The Blue Hawaiian — from a pedant’s point of view — is an entirely different cocktail than the Blue Hawaii. Both contain the same base spirit — rum — the same coloring agent — blue Curacao — and even the same garnishes — pineapple and cherry. However, the Blue Hawaii, invented by famed bartender Harry K. Yee in 1957 at the equally famed Hawaiian Village Hotel in Waikiki, contains a splash of vodka and sweet and sour. Instead of sweet and sour, the Blue Hawaiian — which hasn’t a renowned inventor or hotel behind it — contains coconut cream.
The Blue Hawaiian
If you ask for a “Blue Hawaiian” — with crisp diction and without slurring — at your local bar or pub, this is the cocktail you’ll likely have served to you. Some establishments serve it chilled and strained, others serve it blended — both ways work, so blend or shake as you like. If you don’t have a hurricane glass, substitute any tall cocktail glass.
Add 1 part each light rum, blue Curacao and cream of coconut and 2 parts pineapple juice to a blender along with 1 cup of ice (for each cocktail). Blend and serve in a chilled hurricane glass — garnish with a maraschino cherry and pineapple wedge. If you’re feeling exceptionally festive, add a cocktail umbrella — which, incidentally, was also popularized by Harry Yee.
Add 1 part each light rum, blue Curacao and cream of coconut and 2 parts pineapple juice to a cocktail shaker half filled with crushed ice. Shake the cocktail vigorously and strain it into a tall cocktail glass. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and maraschino cherry.
A.J. Rathburn’s Blue Hawaiian
This version of the Blue Hawaiian was popularized by food-and-drink author A.J. Rathburn in his award-winning book, “Good Spirits: Recipes, Revelations, Refreshments, and Romance, Shaken and Served With a Twist.” Consider this version the minimalist’s Blue Hawaiian — not too sweet, but balanced with a well-rounded tropical flavor.
Add 1 part blue Caracao, 1 1/2 parts light rum and 2 parts fresh pineapple juice to a cocktail shaker with crushed ice. Shake the cocktail and strain it into a large cocktail glass. Garnish with 2 or 3 skewered pineapple chunks. If you’re feeling particularly effervescent on the warm summer evening you make this cocktail, top it off with a splash of club soda.
Absolut’s Blue Hawaiian
Absolut’s version of the Blue Hawaiian differs from other versions in one area: its base spirit. Instead of light rum, Absolut’s versions contain — surprise — Absolut vodka. The Absolut version is also a layered drink — by adding vodka, blue Curacao and coconut syrup, the drink’s color starts blue at the bottom and finishes light yellow at the top.
Fill a tall cocktail or highball glass with ice cubes. Add 2 parts vodka, 2 parts blue Curacao and 1 part coconut syrup — in that order — to the glass. Wait a few seconds for the components to settle and add a splash of pineapple juice. Garnish the drink with a maraschino cherry.
Harry Yee’s Classic Blue Hawaii
If you speak of the Blue Hawaiian you must mention Harry Yee’s classic Blue Hawaii — at least for the sake of originality, as the former is a derivative of the latter.
Add 3 ounces of pineapple juice, 1 3/4 ounces of light rum, 3/4 ounce of vodka and a 1/2 ounce of blue Curacao to a cocktail shaker with crushed ice. Shake the drink vigorously and pour it into a hurricane glass filled with ice cubes. Garnish the Blue Hawaii with a maraschino cherry, a pineapple slice and a cocktail umbrella.
References and ResourcesDrinks Mixer: Blue Hawaiian Recipe
Good Spirits: Recipes, Revelations, Refreshments, and Romance, Shaken and Served With a Twist; A.J. Rathburn
Absolut: Blue Hawaiian
Gourmet: Blue Hawaii Kahala Hilton
Bon Appetit: The Exciting History and Origin of the Cocktail Umbrella