Well, as some of you (ok who am I kidding, all of you) may know I have been unemployed for some time now which means I am running down to the end of my savings. I was recently going over my craptacular (yeah, it’s a word) budget form in Excell and found myself in a predictable-but-no-less-terrible cycle of elation and remorse.
- Open up the form, look at the column that tells me how much money I have. KICK ASS! I never fail to get ridiculously excited when I see that I actually have money in the bank because I have a brain problem where I am convinced that I earn as much money as I did back in high-school. It doesn’t matter how many years pile up between me and the days when I slogged plates of greasy diner fare , I will never stop believing that I earn $6.50 an hour and am therefore thrilled at every payday. It’s insane, but I think it’s good preparation for my retirement years.
- Scan over to the box where I see how much money has already been spent on things like bills, gas, my horse, food, you know the essentials, and die a little inside.
- Start moving all the figures from all the little boxes around, and then die a whole lot more inside. Like, if just a piece of my heart had withered up before, this would be, say, my entire lower half just completely shutting down.
- And if you think reading about me working through my budget is riveting, try actually being me…
In any event, running the gauntlet of total fiscal discouragement is enough to make anyone feel incredibly, thriftily thirsty. A drink is definitely called-for, but after realizing that I’ve spent more on Captain Morgan than gas this year, there’s no way I’m going out for something new.
No, it’s time to make the most of whatever’s already hanging around in the liquor cabinet. And how bad could that possibly be? Why would we ever buy something that we wouldn’t enjoy? There’s no chance that we’d have a bottle of something awful hanging aroun–
Oh hey, Blue Curaçao. It’s you. Yeah, no — I didn’t forget about you at all. I guess we just sort of fell out of touch, what with you tucked all the way back there behind the almost-empty bottle of Jagermeister and the souvenir bottle of wine we got at a friend’s wedding. Yes, you sure are virtually untouched, aren’t you? Gosh, it looks like barely two ounces were ever poured out of your bottle in the months and possibly years that we’ve had you.
…yeah, it would be a waste just to tuck you back into the cupboard. Sigh.
What? Oh no! I’m not brutally depressed at all. Just, you know, struggling with all the sugar caked around your lid here. Ha ha ha! Who’d have thought you’d have to work so hard just to get at booze you don’t actually want, huh?
Every household that has ever had a martini party, a tropical-themed backyard party or a novelty drink night has a bottle of Blue Curacao kicking around. In fact, even if none of those events have ever happened in your home, you might have a bottle lurking in the back of your cupboard anyway — in my more paranoid moments, I imagine that they just naturally sprout from the drippings of better liqueurs and then spread to take over the cabinet, like a 40-proof crabgrass.
The drink itself is a product of the island of Curacao, colonized by the Spanish in the 1500s.
Not actually all that great for cultivation, Curacao proved to be hostile to the Valencia oranges that the Spanish brought with them, which didn’t fare too well. The fruit turned bitter and developed into the dwarf Laraha orange, which in turn was allowed to grow wild until someone could come up with a use for it. Naturally, as with so many other fruits, plants, herbs, crops and anything else that is otherwise inedible, someone decided to see if they could make alcohol out of it.
Wouldn’t you know! It turns out that the natural oils in the Laraha peel are actually pretty fragrant, and when combined with some other botanicals can produce a clear, sweet liqueur that ranges in strength anywhere from 20 to 40 percent ABV. The blue is just a bonus! A teeth-staining, sticky bonus that’s meant to invoke the striking waters of the south Caribbean.
There are a number of varieties and brands of Blue Curacao, but I’m not sure you’ll find many connoisseurs out there to guide you between premium and dreck. There is an article out there who claims to be the Original Brand, for which one can expect to pay and Original Brand Price, but for most purposes it’s important to know what you can really expect. Namely:
- Curacao has a gritty sweetness to it that’s underscored, to varying degrees, with herbal flavors. Imagine if someone sugared your gin, and you’re in the right neighborhood.
- It’s blue. It’s unnaturally blue. It’s that same blue as in a Rocket Popcicle, and with nearly the same unholy effect on your tongue. All kidding aside, you don’t often get that kind of coloring opportunity in your booze, and it really can have some creative applications.
- It’s also pretty cheap. Unless you make a real effort, you’re unlikely to find an expensive bottle of Curacao. This is decorative booze on a budget.
But the real question is, when you’re heartbroken from assessing your personal finances, what the hell are you going to do with a bottle of this stuff?
1. Make Nerd Drinks
Apparently nerds everywhere are convinced that drinks from the future are blue, and therefore awesome. In fact, this is one of the rare points on which both Star Trek and Star Wars fans are forced to agree — and as a result, you get your choice of which fictional beverage you’d prefer to embarrass yourself by making.
Star Wars Blue Milk Cocktail:
- 1 oz Blue Curacao liqueur
- 1/3 oz creme de cacao
- 2 1/2 oz milk
Pour the milk over a single ice cube in a cocktail glass. Add blue curacao and creme de cacao simultaneously. Stir briefly, and serve.
- 12.5 oz Bacardi 151 Proof Rum
- 12.5 oz Vodka
- 12.5 oz Blue Curacao
Clean and prepare a 1 liter bottle, before combining equal measures of each ingredient in it. For best results, chill in your freezer for a couple of hours to achieve a syrupy texture. Take the time while you’re waiting to notify your next of kin, and ponder whether being a Star Wars fan might not preserve your lifespan.
2. Make Girl Drinks
Let’s be honest, despite all of your fantasies, most women do not actually enjoy knocking back ounce after ounce of straight Scotch whiskey.
Anyway, the important thing to take from this is that there’s always someone in your household who’s going to need girly drinks, and Curacao can definitely help in that. For example:
The Blue Lagoon is a sappy story about natural love or whatever, known among boys of my generation as the movie where Brooke Shields swam around naked. But did you also know that it’s a sappy, lightweight cocktail for people who don’t like the taste of alcohol very much?
The Blue Lagoon
- 1 oz. Vodka
- 1 oz. Blue Curacao
- 4 parts lemonade
Perfect in rock or highball glass with crushed ice, and served while boys grow tall, girls grow beautiful and love happens that is as powerful as the sea, or something.
3. Make a Classic
You know, or if all else fails, you can always work on crafting a classic. I did say that there aren’t a lot of Curacao Appreciation Societies out there, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that some of its feature drinks don’t have their passionate supporters.
Take the Mai Tai, for example, a drink that has seven different recipes and groups of Tiki cocktail purists who will argue vociferously about each one. Dare to include pineapple juice at your peril, jerk! Presume to use blue Curacao instead of orange and suffer their wrath! Put grenadine in there and your days are numbered, heathen! Here’s the “pure” edition from Senor Curacao of Curacao, as an example:
- 2 ounces 17-year-old J. Wray Nephew Jamaican rum
- 1/2 ounce French Garnier Orgeat
- 1/2 ounce Orange Curacao Liqueur
- 1/4 ounce Rock Candy Syrup
- juice from one fresh lime
“Shake with crushed ice, serve in a rocks glass, garnish with a mint sprig, one pineapple spear, and a cocktail cherry. And yes, it must have the mint garnish to be a mai tai. No float of dark rum. No 5 tropical fruit juices. No grenadine. No umbrella. No pineapple juice. No sour mix.”
Hear that? Yeah, that’s right, this is a recipe so exclusive that it actually has as many things that you DON’T add as there are things you DO. Because it’s THAT IMPORTANT, and Tiki enthusiasts will shun you forever if you screw it up. Of course, Tiki enthusiasts don’t have a constrained budget and a bunch of blue Curacao lying around, so I say improvise. Only you will know, and only you can decide whether authenticity is as delicious as the sweet, sweet flavor of saving a little money.
Blue Curacao doesn’t have to be the perpetually unwelcome guest in your liquor cabinet. As a liqueur it’s perfectly competent at delivering a mid-range alcoholic whallop, and its sweetness makes it accessible to almost anyone. And while the bright blue color can quickly turn your more common cocktails into swamp water, it also affords the opportunity to get a bit creative with your bad self.
Just brush your teeth afterwards.