Curaçao is a liqueur flavoured with the dried peels of the laraha citrus fruit, grown on the island of Curaçao. A non-native plant similar to an orange, larahas developed from the sweet Valencia orange transplanted by Spanish explorers; the nutrient-poor soil and arid climate of Curaçao proved unsuitable to that cultivation, producing small bitter fruits, but was eventually bred into the current laraha species, whose fruits remain bitterly inedible.
Initially discovered by accident, the drink was first developed and marketed by the Senior family (a Jewish family of Spanish descent) in the 19th century. To create the liqueur, the peels of the Laraha are dried, bringing out their sweetly fragranced oils. After soaking in a still with alcohol and water for several days, the peels are removed and other spices are added.
The liqueur has an orange-like flavour with varying degrees of bitterness. It is naturally colourless, but is often given artificial colouring, most commonly blue, which confers an exotic appearance to cocktails and other mixed drinks.
Some other liquors are also sold as Curaçaos with different flavours added, such as Coffee, Chocolate and Rum Raisin.