A Blue Hawaii is a cocktail which features, at a minimum, rum and blue Curaçao, with pineapple juice along with sweet and sour mix being common additions. The drink may also be made with vodka and other juices, depending on personal taste, and it is traditionally served over ice with a wedge of pineapple. The Blue Hawaii should not be confused with the Blue Hawaiian, a closely related cocktail which includes coconut cream, creating a much more rich drink with a very distinctive flavor.
Supposedly, the Blue Hawaii was invented in 1957 in a bar in Waikiki on the island of Honolulu. According to legend, the bartender was asked to come up with a cocktail which utilized blue Curaçao, in the hopes of increasing sales of the distinctive liqueur. Apparently the Blue Hawaii was a success, because it quickly spread around the islands and then to the mainland, where many people were hungry for Hawaiian-themed drinks, foods, and accessories.
As a general rule, the Blue Hawaii is considered to be a warm weather cocktail. When well mixed, it has a distinctive and somewhat refreshing flavor, and the blue Curaçao makes the drink feel rather novel, especially when it is served with other tropical fruit or a miniature umbrella. To enhance the tropical feel, some bartenders serve their Blue Hawaiis in novelty cups, or they blend it to produce a frozen drink.
The blue Curaçao gives the Blue Hawaii a very distinctive and unmistakable color, making it an easy drink to identify. Most bars which offer tropical cocktails have the Blue Hawaii on their drink menu, or are capable of making it, and it is a popular choice of alcoholic punch for tropically-themed parties, since it is easy to mix in large batches.
For variations on the basic theme, Curaçao of other colors can be used, and the base liquor can always be changed to meet personal taste. Some people like to use flavored rums in their Blue Hawaii cocktails, although one should be cautious doing this, as Curaçao has a very distinctive flavor which can clash with some liquors. Amateur bartenders also find that the quality of their Blue Hawaiis is generally greatly improved by personally blending the sweet and sour mix, using simple syrup and citrus juice, both of which should be available at any well-stocked bar.