It shouldn’t be surprising that this drink has a colorful and slightly confusing origin story. The original Blue Hawaii was created by Hawaiian bartender Harry Yee in the 1950s. Somewhere along the way, another drink—the Blue Hawaiian—also surfaced, with a slightly different recipe that included coconut cream and omitted vodka.
It might look strange that this drink uses both vodka and white rum, but there is good reason for it. Known for being flavorless and neutral, vodka is often derided by some (in my opinion, overly serious) drink makers, but it can serve a valuable purpose. In a drink like this, with so many intensely flavored ingredients, vodka can act as a “spacer,” providing room for the other ingredients to shine, while still maintaining the drink’s strength.
Out of respect to the original recipe—and to showcase vodka’s usefulness—I’ve stayed as close as possible to Yee’s original, but with one nod to the Blue Hawaiian: a coconut infusion into the blue curaçao. This allows us to incorporate the flavor of coconut without changing the texture of the original drink. If you’re not a fan of coconut, or want to stick to the true spirit of the original Blue Hawaii, you can skip this step and just use plain blue curaçao.
When making drinks with pineapple juice, it’s always best to use the freshest juice possible, but the drink will be fine if need to use store-bought in a pinch. All this said, it is always important to use fresh lime juice; store-bought juices will add an unappealing metallic tinge to your drinks. —johndebary
- Prep time 5 hours 15 minutes
- makes 1 drink
fresh pineapple juice
coconut-infused blue curaçao (recipe below)
fresh lime juice
Pineapple wedge, for garnish
- Make the coconut-infused blue curaçao: Combine 4 ounces blue curaçao with 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut. Stir and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain and re-bottle. Infused blue curaçao will keep for up to three weeks in a cool dry place.
- Make the blue coconut garnish: Reserve the strained, used coconut flakes from the infusion. Spread them on a sheet tray and let sit to dry in a sunny place, around 5 hours. Store in an airtight container, and the flakes will keep for up to three weeks in a cool dry place.
- To make the drink: Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Pour entire contents of the shaker, including ice, into an Old-Fashioned glass. Garnish with a blue coconut-dusted pineapple wedge.