History of the Piña Colada Cocktail

Rum Piña Colada Cocktail

There is a mystery surrounding the history of the Pina Colada. The origin of Pina Colada cocktail is debatable. There are at least four Pina Colada stories make the rounds of the rum connoisseurs. In Spanish, Pina Colada means ” strained pineapple “. This sweet Pina Colada cocktail is a rum-based cocktail crafted with coconut cream and pineapple juice. A Pina Colada is usually blended with ice and garnished with either a pineapple wedge or a cherry.

At the Caribe Hilton Beachcomber Bar in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Pina Colada was first introduced by its alleged creator, Ramon “Monchito” Marrero. Trying different mixtures, blending, and shaking, Monchito introduced the Pina Colada on August 16, 1954. Interestingly, the cream of coconut, a major ingredient of a Pina Colada, had just been invented in 1954. The Pina Colada has been the official drink of Puerto Rico since 1978.

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Other stories regarding the history of the Pina Colada involves The Barrachina, a restaurant in Puerto Rico which claims to be the Pina Colada birth place. The story goes that the owner, Mr. Barrachina, while visiting South America, met up with a bartender who had previously worked in a luxurious bar in Buenos Aires. The bartender, Don Ramon Portas Mingot simply mixed pineapple juice, coconut cream, condensed milk and ice in a blender, creating a delicious and refreshing drink, known today as the Pina Colada.

There is some evidence that the Pina Colada cocktail had been around before. The earliest mention of the Pina Colada is a pirate story set in the 1800s. A Puerto Rican pirate, Robert Cofresi, also known as El Pirata Cofresi, is tributed with mixing a beverage that contained coconut, pineapple and white rum for crew, hoping to boost their morale. This drink is what we now call the Pina Colada. His Pina Colada recipe was lost on the day of his death in 1852.

The fourth possible scenario for the history of the Pina Colada has a Hilton employee, born in Barcelona named Ricardo Gracia, claiming to have invented the Pina Colada in 1954. Gracia, while working at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan de Puerto Rico, substituted hollowed out pineapples to serve the popular coconut rum drinks in because the coconut shells normally used were in short supply due to the coconut cutter’s union strike. Adding pineapple flavoring to the sweet coconut flavor made the new drink, the Pina Colada, an instant success.

The New York Times referenced the Pina Colada, made with rum, coconut cream and pineapple juice in their April 16, 1950 edition. Even earlier, a Travel magazine article dated December 1922, mentions a drink specifically name, a Pina Colada. The article says “But best of all is a piña colada, the juice of a perfectly ripe pineapple—a delicious drink in itself—rapidly shaken up with ice, sugar, lime and Bacardi rum in delicate proportions. What could be more luscious, more mellow and more fragrant?”

Here’s the drink recipe for the traditional PinaColada:

Old-Style PinaColada
3 ounces light rum
3 teaspoons coconut cream
3 teaspoons crushed pineapple

Put all of the ingredients into a blender with two cups of crushed ice. Blend until the drink is a thick, creamy consistency. Strain the mix into a glass, and serve with a straw and a pineapple wedge or maraschino cherry. If you can’t find coconut cream, add some condensed milk to coconut milk for a thick consistency. Enjoy!

Rum Quote: Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest-Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! ~ Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island