Blue curacao has such a bad rap in some exotic cocktail circles. And probably for good reason - it conjures images of really crummy, watered down, artificial drinks you might see served on a cruise or at a Sandals resort. But used sparingly, I kind of love it. There's something very fun about a shockingly blue drink. So, when I was paging through Martin Cate's wonderful Smugger's Cove book and came across a drink that not only seemed relatively straightforward, but also contained all ingredients I had on hand including blue curacao, I figured I'd give it a try. It's also the first drink I've made in this series that uses tequila, which is a welcome change.
The Juan Ho Royale was created by Martin Cate himself, for the tiki bar Hula's in Santa Cruz, CA, in honor of a surf spot called Steamer Lane. Cate notes, on his use of blue curacao, "To capture the azure seas, I make a rare exception for blue curacao." Here's Cate's recipe:
2.00 oz. Champagne or sparkling wine
0.75 oz. fresh lime juice
0.50 oz. orgeat
0.50 oz. blue curacao
0.50 oz. John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum
1.50 oz. tequila blanco
Pour the sparkling wine into a chilled coupe. Add the remaining ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake with cracked or cubed ice. Double-strain into the chilled coupe.
He notes, "garnish - none" but I thought a lime wheel pinned to a cocktail cherry with a flamingo pick dressed this drink up nicely.
This was a nice departure from rum, which dominates many of the 31 previous drinks. As you can see, I used regular old Trader Joe's tequila blanco - nothing too fancy. Tequila blanco is tequila that has little or no aging so the alcohol presence or "burn" is felt a bit more than an aged tequila, as is the agave flavor. It might not be the best quality tequila, but mixed in this cocktail it was just fine. The agave and slight smokiness of the tequila are the most noticeable flavors, and the falernum adds a nice hint of spiciness. The sparkling wine's carbonation is also a nice feature, not something you get in many tiki drinks. And of course it's electric blue! This would be a really nice, simple cocktail to serve at holiday and New Years parties, the sparkling wine adding a bit of festivity.
A Note About PhotographyApart from wanting to learn more about exotic cocktails and their history, the other reason I started this project was to force myself to take more pictures and get better at it. I use a Nikon D300 DSLR for all the photos on this blog and lately, I've been experimenting with off-camera flash techniques for lighting. Of course there's plenty of inspiration for nicely photographing cocktails on Instagram, etc. which has been helpful. If you're also a photography geek who's been experimenting with off-camera flash, I'd love to hear from you. Tips? Tricks? Cool effects? Let me know!
I'll probably have at least one more post before 2016 comes to a close, but I'd like to wish you all a very mele kalikimaka and a fabulous New Year! Be safe, and enjoy.