Fruity and refreshing, a Blue Hawaiian cocktail is perfect for sipping poolside! It’s similar to a piña colada, but the blue curaçao adds a fragrant orange flavor and vibrant blue color.
What Is a Blue Hawaiian?
The name of this cocktail says it all! It’s a tropical rum cocktail that’s a vibrant shade of blue.
A Blue Hawaiian drink (also called a “swimming pool cocktail”) is made with rum, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, and blue curaçao. The blue curaçao is what gives the cocktail its signature shade.
The Blue Hawaiian is — very confusingly! — a spinoff of the Blue Hawaii cocktail, which is made with sweet and sour mix instead of blue curaçao.
The Blue Hawaii was invented in Honolulu in the 1950’s, at the Kaiser Hawaiian Village (now called the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Resort). An employee of the Bols distillery was staying at the hotel and asked bartender Harry Yee to make him a drink featuring Bols’ blue curaçao liqueur.
After a few tries, Yee finally presented the guest with a cocktail made from rum, vodka, blue curaçao, pineapple, and sweet and sour mix. The cocktail was an instant hit, and it grew rapidly in popularity. Eventually, the Blue Hawaiian was created as a spinoff of the cocktail.
Tip: Many people mistakenly believe the drink was named after the 1961 Elvis Presley film, but the cocktail actually came before the movie!
What Does a Blue Hawaiian Cocktail Taste Like?
A Blue Hawaiian is essentially a blue-tinted piña colada. The flavors of the two cocktails are distinct, however.
In a Blue Hawaiian, the blue curaçao adds color as well as a subtle orange flavor. But generally speaking, there’s lots of citrus and coconut happening in this summery rum drink!
Difference Between a Blue Hawaii vs a Blue Hawaiian
I know it’s confusing to read about two such similar drinks as the Blue Hawaii and Blue Hawaiian. Here’s what makes them unique:
- The Blue Hawaii was created first. It’s made with sweet and sour mix (a combination of simple syrup and lemon or lime juice).
- The Blue Hawaiian is almost identical, but the sweet and sour mix is replaced with cream of coconut.
Tools Needed to Make This Cocktail
I recommend having the following bar tools on hand to make a Blue Hawaiian:
- Jigger — Makes measuring out cocktail ingredients quick and easy.
- Citrus juicer — For juicing the lemon.
- Cocktail shaker — It’s easiest to measure the ingredients directly into the shaker along with the ice.
- Strainer for shaker — Most cocktail shaker sets come with a strainer included, but if you don’t have one you need it for this recipe.
- Cocktail glasses — Traditionally hurricane glasses are used for Blue Hawaiian cocktails, but we also love using these fun tiki glasses. Use any glass you have on hand!
Ingredients in a Blue Hawaiian
You’ll notice that the Blue Hawaiian cocktail ingredients are very similar to those of a piña colada. Here’s what you’ll need to make a tropical Blue Hawaiian:
- Light or white rum
- Blue curaçao
- Pineapple juice
- Cream of coconut
- Lemon juice
For the complete ingredient list and detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this post for the FREE printable recipe card.
What Is White Rum?
Light (white) rum is typically unaged, or very lightly aged. It has a subtler, sweeter flavor than golden or dark rums, is clear in color, and is very mild in flavor. It pairs perfectly in fruity rum cocktails like this one!
If you’re unsure which type of white rum to purchase, a classic brand like Bacardi is always a good choice!
What Is Blue Curaçao?
Blue curaçao (pronounced “cure-ah-souw”) is just orange curaçao that’s been dyed blue! I don’t typically recommend buying neon-colored liquors for cocktails, but in the Blue Hawaiian it’s an essential ingredient!
Orange Curaçao is a type of brandy that’s been flavored with the peel of Curaçao oranges. As the name suggests, it used to be made on the island of Curaçao, but these days orange Curaçao doesn’t actually have to be produced on that specific island of to be labeled as such.
Some substitutes for Blue Curaçao you can use include: orange Curaçao, Grand Marnier or Triple Sec. Just note that without the Blue Curaçao your Blue Hawaiian drink won’t actually be blue!
What Is Cream of Coconut?
Note that it is NOT the same as coconut cream, which is unsweetened and is what’s on top of a can of coconut milk
How to Make a Blue Hawaiian
Making a Blue Hawaiian cocktail is quick and easy! Follow these basic steps to start sipping on this refreshing cocktail in no time:
- Measure the light rum, blue curaçao, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker that’s been half filled with ice cubes.
- Secure the lid on top of the shaker and shake vigorously until very cold.
- Strain the shaken cocktail into a hurricane glass with ice. Garnish as desired and serve immediately.
The above is simply a quick summary of this recipe. Check out the full recipe in the free printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for all the detailed instructions.
Blue Hawaiian Drink Garnish Ideas
Enjoy your Blue Hawaiian as is, or jazz it up with cute garnishes!
We love garnishing our cocktails with a pineapple wedge, maraschino cherry, lemon (or lime) slice, and a cocktail umbrella. A cocktail this fun is just begging to be garnished!
Tip: If you’re unsure how to cut a pineapple wedge garnish, follow the tutorial I’ve just linked for full instructions on how to do so.
How to Make a Pitcher Blue Hawaiian
The recipe shown in the recipe card below is for a single cocktail, but you can easily turn it into a big-batch, pitcher cocktail by simply measuring the ingredients in parts or cups instead of ounces.
I recommend preparing the cocktail mixer, storing it in a large pitcher WITHOUT ICE, then refrigerating it until cold. When ready to serve, pour the mixture over ice and garnish individual glasses as desired.
Tips for Making This Classic Rum Cocktail
- Use 100% pineapple juice — Fresh pressed is best and is available at some grocery stores. Otherwise canned pineapple juice or pineapple juice in a carton is fine, so long as it contains no added sugar.
- Use freshly squeezed lemon juice — This is a very simple cocktail, so freshly squeezed fruit juices are a must! Here’s how to juice citrus fruits so you get the most juice out of them.
- Buy quality liquor — It might seem like a lot of money upfront, but investing in quality rum and curaçao will make a world of difference in your cocktails! You don’t need the absolute top-shelf stuff, but don’t buy the cheapest, either. And remember: one bottle of rum and one bottle of curaçao will last for a while!
- Don’t confuse cream of coconut with coconut cream — Coconut cream is unsweetened and isn’t the right consistency for cocktail making. Be sure to buy sweetened cream of coconut for this cocktail!
- Shake or blend, never stir — A Blue Hawaiian is traditionally shaken with ice, but you may also opt to blend the ingredients in a blender to a frosty mixed drink.
Is a Blue Hawaiian shaken or stirred?
The Blue Hawaii can be shaken with ice or blended; the inventor of the drink, Harry Yee, supposedly prepared it in whichever method hotel guests wanted. However, the drink is never stirred!
What type of glass is a Blue Hawaiian served in?
Hurricane glasses are the traditional choice, but use what you like! We typically make tropical rum cocktails like this one in tiki glasses, but sometimes we’ll just keep it simple with a rocks glass.
Is a Blue Hawaiian served over ice?
Yes, a Blue Hawaiian is always served over ice (unless you opt to blend it in a blender). We love using nugget ice in our cocktails, but any type of ice may be used.
What can I substitute for blue curaçao?
If you don’t have blue curaçao on hand, you may substitute it with triple sec, grand marnier, or clear curaçao. You would need to add food coloring to achieve the blue color when using these clear spirits.
What can I substitute for cream of coconut?
Coconut milk would work best. The resulting cocktail will be lighter and less sweet, but the coconut flavor would still be present.
What can I substitute for white rum?
If you don’t have or don’t like white rum, try vodka instead for a different take on this drink.
Can I make a blended Blue Hawaiian?
Yes, to prepare a blended Blue Hawaiian simply add all the ingredients to a blender with ice and blend until smooth and slushy.
If you’re looking for a good blender, we have had this Blendtec Blender since 2012 and it still works perfectly!
Can this recipe be made as a mocktail?
Most definitely! Alcohol-free spirits are a wonderful alternative if you’re sober curious or don’t consume alcohol. With that being said, I have not made a non-alcoholic Blue Hawaiian so I can’t speak to the taste.
However, there are plenty of alcohol-free spirits you can use in place of the rum and blue curaçao. This alcohol-free white rum and alcohol-free orange liqueur both have great reviews. (Note that your drink won’t be blue unless you add blue food coloring to it!)
If you don’t want to purchase alcohol-free spirits, you can try the following swaps instead:
- Use fresh orange juice in place of blue curaçao
- Use club soda in place of white rum
Safety tip: Depending on the brand you use, some alcohol-removed spirits may still contain trace amounts of alcohol. Check before using / serving to kids / drinking during pregnancy
What to Serve with a Blue Hawaiian Drink
The Blue Hawaiian is a fruity, tropical cocktail that pairs well with Caribbean-inspired dishes as well as Mexican-inspired recipes like nachos, chips and guac, tacos, and more!
- Caribbean Chicken with Pineapple Salsa
- Tropical Fruit Salad
- Grilled Pineapple Lettuce Cups
- Coconut Quinoa
- Pineapple Chicken Quinoa Salad
- Basil Kumquat Chicken Skewers
- Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos
Try This Tropical Rum Cocktail at Home!
Next time you’re looking for a tropical rum cocktail, give this Blue Hawaiian recipe a try!
Did you think it was the perfect cocktail? Leave a comment below and give it a review for others to see what you thought.
On Instagram? Share your photo and tag me with @goodlifeeats and #goodlifeeatsrecipes. I’d love to see your photo of this Blue Hawaiian cocktail!
More Pineapple Cocktails:
Strong, tart, and slightly sweet, a Mai Tai Cocktail is a classic rum cocktail that will transport you straight to the tropics!
Ditch the blender and make Piña Coladas on the Rocks instead. It’s the classic pineapple, coconut, and rum cocktail — just served over ice!
A classic Moscow Mule gets a fruity twist with this recipe for Fresh Pineapple Mint Moscow Mules.
Pineapple, cilantro, and lime juice infuse this Pineapple Margarita with refreshing summer flavors. Make a small batch or prepare in a pitcher for parties!
This Pineapple Cooler is so refreshing on a hot summer day and tastes great with your favorite taco recipe! If you prefer an adult beverage version of this pineapple mocktail, this pineapple drink pairs well with tequila, rum, or vodka as a spirit choice – instructions included!
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- 1 1/2 ounces light rum
- 3/4 ounce blue curaçao
- 2 ounces pineapple juice
- 3/4 ounce cream of coconut
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Pineapple Wedge
- Cocktail Umbrella
- Lemon or Lime Slices/Wedges
- Measure the light rum, blue curaçao, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker half full of ice cubes.
- Secure the lid on top of the shaker and shake vigorously until very cold; for a full 30 seconds. The cocktail shaker should be frosty on the outside.
- Strain the shaken cocktail into a glass with ice. Garnish with desired garnishes. Serve immediately.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 687Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 28gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 257mgCarbohydrates: 81gFiber: 14gSugar: 51gProtein: 6g
GoodLifeEats.com offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy. This provided information is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although GoodLifeEats.com makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.