Drinking the Blues: From Good to Ghastly

There are times in life that call for blue drinks. Maybe you’re celebrating the Fourth of July with red, white and blue refreshments. Maybe you’re hosting a Blue Man Group afterparty. Maybe you like to pretend you’re drinking liquid Smurfs. (We won’t judge.) Or maybe you got stuck with the blue end of some sort of crowd-sourced cocktail rainbow.

Whatever the reason, it can be a challenge to find blue cocktail ingredients. Never fear, we can help. Here’s our guide to the good, the okay and the nearly undrinkable of the blue spirits world.

The Good: Magellan Gin
The makers of Magellan Gin market it as the first naturally blue gin. Producers add iris flowers at the end of distillation for color—no artificial coloring required. Bonus: The irises impart not only a vibrant blue hue, but also a heavy hit of floral flavors. Try it in a Gin & Tonic or in an Aviation where it can play around with another blossom-heavy spirit, crème de violette.

The Decent: Bols Blue Curaçao
There’s no shame in buying blue curaçao. Sticky sweet and unnaturally blue as it is, the orange-flavored liqueur is the most easily accessible way to blue-ify a cocktail (save for just dropping in a few dashes of blue food coloring). And though it may be a permanent resident of the bottom shelf, it comes from a company with a storied past: Bols has been making liqueurs for hundreds of years. If you do choose to use it, consult an expert, like Nick Bennett, of New York’s Porchlight. He expertly counters the sweet blue curaçao with smoky mezcal and a bitter cinnamon syrup in his Gun Metal Blue cocktail.

The Bad: Hpnotiq and Alizé Bleu Passion
Hpnotiq was popular among hip-hop artists of the early aughts and unpopular among grade school teachers who were just trying to teach kids how to spell. The liqueur, a blend of vodka, Cognac, various tropical juices and an unknown blue substance, is suitable only as a prop if you’re cosplaying a wannabe rapper from 2002. Same goes for Alizé, a blend of vodka, Cognac, ginger, cherry, passion fruit and probably the same blue stuff that goes into Hpnotiq.

The Downright Traitorous: Rose’s Blue Raspberry
The makers (Dr. Pepper) of Rose’s Lime Juice (which just slides by as a great way to improve a terrible beer, and necessity for making a Gimlet like Raymond Chandler—half gin, half Rose’s) also offer a blue raspberry-flavored mixer. Just say no.

The Honorable Mention: Gïk Blue Wine
Gïk blue wine blewuplikecrazy on the internet when it was released in Spain. The tinted vino (colored with an all-natural dye) was cooked up by entrepreneurs and the Basque government’s food research department in order to capture millennial interest in all things Instagrammable. Unfortunately for curious stateside drinkers, Gïk is only available in Europe. But if you happen to be traveling in Europe or have a generous friend in Spain, go ahead and snag a bottle (and grab one for us, too).