Dye Dye Dye my Darling

We’re sure when Danzig sang these words he was talking about Blue Curacao. Okay probably not, but certainly some people wish the dye would die. It’s hard to sit down as someone who lives, breathes, and bleeds Tiki everyday and make the case for blue drinks as a positive force in Tiki drinking. The rub is I honestly believe they are. Inherently there’s nothing wrong with blue drinks save for a touch of pretty flavorless dye.

Blue Hawaii

The Problems

Some people rebel against dyes, and honestly I can’t blame them. When I can I also prefer natural colors. The dirty secret is your favorite high end craft spirt probably has coloring in it. Even the best rums and spirits ususally add come color to keep batches consistent. Dye’s can effect texture and flavor in some cases and it’s largely up to the manufacturer to choose as neutral a dye as they can. Honestly for 98% of the population you shouldn’t be able to taste a difference. Still it’s up to us to taste, account for any differences, and change recipes accordingly.

“It’s so artificial tasting!”, The common complaint and a valid one. Most blue curacaos are made with lousy product. Bols is considered to be the best of the bottom shelf orange liqueurs but even they taste insanely artifical. This problem is an easy fix, Buy better blue! It is out there.

Blue Curacao

“It’s not traditional/natural,” I’ve heard this from cocktailian friends. The truth is if your style is classic cocktail, speakeasy, spirituous then no it’s not. However Blue drinks and other wild colors are most definitely part of classic tiki mixology. From green creme de menthe in the 1947 Fu Manchu to Blue Curacao in just about every tiki bar since it came on the market. So yes even creme de banana and spirits like it can be part of a tiki bartender’s repitorie so long as the drink remains fresh, well balanced, and authentic in it’s flavor and style.

To us sweetness is a factor, there must be some sweetness in a curcao like Grand Marnier. This is why we haven’t rushed out to buy Pierre Ferrand because we tend to go for more Cointreau style triple sec liqueurs when we want a dry orange flavor. This is again because we’re more concerned with being classic Tiki, than pre-prohibition classic. Now this isn’t to say we don’t love Classic speakeasy cocktails and Preprohibition drinks. It also doesn’t mean we wouldn’t love to play with some Pierre Ferrand. But it does mean when it comes to Curacao fit for a Tiki god. We have…

The Solution

Senior Curacao

Senior Curacao

Nose: The Pith of Fresh peeled orange, fresh orange juice, green cut branches, and light fresh ginger notes.

Taste: Notes of real orange with a slight bitter twist. It is sweet, but not unnaturaly sweet. The body is somewhat thick but it ends with a sense of balance especially compared to comeptitors.

Overall: We do endorse Senior Curacao of Curacao’s and have a pretty big man crush on them. To preface this, we’ve never gotten freebies or compensation from them, and we’ve bought every sip we’ve had which came from more than a few bottles. The taste is sweet but also with tons of natural orange aroma and flavor. You’ll notice it really pulling it’s weight in cocktail’s it’s added to even in small amounts. It’s more expensive than Bol’s but way less expensive than Cointreau and Grand Marnier. We also like that it’s from the island itself, and the taste shows us they know what they are doing.


In the End

Drinking is supposed to be fun, especially when your talking Tiki. Crazy colors and dyes are as much a part of this as exotic spices and kitschy decor. It’s important to have a light touch with products like this, but remember to keep the cocktails balanced, fresh, classic, and fun.

We wanted to present a classic for this article. But we decided to take a classic that got kicked up by our favorite writer Jeff Berry in his book Remixed. We adore the movie Blue Hawaii here, and we also adore the Bum’s take on an old school sip that desperatly needed fixing. Don’t skip the cream! It really ties the whole affair together. Originally we wanted to twist this drink and make it our own. But the Bum couldn’t be topped in our opinion. So here it is.

Blue Hawaii1

Blue Hawaii

2 oz Fresh Pineapple Juice

¾ oz Fresh Lemon Juice

¾ oz Blue Curacao

¼ oz Sugar Syrup

½ tsp Heavy Cream

1 ½ oz Vodka

Shake with a lot of crushed ice and pour unstrained into a double old fashioned glass. We like to garnish with a nice piece of fresh pineapple.


This drink has a magically refreshing quality to it. It’s got the bright tang of pineapple with plenty of lemon sour. The cream gives it a wonderful fullness that really binds the drink and aids in it’s light color. An important lesson to take away from this is to use curacao in place of some of your regular sweeteners. While it can’t replace them entirely especially in the face of bold citrus, you can make it’s sweetness work for you. Until next time,

“You Get Hammered America!” – JFL


About JFL

Joey or JFL as he is known by friends is a culinary trained mixologist from the Heart of Dixie Birmingham, Alabama. From a weekly column in the St. Clair News Aegis to his own experiments online JFL never stops doing work on Tiki and Cocktails. When he's not studying all things spirit, wine, and beer he's pursuing his own odd interests such as cartoons, cheesy old horror movies, horror punk, hair metal, and hockey
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3 Responses to Dye Dye Dye my Darling

  1. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with keeping a bottle of the blue on the shelf, and you’ve just convinced me of the one I’ll be buying! Great post — thanks for the tip!

  2. I wish to show thanks to you for rescuing me from this particular predicament. Right after searching throughout the internet and coming across tricks that were not powerful, I thought my life was done. Living without the approaches to the difficulties you’ve sorted out through your guideline is a serious case, as well as those which may have badly damaged my career if I had not discovered your web blog. Your personal knowledge and kindness in playing with almost everything was vital. I am not sure what I would have done if I had not discovered such a stuff like this. I am able to at this point look forward to my future. Thanks for your time very much for the reliable and amazing guide. I won’t think twice to refer your blog to any person who should have guidelines about this area.

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