Bad things sometimes happen to good booze.
Such has long been the case with curaçao.
This intensely flavored orange liqueur was a staple of the 19th-century cocktail, but lost its path sometime after Prohibition. Now, quality curaçao is staging a triumphant return, with the release of Pierre Ferrand Dry Orange Curaçao ($27 for 750 ml).
Based on brandy and flavored with the dried peel of an unusual type of bitter orange grown on the Caribbean island of the same name, curaçao was the precursor to triple sec. This original orange liqueur lent a subtle richness and a bittersweet tweak to dozens of drinks from the 1800s, such as Regent's Punch and the Brandy Crusta.
In the 20th century, curaçao added character to classic cocktails including the Pegu Club and the Mai Tai. Then curaçao took an unfortunate detour through the food chemist's lab, acquiring an unnatural orange or blue hue and a tacky, artificial flavor.
Pierre Ferrand's version restores the liqueur to its 19th-century throne. Formulated with a base of cognac and brandy, flavored with the dried peels of curaçao oranges (along with lemon and sweet oranges) and aged in oak casks, it has a natural, nuanced intensity that brings new life to the classic cocktail. Julie Reiner, of Clover Club and Lani Kai in New York, is harnessing its flavorful gravitas in her take on the Brandy Crusta (click here to see the recipe).
Chalk one up for the good guys.