Originating from the sunny tropical paradise of Puerto Rico, no cocktail can ever compare to the delightfully refreshing taste of a Pina colada. Made with a dash of rum, refreshing pineapple juice, coconut cream, heavy cream, ice, this drink transports you to the sunny shores of the Caribbean.
The History of The Pina Colada
The history of the Pina colada is somewhat unclear. Even though we know it has been in existence for decades, some people claim it was created a century ago in San Jaun. To complicate the story even further, there seems to be some debate over the true inventor of Pina Coladas.
The well-known Caribe Hilton Hotel is the scene where two birth stories of the piña colada took place. The Caribe Hilton claims the piña colada was created in 1954 by a bartender named Ramon Marrero. Recruited by hotel management to build a unique drink for the hotel drink that utilized the island's local flavors. It took Marrero three months of testing hundreds of ingredients before discovering the perfect ingredients for the sweet, creamy mixture of rum, cream of coconut, and pineapple juice called the Pina Colada. He served this drink at the hotel for 35 years until his retirement in the 1989s.
On the other hand, another bartender who also worked at the Caribe Hilton insists he invented the refreshingly smooth cocktail. Hailing from Spain, Ricardo Gracia shared his creation story with Coastal Living magazine in 2005. Supposedly the 1954 coconut cutters union strike deterred him from serving the famous cocktail made with rum, cream of coconut, and crushed ice in a sliced coconut. Winging it, he came up with the brilliant idea to hollow out a pineapple and pour the cocktail into it. The pineapple flavor became so popular that Gracia decided to add fresh pineapple juice to the coconut cream and rum-based mixture to produce the piña colada, which translates to strained pineapple in Spanish.
A few miles west of the Caribe Hilton, another San Juan establishment, the Restaurant Barrachina, claims to be the home of the piña coladas. Opening in the latter half of the 1950's Restaurant Barrachina quickly gained recognition for their world-famous paella. The owner and chef of Restaurant Barrachina enlisted Spanish bartender Ramon Portas Mingot, who composed cocktail books and worked at one of the popular bars of Buenos Aires to migrate from Argentina to Puerto Rico and work at his restaurant. Authenticated by a marble plaque found outside the restaurant entrance, Restaurant Barrachina alleges Mingot invented the very first piña colada in 1963.
On the contrary, some attribute the piña colada's construction to the Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresi during the 19th-century. Cofresi used a combination of white rum, pineapple juice, and coconut milk to boost the crew's morale. Nevertheless, the latter-day beach cocktail we all know and love would have been unachievable without Coco Lopez's creation, a ready-made cream of coconut in 1954. Ramon Lopez-Irizarry, an agriculture professor at the University of Puerto Rico, invented Coco Lopez by blending cream from the flesh from coconuts with natural cane sugar. Coco Lopez soon became an essential component of the Puerto Rico's piña coladas.
Pina Coladas Take the World by Storm
Tourists who flocked to Puerto Rico returned to their home countries ranting about the cocktail, and it started to make an appearance on menus in restaurants and bars all over the world. The introduction of electric blenders and tiki bar chains like the Don the Beachcomber franchise in the 1970s helped spread the cocktail worldwide.
Pina Coladas Receive National Recognition
In 1978 the piña colada finally got the recognition it deserves when it was named Peurto Rico's national beverage. The subsequent year Pina Coladas bonded into pop culture by a moderately undiscovered musician. Rupert Holmes composed and sung a song titled escape which evolved into a top hit in the United States in December 1979. In fact, it was the final tune to top the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the 1970s.
What Ingredients Do I Need to Make Piña Coladas?
The most attractive thing about piña coladas is how easy and simple they are to prepare. All you need have to choose is a smooth white or gold rum as your base alcohol. Choose a smooth rum instead of strongly flavored aged rums. The next ingredient you will need is coconut. Stick with cream of coconut and avoid using coconut milk or coconut cream in your Pina colada. Cream of coconut is very dissimilar to coconut milk and coconut cream. Coconut milk resembles cow's milk's consistency and is produced by cooking equal parts shredded coconut and water. Coconut cream's consistency is thicker than coconut milk, and it is manufactured using a ratio of 4:1. 4 parts shredded coconut, and one part water is simmered to create coconut cream. Cream of coconut is a sweeter variant of coconut cream made with sugar, often used when making desserts and mixed drinks. Therefore, it is not usually substituted for coconut milk or coconut cream. The final ingredient is pineapple. You can either use pineapple juice and pineapple chunks. Pineapple chunks help give the cocktail a thicker and frothier consistency.
Piña Coladas: Blended or Shaken?
Unfortunately, a common distortion is that blended piña coladas are a relatively new modern-day version of the original cocktail. However, blended cocktail Pina Coladas are the original drink, and shaken piña colada the modern creation. If you prefer making a shaken piña colada, shake 1 ½ ounces golden rum with 1 ounce cream of coconut and an ounce of pineapple juice, then pour it over ice. For blended Pina Coladas, add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend until the mixture is frothy and creamy. Whether you choose a blended or shaken piña colada, it will give you a dose of much-needed tropical flavor.
Even we cannot definitively identify the inventor of the popular drink piña colada, a few things are clear. Pina Coladas have traveled throughout the world, solidifying that Pina Coladas will forever go down in history as one of the most popular drinks in history. New variations on the drink have arisen, most recipes stay very close to the original Pina Colada.Print