Summer is near, and we’re dreaming of tropical beach vacations… And we have the perfect cocktail, whether you’re actually lying on the beach or not: the Piña Colada cocktail!
Now, today’s version is not blended. That’s right, we’re sticking with the truly classic version, which is actually shaken. It’s probably not what you’re used to, but I promise you that it’s delicious.
History of the Piña Colada: Contested Origins
The origin of this tropical drink (like many cocktail recipes) is a bit unclear. But what’s for sure is that it originated sometime between 1825 (with Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresi) and 1963 at the restaurant Barrachina.
The Caribe Hilton in San Juan also claims on their website to be the “birthplace” of this cocktail:
“Ramon “Monchito” Marrero was the creator of the Pina Colada in 1954, during his time as a bartender at our resort. After three months of experimentation, Mr. Marrero finally settled on the recipe Pina Colada, which he felt captured the true flavors of Puerto Rico.”
What’s not contested is that the drink most certainly originated in Puerto Rico; in fact, it became the country’s official national drink in 1978.
How to Make a Piña Colada
OK, so today, we’re making the classic version of this mixed drink– key word being mixed.
If you’re looking for a blended cocktail instead, check out this video of Chris and Julia behind their very own outdoor cocktail bar, making the frozen drink version. The recipe they use is the one from the Caribe Hilton hotel. Check out their frozen cocktail here:
And here’s the breakdown of the recipe:
FROZEN PIÑA COLADA INGREDIENTS:
- 2 oz Rum
- 1 oz Coconut Cream
- 1 oz Heavy Cream
- 6 oz Pineapple Juice
- Extra Pineapple Slice, Pineapple Leaf, and/or Cocktail Cherry for Garnish
FROZEN PIÑA COLADA INSTRUCTIONS:
- Add all ingredients to a blender.
- Add 1/2 cup of crushed ice, and blend for 15 seconds.
- Pour the blender mixture into a hurricane glass or highball glass, and garnish with a fresh pineapple wedge and a cocktail cherry. (Or, if you’d like to follow C & J’s example, serve in a real pineapple!)
And then check out Chris’ non-frozen Piña Colada recipe in this video, where he’ll show you how to shake it instead of blending it, like the classic version:
About the Piña Colada Ingredients:
This non-frozen pineapple drink (or frozen– your choice!) seems complicated but isn’t actually that involved. It requires a bit of prep time and can be made a variety of ways, but this fruity cocktail has only a few ingredients and is fairly straightforward.
There’s a lot of confusion about this drink and what goes in it, so I thought I’d take a minute to answer some of the top questions…
Can you make this rum cocktail with coconut milk or coconut cream?
Good question! There’s a lot of confusion about the “coconut” element in this drink. Ideally you want to use “cream of coconut,” not unsweetened coconut cream or milk.
Cream of coconut vs coconut cream: Traditional coconut cream will provide coconut flavor but not the sweet taste needed for this drink. The most common brand you’ll find used behind professional bars is Coco Real Cream of Coconut.
Some Piña Colada recipes may actually call for coconut cream and simple syrup. This isn’t the traditional way, but it’s something you can try if you’re in a pinch.
A rumor has it, if you don’t have cream of coconut handy, you can make this drink with coconut milk by skimming the cream off the top and adding a bit of sugar – but we can’t attest to this method, not having tried it ourselves. (Have you attempted this? How’d it go?)
Is there dairy in this classic cocktail?
Sometimes! If you take a look at the above (blended) recipe, you can see that there is a significant amount of heavy cream.
However, we eliminate the dairy element in today’s shaken recipe. The texture is lighter and thinner because of this– so if you order a Piña Colada at a bar, there is a significant chance it will include dairy.
Can you use Piña Colada mix?
Sure, of course you can use a pre-made mix; but in our opinion, a homemade Piña Colada with real fruit and fresh ingredients is just way better. It also includes less sugar than pre-made mix.
Piña Colada Variations
- You’ll see above that our frozen version does not include lime juice, but in today’s recipe, we do add fresh lime juice for a nice, bright acidity that cuts some of the sweetness.
- Many recipes (like the one above, as we mentioned) use actual dairy in the cocktail for a super creamy texture. Our shaken recipe only includes the Coco Coconut Cream (or rather, cream of coconut), which is dairy-free.
- Add strawberries and make Strawberry Piña Coladas!
- It’s kind of a pain but also a little bit worth it to strain fresh pineapple juice. I mean, fresh juice is always better, right?
- Change out the base alcohol to tequila for a Tequila Colada or vodka for a Chi Chi cocktail.
- Want to get crazy with your cocktail? Combine a Piña Colada with a Strawberry Daiquiri for a Lava Flow!
- Eliminate the booze for a virgin Piña Colada cocktail without alcohol– This especially works with the frozen version.
- And now you know that you have the choice: Frozen or shaken!
Note: If you don’t have a hurricane glass, you can use any tall glass for this classic cocktail.
What’s your Recipe?
As with any “old” cocktail recipe, there are so many versions. What’s your shaken or frozen Piña Colada recipe? Leave us a comment letting us know, and then grab ours below and get ready for your next summer party.
Shaken Piña Colada Recipe
- 1 Lewis Bag
- 1 Ice Hammer
- 2 oz White Rum
- 1.5 oz Canned Pineapple Juice
- 1.5 oz Cream of Coconut
- 0.5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
- Add all ingredients into your cocktail shaker with ice.
- If you don't have crushed ice in your refrigerator or a pebble ice machine, prepare your crushed ice by using a Lewis bag and ice hammer to break up ice cubes.
- Shake all ingredients vigorously for approximately 10-15 seconds.
- Add crushed ice to your cocktail glass, and then fine strain (double-strain) the drink into the glass.
- Garnish with a slice of pineapple and brandied maraschino cherry.