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How can Oranges be Blue? When they are in this Laraha-Based Liqueur from this Caribbean Island

Kelly Magyarics, Nightclub & Bar


Bon bini,” or “welcome,” is painted on the saffron-hued exterior walls of the distillery as we drive up. We’ve left our sunny beachfront cabana at the five-star Baoase Resort on this October afternoon because I’ve convinced our group that we can’t leave without touring this place. After all, how many islands also share a name with a type of booze that’s produced there?

To see how Curaçao the island is intrinsically linked to Curaçao the liqueur, you need look no further than any of the bright azure-tinged drinks available at its resort or beach bars.

Landhuis Chobolobo Distillery is home of the Genuine Curaçao Liqueur. It welcomes more than 100,000 visitors per year–a mixture of cruise and stay-over tourists–making it the top tourist attraction on the island. Curaçao Liqueur starts with the laraha orange, a bitter variety whose dried peels are macerated along with a spirit to make the distinctive orange-flavored liqueur that’s used in tropical tipples and other cocktails needing a burst of sweet citrus.

Until 2011, the distillery was located in a mansion and featured a small area with a gift shop. That year, a visitor center was built with a self-guided tour, and the mansion became a larger store; paid guided tours were added in 2016. The former is perfect for guests wanting to breeze on through, read some signs about how the hooch is produced, and then retreat to a tasting at the end (maybe before heading back to that aforementioned cabana). The latter “provides a more immersive experience for people who want to go deeper than just reading signs,” says marketing manager Sebastiaan Opschoor; the guided tours also end with a choice of a signature cocktail instead of just a spirits tasting.

Legend has it, Portuguese sailors on expedition were cured of scurvy after eating the indigenous citrus fruits. The island’s name, therefore, may have been derived from the Portuguese word “coraçao,” which means “heart” and “healing.” Unfortunately, the fruits aren’t particularly palatable on their own, so the Spaniards tried bringing over and planting their native Valencia oranges; however, they withered and died in the warm and sunny tropical climate.

Today, laraha oranges are hand-harvested and peeled with a wooden knife, then left to dry in the sun for five days.

Read the full article, originally published on December 6, 2016, on Nightclub & Bar.