I wonder how many blog/social media posts are going to quote Rupert Holmes’ song today? Apparently though, when he wrote the song, Holmes hadn’t actually tried a Piña Colada he was going to sing ‘If you like Humphrey Bogart’ but thought he’d used too many film references already.
Today is Piña Colada day in Puerto Rico. It celebrates the fact that in 1978, the cocktail was made their National Drink.
Like all classic cocktails, there are a couple of contested originators of the drink but at least, in this case, they are from the same town – San Juan.
The most likely birthplace is the Caribe Hilton Hotel’s Beachcomber Bar and first-hand accounts name Ramón “Monchito” Marrero Pérez as the bartender who put everything in place though all the bartenders were very passionate about promoting ‘their’ drink. Monchito is said to have spent 3 months perfecting the drink and presented it on August 15th 1954 having captured “the sunny, tropical flavor of Puerto Rico in a glass”.
Though the name Piña Colada may have been used much earlier (there are recipes with this name dating back to Cuba in the 1920’s at least!) The drink as most people recognise it became intrinsically linked to both the Waring Electric Blender and Coco López Coconut Cream
Coco López was founded in San Juan in 1954 by Don Ramón López-Irizarry and it has been claimed that during the infancy of the company, Irizarry would spend time at the Caribe Hilton getting the bartenders to experiment with his product.
Initially the majority of the Piña Coladas made at the Caribe Hilton were shaken but Monchito preferred them blended and two nights per week, Coco López sponsored a singer in the hotel and the bartenders made sample Pina Coladas to hand out to the guests but their blenders kept breaking so Coco Lopez bought commercial blenders and loaned them to the hotel.
The drink has definitely been added to and refined since then and nowadays at the Caribe Hilton, they even add cream to the drink which certainly wasn’t in the original recipe. I think it’s fair to say that there are many variations on the theme and adding banana or strawberry flavours to the drink work well too.
My own hint for success is a pinch of salt in the drink – it really brings out all the flavours of the drink . Just a tiny pinch, not enough to make the mix salty and you will have a drink that zings.
My Piña Colada Recipe
50ml White Rum (Something like Banks 5 Island is perfect)
35ml Coco López Coconut Cream
125ml Unsweetened Pineapple Juice
Cup of crushed ice
Blend all ingredients until smooth and garnish with pineapple and a cherry.