So… one of the first questions not covered in the textbook at the bar tending school I used to work for that I encountered was: Why is Curacao blue? At first I was at a loss- which I HATE. But I’d never given it any thought. So after that I started researching these cultural questions not answered in the technical manual. The school I worked in allowed for lots of personalization in the classroom, as long as the students could DO everything right I could add all the flair I wanted to. My classes started getting more and more interesting.
Curacao comes from the Portuguese word for heart. It is actually the name of the Island on which this exotic looking liqueur hails. It’s, as many of you already know, orange flavored. So how did that happen? Most of the people on that Island speak Dutch, Creole or Papiamentu. It’s in the southern Caribbean! It wasn’t ever claimed by Portugal! What Gives? The place has a Portuguese name! Seems that they passed it over after they didn’t find any gold deposits there. It became a trading post during European colonization. It was the Heart of trade in the area and became a profitable little island. Salt mines were discovered giving them their own product.
Then along came the Seniors, a Jewish Portuguese family with a dream. They planted Valencia orange trees on their plantation and worked the land and finally the trees bore fruit… but the conditions of the soil on the island couldn’t supply the trees with the proper nutrients to produce the big, juicy, sweet globes of gold we think of when we think of Valencias. They had small, bitter little balls of yuck. But the skins were fragrant and bright, so they made the best out of a bad situation. They infused a clear liqueur with those skins, called the oranges Laharas and dyed the clear booze blue, like the gorgeous water around their beloved new home. Of course now-a-days if you know where to look you can get Curacao in any color you like, it all will taste the same. Blue is still the first color that comes to mind when one hears the word, though… I wonder if Crayola makes a Curacao crayon?