Serve Up Some Blue Drinks At Your 4th Of July Cookout

There's more than one way to make your patriotic cocktails that stars-and-stripes shade.

Fourth of July is right around the corner, so get ready to start seeing a whole lot of red, white, and blue. Whether or not you're feeling particularly patriotic this year, you should still be able to enjoy the great joys of the holiday: a whole lot of grilled food and way too much to drink. And why not use the occasion to create not just the classic blueberry and strawberry flag cake, but also an Instagram-ready, bright blue cocktail. That doesn't mean that you'll be chugging a candy-flavored fish bowl, either—there are plenty of ways to make blue curaçao cocktails or get even more creative with how you add the hue to your drinks.

What is blue curaçao exactly?

Because of its distinct color and association with hangover-inducing tropical drinks, blue curaçao often gets a bad rap. But on its own, the liqueur is actually delightfully sweet, with a bitter edge to keep things from getting too saccharine. When used correctly, it makes for a tasty and fun cocktail.

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Despite the color for which it's named, blue curaçao is actually flavored with the dried peel of a bitter citrus fruit called the Lahara that is naturally green or orange. According to The Atlantic, in its truest form the liqueur is actually clear. That original liqueur was created on the Caribbean island Curaçao and would be dyed with food coloring to come in many different hues for purely decorative purposes. It was when Dutch company Bols developed its own blue-colored version of curaçao that caused that particular shade to rise to popularity, garnering its own name.

If you want to try your hand at making homemade curaçao, Liquor.com offers a recipe that can ultimately be turned into any color. But if you want to replicate the vibrant look of some classic, ocean-inspired cocktails, then stick with the blue. It takes 20 days to steep, so it won't be ready for your Fourth of July barbecue, but it will get you ultimate bragging rights at any late summer cocktail parties.

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Go-to blue curaçao cocktails

Perhaps the most famous blue cocktail is the Blue Hawaii: a mix of vodka, rum, pineapple juice, sweet and sour mix, and, of course, blue curaçao. For a spin, try the Blue Hawaiian, which includes cream of coconut or blend with ice and serve frozen. The drink was invented in Honolulu in 1957 as a promo cocktail for Bols' bottled blue curaçao, according to Liquor.com, and the drink rose to popularity in the 1960s following the release of the Elvis Presley movie of the same name.

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If you're looking to get royally blasted (and potentially spew blue later), look no further than the Adios, Motherfucker—or "Walk Me Down," if you're watching your language. This bad boy is essentially a blue Long Island Iced Tea: you'll mix vodka, rum, tequila, and gin with blue curaçao and a lemon-lime soda instead of triple sec and cola as you would with the Tea.

And speaking of triple sec, as far as flavor profiles go, blue curaçao can be a close enough stand-in for triple sec or other orange liqueurs in any cocktail recipe if you want to add that tint. That means classic drinks like Margaritas, Sidecars, and Cosmopolitans can be made with blue curaçao, though of course the actual shade of blue you get will depend on how much of the other non-clear ingredients you're adding. Channel your inner artist and play around with different amounts of each, tasting along the way to get the perfect balance of color and flavor. It's like a drinkable paint palette.

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Other ways to turn your cocktails blue

Part of the reason blue curaçao needs to be colored with food dye and is one of the only blue-infused cocktail mixers is that blue isn't a color that often occurs naturally. And because is a primary color, it can't easily be created from scratch by mixing other shades together like you would for, say, a green cocktail.

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I asked my friend Morgana Bacon (her real name), a former bartender and bar manager, for suggestions on how else to achieve a true stars and stripes blue, and while she confirms that blue curaçao or straight-up blue food coloring is the best way to affect the color of the liquid you're drinking, she says you can get creative with your garnishes for a different splash of color.

For example, serve up a white sangria garnished with frozen blueberries to keep them from muddling and turning the cocktail purple. If you want to go even classier, find some edible blue flowers and freeze them into plain ice cubes that can be used in just about any drink, alcoholic or not. And of course, you can always just drop a blue freeze pop into a vodka soda and call it a day. It's your Fourth of July drink and you have the freedom to make it as fancy or simple as you like.

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