When Life gives you lemons, make lemonade or in this case when life gives you oranges make Curacao. According to Wikipedia Curacao is a liqueur flavoured with the dried peel of the laraha citrus fruit, grown on the island of Curaçao. A non-native plant similar to an orange, the laraha developed from the sweet Valencia orange transplanted by Spanish explorers. The nutrient-poor soil and arid climate of Curaçao proved unsuitable to Valencia cultivation, resulting in small bitter fruit on the trees. But the aromatic peel maintained much of the essence of the Valencia varietal, and the trees were eventually bred into the current laraha species, whose fruits remain inedibly bitter.
The drink was first developed and marketed by the Senior family (a Jewish family of Spanish and Portuguese descent) in the 19th century. To create the liqueur the laraha peel is dried, bringing out the sweetly fragranced oils. After soaking in a still with alcohol and water for several days, the peel is removed and other spices are added.
The liqueur has an orange-like flavour with varying degrees of bitterness. It is naturally colourless, but is often given artificial colouring, most commonly blue, which confers an exotic appearance to cocktails and other mixed drinks—given that almost no drinks or other foodstuffs exist that are truly blue by nature.
The liqueur itself is smooth, and I mean really, really smooth. We found an old bottle in FIL’s liquor cabinet that must have been 50 years old, but oh it was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good. Several shots later we were all convinced we’d found the next great thing to sliced bread.
She’ll be bringing back some new bottles and these days they make it in many flavors, all of which I want to use in desserts too. Some other liqueurs are also sold as Curaçaos with different flavors added, such as coffee, chocolate, and rum and raisin.