What is a Blue Hawaii?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

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.

A Blue Hawaii is typically served garnished with cocktail umbrellas and fresh fruit.
A Blue Hawaii is typically served garnished with cocktail umbrellas and fresh fruit.

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.

The Blue Hawaii was invented in Hawaii in the 1950s.
The Blue Hawaii was invented in Hawaii in the 1950s.

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.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I am told that the Blue Hawaii can be quite potent. Reading the article I can see how that would be so if you added several of the possible alcohols. Also, fruit drinks are often drank in access because of the sweetness. Before you know it, you have consumed several of the drinks without thinking, so you should probably pace your self with the Blue Hawaii.

What is a trip to Hawaii without the colorful drinks? Personally, I love the Blue Hawaii, but I usually skip them when they are served on the plane during the flight to the islands. One time when I did have one on the plane, my kids were fascinated by the color. The bright blue is very appealing. I think I like the color as much as the the taste.

Anyway, as I said, the kids were fascinated by the drinks. Someone at the next table was having the drink one night when we were at dinner. Our waitress noticed how excited the kids were about the blue drinks, so she offered to bring them one each. My kids are way to young to drink, so I was about to protest when the waitress smiled at me.

She said that many of the younger dinners wanted to sample the drinks, so the bartender had created an alcohol free version of the Blue Hawaii using blue sports drink. The kids loved the drinks and they felt like they were sharing in a Hawaiian tradition.


The article makes a good point about the close relationship between the Blue Hawaii and the Blue Hawaiian. I thought they were the same drink, and that some people were just not using the proper name when they ordered the drink.

I have had a bad reaction to coconut cream in the past, so I have always avoided Blue Hawaiian and Blue Blue Hawaii drinks since I thought they were the same and I knew the Blue Hawaiian contained coconut cream.

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