The Blue Hawaii cocktail was born at Honolulu’s Kaiser Hawaiian Village (now Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Resort). In 1957, a sales representative of Dutch distiller Bols asked legendary bartender Harry Yee to design a drink that featured its blue curaçao, a Caribbean liqueur made using the dried peel of the Laraha citrus fruit.
After experimenting with several variations, Yee settled on a cocktail featuring rum, vodka, blue curaçao, pineapple and sweet-and-sour. The drink is still recognized today for its signature blue color, pineapple wedge and cocktail umbrella garnish.
The Blue Hawaii is typically shaken with ice and strained into a tall glass, but it can also be prepared by blending all of the ingredients together—Yee is said to have varied his method per the guest’s preference. Both options taste great, though the frozen version may prove extra refreshing on a hot day.
The Blue Hawaii recipe calls for sweet-and-sour mix, and you can certainly choose one of the bottled products available at liquor stores and grocery stores. But if you’re game to make your own—a very simple task—you’ll create a fresher tasting cocktail. All it takes is sugar, water and lime juice.
The Blue Hawaii has enjoyed a place in popular culture. Its invention predates Hawaii’s statehood by two years, and it is the most famous drink associated with the Aloha State. It was Yee who named the cocktail that shares its name with the 1961 Elvis Presley film. And since the drink’s debut, there have been numerous variations on the recipe, such as the Blue Hawaiian, which uses crème de coconut. But if you want to taste the authentic recipe, this is it.
- 3/4 ounce vodka
- 3/4 ounce light rum
- 1/2 ounce blue curaçao
- 3 ounces pineapple juice
- 1 ounce sweet-and-sour mix*
- Garnish: pineapple wedge
- Garnish: cocktail umbrella
Add vodka, light rum, blue curaçao, pineapple juice and sweet-and-sour mix into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled. (Or blend all ingredients with ice in a blender.).
Strain into a Hurricane glass over crushed or pebble ice. (Or pour from blender into glass with no ice.)
Garnish with a pineapple wedge and cocktail umbrella.
*Sweet-and-sour mix: Mix 1 part sugar with 1 part water. Add fresh lime juice to taste.