This Sunday is National Pina Colada Day, and what better way to celebrate with some Rum, pineapple juice, and coconut cream.
It has been the official drink of Puerto Rico since 1978 but its origins are much older. The modern Pina Colada depends on coconut cream being used as an ingredient, which doesnt appear until 1948 when Don Ramon Lopez Irizarry creates the well-known Coco Lopez product. This is where, like most cocktails, the trail gets a little bit muddy. The Pina Colada has had its share of claimants and accounts of similar drinks that date back to the 17th century.
The first actual written instance of Pina Colada attached to a cocktail dates back to 1922 in Travel Magazine. It descibes a drink with fresh pineapple juice, lime, sugar, ice, and Bacardi Rum. This is what we now like to call a Pineapple Daiquiri, which I enjoy on my shifts at Dutch Kills quite frequently.
A few bartenders have quarreled over the rights to the drink:
- The Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where long-serving bartender, Ramón “Monchito” Marrero Perez claims to have created the drink on August 16, 1954, utilizing the recently released Coco López cream of coconut.
- Ricardo García, another bartender at the Caribe, who claims to have come up with the recipe as a work-around during the coconut cutters’ union strike of 1954. It sucks when a co-worker trys to take credit for your drink, doesnt it?
- Ramón Portas Mingot’s 1963 story stating that he came up with the drink while working at the Barrachina Restaurant in Old San Juan.
I want to thank all of them, as we may never know, just like the Mai Tai battle of Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic (I vote for Don). Let’s celebrate the history of this drink in all of its frosty, fruity, deliciousness glory with a variation of our own. I’m celebraing with my cocktail the Summer Sandia which I created for Women & Whiskies. I know what you’re thinking, a whiskey colada? I’m here to change your mind with this American Whiskey spin on the classic Pina Colada.
1 ½ oz. Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon
½ oz. Absinthe
1 ½ oz. Pineapple Juice
1 ½ oz. Coconut Cream (equal parts coconut cream and coconut milk)
7 watermelon cubes
Add pineapple juice to your mixing tin with 5 watermelon cubes and a handful of mint leaves, and muddle. Add the rest of your ingredients, dry shake, and strain into your serving vessel. Add crushed ice and garnish with watermelon and a mint sprig.