and then bottled. Curaçao liqueur is clear when it is first produced, but many producers add colorings. Blue Curaçao is a famous variant on the traditional drink, and it may also be colored orange, green, red, or yellow. The liqueur has a pronounced orange flavor and a hint of bitterness which is tempered by the sugar.

To make Curaçao liqueur at home, dried lahara peels can be steeped in vodka along with whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, and sugar. The liqueur should be allowed to steep in a cool, dry place for around five weeks before been strained and then allowed to sit so that the sediment will settle to the bottom. After the settling, the Curaçao liqueur can be carefully poured into a fresh bottle and then used as desired.

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