Blue Hawaii

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Hey Jeffrey

I used to frequent Pépé Le Moko a few years back when I lived in Portland, my go-to drink was always the blue Hawaii. I always stop by for several when I’m in town.

I have been trying to recreate it for my girlfriend’s upcoming tiki-themed 21st birthday party, and I have tried several recipes, and none of them compare to the pure beauty of your Blue Hawaii.

Anyway you could help me out with blue Hawaii recipes, ratios, tips? Even if it’s just a rough outline. I really appreciate it, and I absolutely love keeping up with your blog.


You got it! But first a little background.

I’m over the fact that I’ve taken a fair amount of flak for having the audacity to celebrate some of the most reviled drinks in recent history: The Grasshopper.,the Long Island Iced Tea, and the Amaretto Sour. These relics from a time when the quality of a cocktail was surely superseded by its ability to hide its alcohol then started being taken seriously. Our bar in the basement of the Ace Hotel in Portland sells out of Grasshoppers on a nightly basis. And the Amaretto Sour can now be found on respectable cocktail menus all over the world.

But there’s one ingredient deemed so untouchable that only the bravest of cocktail bartenders dare touch it, and that’s Blue Curaçao. Now, pretty much any quality-minded cocktail bartender you’ll talk to will tell you that Blue Curaçao is off limits for one reason, and one reason only: it’s artificially colored.

To really understand curaçao, you have to know a thing or two about the history of the orange. Spanish settlers in the sixteenth century tried to cultivate Valencia oranges on the Caribbean island of Curaçao, and failed. The intense heat and dry climate produced oranges with little to no juice, and thick, oily peels. Not much use for juicing, but great for making a bitter orange liqueur which would eventually become known as Curaçao. The Senior Company in Curaçao was likely the first to begin adding artificial colors to their line of orange liqueurs.

We’re programmed these days to think of artificial colors being limited to the more neon areas of the spectrum, but that sort of naïveté ignores the fact that most fine single-malt Scotches contain some artificial or processed coloring. Cognac is an even bigger offender of the practice. As is Armagnac. And if you pick up a $100 bottle of aged rum and don’t think it contains artificial color – and flavor! – I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

While summer is still heaving its last gasp and you can still drink one of these things without looking completely insane, just try it. It’s a balanced cocktail when made right, it’s named after a Bing Crosby tune, and it even inspired a pretty bad Elvis Presley movie. Things could be worse, believe me.

Blue Hawaii Print Me

  • 1 oz light rum (try Banks 5 Island Blend)
  • ½ oz vodka
  • ¾ oz pineapple syrup
  • ¾ oz lemon juice
  • ¾ oz blue curaçao
  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker
  2. Shake with ice cubes until cold
  3. Strain over crushed ice in a tall glass
  4. Garnish with a pineapple wedge

Recipe printed courtesy of

10 Replies to “Blue Hawaii”

  • Alex says:

    What’s the purpose of the vodka in this cocktail?

    Would just using 1.5 oz rum instead have too much rum flavor, while the drink wouldn’t have enough alcohol bite without it?

  • Ryan says:

    Hopefully not too late to the party but what’s a decent brand of blue Curacao to get?

  • Anna says:

    *for the upcoming party

  • Anna says:

    Hi, Jeffrey! Thank you for sharing the recipe for that nice cocktail. It seems so fresh though it’s alcohol. Probably because of lemon in it.
    And I appreciate you give some interesting information about Blue Curaçao origin. I’ve never heard about all that though I’ve been using this liqueur for a long time. It’s always so good to find out something new! By the way, I was also skeptical about colorants in it, but now I see they’re everywhere, unfortunately. So, we’re all in danger 😀
    Thank you for the recipe once again. Can’t wait to the upcoming party and try!

  • Emily K says:

    So glad someone already mentioned Campari in the comments.

  • Liz says:

    Had one of these at Pepe le Moko a couple weeks ago. It tasted like a melted lollipop, in the best possible way.

  • TONY says:

    You make a great point. I always find it ironic that most bartenders look down at blue curacao just because it’s artificially colored but they’re ok with Campari and that’s artificially colored too.

  • In the defense of rum, I have several bottles of $100+ rum that contain no artificial color or additives, but they are few and far between.

  • NickS says:

    Looking forward to trying this!

    Stella Parks pineapple syrup would be a great bet for anyone making a syrup at home. The 5oz yield from the normally tossed core/pips of a single pineapple is enough for 6+ cocktails.

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