Blue Hawaii (cocktail)

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Blue Hawaii
Frozen Blue Hawaii at Gold Spike bar near Union Square, San Francisco
TypeMixed drink
Primary alcohol by volume
ServedOn the rocks; poured over ice
Standard garnishpineapple or orange quarter slice, maraschino cherry
Standard drinkware
Hurricane Glass.svg
Hurricane glass
Commonly used ingredients
PreparationCombine all ingredients with ice, stir or shake, then pour into a hurricane glass with the ice. For garnish score pineapple or orange slice with a knife and insert onto rim of glass; optionally use toothpick or cocktail umbrella to spear maraschino cherry through center and attach to top of fruit slice; otherwise float cherry on top of ice!
NotesFor best results do not use bottled sweet and sour mix, but rather make your own at the bar with fresh citrus juice and simple syrup. This advice applies to any drink that calls for sweet and sour.

The Blue Hawaii is a tropical cocktail made of rum, pineapple juice, Blue Curaçao, sweet and sour mix, and sometimes vodka. It should not be confused with the similarly named Blue Hawaiian cocktail (also known as the Swimming Pool cocktail) that contains creme of coconut instead of sweet and sour mix.

History and popularity[edit]

The Blue Hawaii was invented in 1957 by Harry Yee, legendary head bartender of the Hilton Hawaiian Village (formerly the Kaiser Hawaiian Village) in Waikiki, Hawaii[1] when a sales representative of Dutch distiller Bols asked him to design a drink that featured their blue color of Curaçao liqueur. After experimenting with several variations he settled on a version somewhat different from the most popular version today, but with the signature blue color, pineapple wedge, and cocktail umbrella.[2]

The name "Blue Hawaii" is related only indirectly to the 1961 Elvis Presley film of the same name, and apparently derives instead from the film's title song, a hit composed by Leo Robin for the 1937 Bing Crosby film Waikiki Wedding. It was Yee who named the drink which, along with the films and songs, many other tropical drinks he invented, and tiki bars such as Trader Vic, did much to popularize a faux Hawaiian tiki culture, both in Hawaii itself and on the Mainland. The era was immediately pre-statehood, a time when Hawaii was thought of by most Americans as playground for the rich. Tourism and development was already significant, but all centered on Waikiki and at only a small fraction of today's levels – about 100,000 visitors per year then, compared to seven million today.[3]

Preparation and variations[edit]

A Blue Hawaii is typically served on the rocks. As with most tropical drinks, there are many variations in preparation, presentation, and ingredients. Hence, it is often blended with ice, margarita-like, to be served as a frozen cocktail. Many variations of glassware are used, the more whimsical the better: tiki mugs, cocktail glasses, parfait glasses, or carved out coconuts or pineapples.

The base liquor is usually light rum but vodka may be partially or completely substituted as a matter of taste. Similarly, a flavored rum or vodka such as Malibu Rum may eliminate the need for crème of coconut, or the coconut flavor may be omitted entirely (coconut milk, a very different product, should not be used). Even the pineapple juice is sometimes left out in favor of sour mix. The only constant, in fact, is the name and the blue Curaçao.[4]

Because it is easy and inexpensive to make, it is often served as a punch. At its simplest, it is a bottle or two of plain or coconut-flavored light rum, a bottle of blue curacao, a can of pineapple juice, and a bag of ice, mixed together in a punchbowl. The Blue Hawaii is seasonal, often considered a summer or warm weather drink. Occasionally, because it contains yellow pineapple juice, the Blue Hawaii will have a green coloration instead.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rick Carroll. "Harry Yee, King of Tropical Cocktails". Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  2. ^ Lance Tominaga. "Tropical drinks, part of the Hawaiian experience". Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  3. ^ "Hawaiian History". Los Angeles Times (Frommers). Retrieved 2007-07-03.
  4. ^ Jason Tesauro and Phineas Mollod (2007-06-03). "My blue heaven". the Sunday Paper. Archived from the original on 2007-10-10. Retrieved 2007-07-03.