You don’t have to be ashamed for your love of blue drinks anymore. Sure, previous decades have seen the rise and fall of questionable beverages the shade of radioactive Windex, but these days there’s more than one way to color a cocktail. Options abound, from butterfly pea flower extract, a near flavorless natural additive that lends drinks a shock of cobalt, to crème de violette, the sweet-and-floral liqueur that turns libations a powder blue. And yes, it’s OK to use blue curaçao once in awhile—as long as you know what you’re doing. Here, seven actually good blue (and pink and purple) drinks to try ASAP.
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Why have a Pisco Sour when you can have a Disco Sour? The unicorn-colored concoction from 492 in Charleston, South Carolina, is a sweet-sour number, with grassy pisco tempered by spiced notes of ginger and almond, courtesy of Velvet Falernum. Gold-dusted raspberries bob on top, because why not? Most important are the cerulean ice cubes spiked with butterfly pea flower extract: As they melt, the drink turns purple. There’s no sorcery involved; it’s a natural chemical reaction that occurs when the extract interacts with an acid, in this case a splash of lemon juice.
In the land down under, The Rook in Sydney goes “Down the Rabbit Hole” with its butterfly-pea-flower-spiked mix of gin, blood orange liqueur, white cacao and cardamom. Floral and sweet, the addition of zingy lemon lemon offers balance—and turns everything magenta.
In Seattle, modern saloon Canon gets its nerd on with the moody Magic: The Gathering cocktail, an effervescent flute of gin, Cava, the sweet-and-bitter liqueur Dimmi, and—you guessed it—butterfly pea flower extract. The magic part arrives with the help of liquid nitrogen, which separates the aforementioned elements from a pour of tart orange juice. As the nitrogen melts, the elements mingle and go from blue to purple. A smoking chunk of dry ice heightens the drama, because is it really magic without a little razzle dazzle?
Blue Curaçao doesn’t necessarily have to turn a drink mouth-puckering-ly sweet, especially when it’s dashed with smoky mezcal, peach brandy, lime, and cinnamon. New York City’s Porchlight offers as much in its Gun Metal Blue cocktail, a shockingly blue coupe’s-worth of booze that’s surprisingly balanced and wonderfully smoky, given its violent color.
Yep, it’s a Breaking Bad cocktail. Embrace the kitsch at several locations of the U.K.’s London Cocktail Club, which offers a glowing (and actually legal) version of Walter White’s potent brew. A take on the Margarita, it’s an icy blend of tequila, lime, agave and something called “blue falernum,” which we have a feeling is spiced falernum zinged up with blue food coloring. (The London Cocktail Club didn’t respond to our queries, but a rep at Astor Wines & Spirits says, “a lot of tiki enthusiasts make their own [falernum].” Something we, as serious tiki enthusiasts, can vouch for—check out Supercall's recipe. “They probably made a version with blue coloring.”) Regardless of where you stand on artificial additives, the Heisenberg, which comes in a large beaker with a baggie of blue salt, is undeniably fun.
The Peacock Alley Lounge at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando is no slouch in the presentation department. Its signature Peacock Egg cocktail—an elixir of gin, blue curaçao, simple syrup, lavender and lemon juice—comes in a hollow “egg,” an icy shell created in a frozen water balloon. The cocktail-filled ice pod is balanced on a glass filled with blue sugar and an LED light, which brilliantly illuminates the whole affair.
This cocktail of gin, subtly bitter maraschino liqueur and lemon gets its famous pale blue hue from crème de violette. Though a classic, it’s a relatively new sight stateside: The French liqueur was virtually impossible to find in the U.S. until 2007, when Rothman & Winter reacquainted American blue cocktail enthusiasts with it. Minetta Tavern in New York City serves a primo version, and the restaurant’s moody, old-school-New-York dining room is perfect for pretending it’s 1911, the year the Aviation was supposedly first concocted.