My wife is pregnant again – yes, it’s mine – and to celebrate we hosted a gender reveal party where we all learned the gender of our new little one at once. It was actually a really good time. And being who I am I thought it necessary to serve a couple cocktails at the party – a pink cosmo and a blue curacao cocktail.
The pink one was a riff on Dale DeGroff’s classic cosmopolitan and as always it was good. But the show stopper was the blue cocktail – or by it’s proper name – the Corpse Reviver number Blue. Ok. Some back story.
Way back in the early days of mixology lived a man named Harry Craddock. Harry’s is inarguably the grandad of the current cocktail renaissance and was one of the earliest bar tenders to publish a book of his recipes – among them a tipple named for it’s ability to put a little life in your bones; the Corpse Reviver and later the Corpse Reviver #2.
In my search for a blue cocktail I stumbled upon riff on Harry Craddock’s’ old classic by New Zealand bartender Jacob Briars. His spin included equal parts blue curacao, gin, fresh lemon, Lillet blanc and a dash of absinthe serves straight up. Sounded interesting so I thought I’d give it a go.
What is blue curacao?
Blue curacao is a sweet orange liqueur that’s been dyed blue. Traditionally colored by the dried blue flowers of the Butterfly Pea blue curaçao is produced by a number of producers around the globe – from dutch Bols to caribbean producers. As with much of bar history, no body really knows the reason for coloring the orange liqueur though blue curaçao’s ability to stick around bars the world over is nothing short of amazing.
A word about Lillet Blanc
As a quick aside, Lillet Blanc is an amazing fortified white wine from Podensac France. It’s been sweetened with citrus liqueurs and about 85% Bordeaux. Lillet Blanc has an amazing fruity & floral nose of sweet melon and apricot and is absolutely fantastic on it’s own over ice or mixed into delicate cocktails.
Making the Blue Curacao Cocktail
So I mixed up a pitcher and set it out for the part as our friends and family sipped on the boozy blue drink. It was good. But not great.
In my estimation the drink was “too” everything. Too strong, too boozy, too lemony, too… just too much. And I couldn’t quite get my finger on what exactly the drink needed to be improved. All the elements were there but it just wasn’t working they way I wanted.
Inspiration -as it often does – came as an accident when I added a couple cubes of ice to my glass of and walked away for a bit. When I did get back to the blue curaçao cocktail the ice had melted substantially and diluted the drink – and it was perfect. Dilution was the secret.
It seemed to me that if more dilution was the key to softening the edges of this drink that maybe serving it straight up, while elegant, wasn’t the best delivery method. So I started thinking about some of the other ways to serve it and the mojito & mint julep offered inspiration. Crushed ice.
Crushed ice is a great solution because it melts faster – thus diluting the drink – and it chills the drink & glass perfectly. not to mention it looks fantastic.
So I tried that and it was better but somehow the brilliant blue curacao cocktail was still a little heavy on the palate. It needed a little lift and so borrowing from the fizz in went the club soda. And that worked, really well actually. And as I slowly crunched on crushed ice I started to wonder what carbonating the cocktail – rather than adding to it – would do for the blue drink.
Fortunately I have a soda siphon behind my bar and mixed up a liter of the tipple and and poured it in to the soda siphon. Pfffff went the CO2 as it infused into the liquid and after a quick shake the blue curaçao cocktail was sufficiently carbonated.
I poured it over the crushed ice and it was fantastic. Light bubbly, sweet, citrusy in perfect balance with the aromatic nose of licorice. We had arrived and was it delicious. I decided to rename the blue drink as I felt that I’d made enough incremental changes to make it my own. So here it is – nothing clever, nothing fancy – just simply the blue curacao cocktail.
Oh, and by the way, it’s a boy.
- 30 ml Blue Curacao Liqueur
- 30 ml Bombay Sapphire Gin
- 30 ml Fresh Lemon Juice
- 30 ml Lillet Blanc
- 1 dash Absinthe
- Lemon Peel for garnish
- Add all ingredients into soda siphon, soda stream or other carbonator.
- Infuse with CO2 and shake to incorporate the gas into the drink.
- Fill a collins glass to the brim with crushed ice.
- Top up with cocktail from soda siphon.
- Add more crushed ice as needed.
- Express oils from lemon peel over top of glass.
- Garnish with the spent lemon peel.