Curaçao is a liqueur flavored with the dried peels of the laraha citrus fruit, grown on the island of Curaçao. A non-native plant similar to an orange, larahas developed from the sweet Valencia orange transplanted by Spanish explorers. The nutrient-poor soil and arid climate of Curaçao proved unsuitable to Valencia cultivation, rendering small bitter fruits in the trees. The aromatic peels maintained much of the essence of the Valencia varietal, and the trees were eventually bred into the current laraha species, whose fruits remain bitterly inedible.
Initially discovered by accident, the drink was first developed and marketed by the Senior family (a Jewish family of Spanish and Portuguese descent) in the 19th century. To create the liqueur, the laraha peels are dried, bringing out their sweetly fragrant oils. After soaking in a still with alcohol and water for several days, the peels are removed and other spices are added.
The liqueur has an orange-like flavor with varying degrees of bitterness. It is naturally colorless, but is often given artificial coloring, most commonly blue, which confers an exotic appearance to cocktails and other mixed drinks.