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Blue Hawaii is an ultra-sweet and colorful cocktail that has become a quintessential tropical drink over the years. If you’ve ever wondered what exactly gives this fruity concoction its vivid blue color and signature flavor, read on to learn all about the key ingredients that make up blue Hawaii.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Blue Hawaii gets its name from the bright blue color. The flavor comes from a mixture of pineapple juice, sweet & sour mix, rum, Curacao liqueur, and sometimes vodka or gin.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about the origins of the blue Hawaii drink, the ingredients that give it the recognizable blue color and sweet flavor, how to make an authentic blue Hawaii at home, variations on the classic recipe, and the best tips for garnishing and serving this iconic tiki cocktail.

The Origins and History Behind the Blue Hawaii Cocktail

Created in Waikiki in 1957

The refreshing Blue Hawaii cocktail first made its mark on the tropical drink scene in 1957 at the Hawaiian Village Hotel in Waikiki. Donn Beach, also known as “the father of tiki drinks”, created the vivid blue concoction one fateful day while bartending at the hotel’s bar.

According to legend, Beach was experimenting with different rum-based drinks when he decided to add some blue food coloring to the mix. The resulting neon blue liquid immediately caught the attention of hotel guests. Intrigued by the tropical color, people began ordering the mystery drink in droves.

And thus, the famous Blue Hawaii was born.

Quickly became a classic tiki drink

It didn’t take long for the Blue Hawaii to skyrocket from a small hotel bar novelty to a globally recognized symbol of Hawaiian culture and island relaxation. By the early 1960s, the drink’s fame had spread across the mainland US.

Travelers returning home from vacations filled with Blue Hawaii cocktails spurred demand at bars and restaurants nationwide.

The drink even captured Hollywood’s attention. Iconic films set in Hawaii like Blue Hawaii starring Elvis Presley featured the distinctive blue cocktails in various scenes. This cemented the Blue Hawaii as the quintessential Hawaiian tropical drink in the public imagination.

Paying homage to the blue Hawaiian waters

So why make a cocktail bright blue in the first place? While some chalk it up as a marketing gimmick, the blue color is actually an homage to Hawaii’s famously clear, blue ocean waters. Just one sip will mentally transport you straight to the shores of Waikiki beach.

The Blue Hawaii’s blend of rum, pineapple juice, sweet and sour mix, and blue curaçao perfectly encapsulates the flavors of a Hawaiian vacation. So next time you’re dreaming of island trade winds and sandy beaches, mix yourself up this iconic tiki drink! Just don’t forget the tiny umbrella.

The Signature Ingredients That Give Blue Hawaii its Color and Flavor

Pineapple Juice

Pineapple juice is one of the integral ingredients used in Blue Hawaii cocktails, providing sweet and tangy flavors that beautifully complement the other ingredients (The Spruce Eats). Fresh pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain that gives the juice a pleasant tingle on your tongue.

Canned or bottled juices work too, but fresh pineapple makes the absolute best Blue Hawaii.

Blue Curacao Liqueur

Vibrant blue curaçao is undoubtedly the ingredient responsible for giving the Blue Hawaii its tropical, ocean blue color. It provides sweet citrusy orange flavors along with that gorgeous blue hue. Traditionally, curaçao liqueurs are made from the dried peels of bitter oranges grown on the Caribbean island of Curaçao.

Popular brands of blue curaçao to try are Bols and Marie Brizard.

Light and Dark Rum

A blend of both light and gold rum are used when whipping up an authentic Blue Hawaii. The light rum provides subtle grassy flavors, while the darker gold rum gives it a touch of sweet molasses flavor and enriches the body of the cocktail.

Popular rum brands to try are Bacardi Superior and Myers Dark Rum.

Sweet & Sour Mix

Sweet & sour mix rounds out and balances the flavor profile of the Blue Hawaii, countering the sweet pineapple and rum with tangy citric acidity. The majority of the cocktails’ sweetness comes from this key ingredient. While you can use store-bought sweet & sour, scratch made is vastly superior.

It takes just lemon/lime juice, simple syrup, and water whisked together.

Optional Ingredients: Vodka, Gin, Coconut Cream

Some modern Blue Hawaii riffs call for additional white spirits like vodka or gin, but traditional recipes don’t need them. These clear liquors will boost the potency without altering the classic flavors much. For extra decadence, a splash of coconut cream takes the tropical vibes up a notch!

How to Make the Perfect Blue Hawaii Cocktail

The classic blue Hawaii recipe

The original Blue Hawaii recipe typically contains light rum, Blue Curaçao liqueur, pineapple juice, sweet and sour mix, and sometimes vodka or coconut rum too. This tropical cocktail was invented in Waikiki in 1957 and has been a beloved fruity vacation drink ever since.

Necessary equipment and ingredients

To whip up this iconic tiki drink, you’ll need a shaker, strainer, hurricane glass or cocktail glass, and these core ingredients:

  • Light rum – 1.5 oz white or silver rum
  • Blue Curaçao – 0.5 oz bright blue triple sec liqueur
  • Pineapple juice – 1.5-2 oz unsweetened juice
  • Sweet and sour mix – 1-1.5 oz store-bought or homemade mix

You can embellish it with 0.5 oz vodka for an extra kick or 1 oz coconut rum for more of a pina colada vibe. Maraschino cherries and pineapple wedges make pretty garnishes too.

Step-by-step instructions

Making this tropical tiki classic is actually quite easy. Just follow these steps:

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  2. Pour in the rum, Blue Curacao, pineapple juice, and sweet & sour mix as per your preferred ratios.
  3. Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds until thoroughly chilled.
  4. Strain into a chilled hurricane glass filled with fresh ice.
  5. Garnish festively with a pineapple wedge, maraschino cherry, tiny umbrella – or all three!

Tips and tricks

To take your blue Hawaii drink to the next level, consider these pro mixing tips:

  • Use fresh pineapple juice rather than canned for optimal flavor.
  • Add a splash of club soda for some fizz.
  • Rim half the glass with sugar or coconut flakes for a fun twist.
  • Blend it with ice into a piña colada-style frozen drink.
  • Skewer the garnishes on a cute paper umbrella for Insta-worthy presentation.

Now just grab a fun straw, kick back in a comfy chair, and let this bright tropical libation transport you straight to paradise!

Delicious Variations on the Iconic Blue Hawaii

The sweet, tropical Blue Hawaii cocktail has become an iconic symbol of Hawaiian culture and hospitality. While the original blend of rum, pineapple juice, and blue curaçao is a delight, many modern mixologists have riffed on this classic recipe to create delicious new versions.

Here are three contemporary Blue Hawaii recipes to try on your next beach vacation or summer backyard luau.

Blue Hawaiian with Coconut Rum

Adding a splash of coconut-flavored rum gives the Blue Hawaii a more pronounced tropical essence. The nutty coconut pairs perfectly with the tangy pineapple juice while contributing an extra layer of sweetness.

  • Ingredients: Light rum, coconut rum, pineapple juice, blue curaçao, cherry
  • Directions: Shake rum, coconut rum, pineapple juice, and blue curaçao with ice. Strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
  • Electric Blue Hawaii with Blue Curacao

    For a bolder, more vibrant version, amp up the blue curaçao. The additional volume of orange liqueur gives this Blue Hawaii variation a dazzling sapphire color and pumped-up citrus flavor.

  • Ingredients: Light rum, pineapple juice, extra blue curaçao, orange slice
  • Directions: Shake rum, ample blue curaçao and pineapple juice vigorously with ice. Strain into a tall glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange slice.
  • Pineapple Upside-Down Blue Hawaii

    Drawing inspiration from the classic pineapple upside-down cake, this innovative spin on the Blue Hawaii cleverly layers flavors for a cake-like experience in a glass. The “cake” elements deliver sweet fruity tastes that contrast beautifully with the liquor’s kick.

  • Ingredients: Spiced rum, pineapple juice, brown sugar simple syrup, blue curaçao, pineapple wedge
  • Directions:
    1. Mix brown sugar simple syrup with spiced rum and one ounce of pineapple juice in a shaker.
    2. Fill a glass halfway with fresh ice.
    3. Strain rum mixture from shaker over the ice.
    4. Slowly pour in remaining pineapple juice.
    5. Float a splash of blue curaçao on top.
    6. Garnish with a pineapple wedge.
  • Garnish and Serving Ideas for an Insta-Worthy Blue Hawaii

    Tropical garnishes like pineapple and maraschino cherries

    No Blue Hawaii cocktail is complete without some tropical flair added on top. Popular garnishes include chunks of fresh pineapple, pineapple leaves, paper umbrellas, orchids, and of course – maraschino cherries.

    These vibrant pops of color make your drink highly ‘grammable and transport you straight to a Hawaiian beach.

    According to cocktail experts, the perfect Blue Hawaii garnish includes “a slice of pineapple, a maraschino cherry, and a tiny paper umbrella” (The Spruce Eats). Just be sure not to go overboard with too many garnishes blocking the gorgeous blue color.

    Fun novelty straws and swizzle sticks

    Make your drink even more playful and picture-perfect by adding in novelty straws or swizzle sticks. Some fun finds include rainbow straws, transparent psychedelic straws, paper straws with Hawaiian print, or swizzle sticks topped with tiny paper umbrellas.

    A quick Etsy or Amazon search brings up endless possibilities to customize your Blue Hawaii. Bonus points if you color coordinate the straw or swizzle stick to match the rest of your decor.

    Serving in a hollowed-out pineapple or tiki mug

    For ultimate tropical vibes, serve your cocktail inside a real pineapple that has been hollowed out and trimmed into a cup. This makes for a fantastic vessel to build your drink directly inside. Garnish the rim with pineapple fronds or tiny umbrellas.

    Tiki mugs also pair perfectly with this ocean blue concoction. Look for ceramic mugs carved into fun shapes like pineapples, Easter Island heads, or tropical flowers. Some tiki mugs even include built-in straws for a quirky touch.


    With its ultra-sweet tropical flavor, vibrant hue, and iconic status in tiki culture, the blue Hawaii cocktail has secured its place in the pantheon of classic fruity drinks. By mastering the balance of juices, alcohol, sweeteners and blue curacao that give the blue Hawaii its signature taste and baby blue color, you can easily mix up this island favorite.

    So gather your ingredients, break out the blender, and get ready to be transported straight to the shores of Hawaii with each sip of this delicious and visually stunning summertime libation. Just don’t forget the tiny umbrella for a perfect final flourish!

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