Pina Colada: History And Origins Of The Tropical Cocktail
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Made with three key components – namely white rum, coconut cream or coconut milk, and pineapple juice, the delightful combination of sweet, tropical flavours is the pina colada. If you have a penchant for piña coladas, it’ll do well to know that the Spanish origin of the phrase pina colada stems from the concept of traditionally making it with strained pineapple or pineapple juice. Not only does it impart a tangy flavour, while the coconut cream contributes a luxurious texture, the addition of rum provides a subtle warmth to the overall blend. The classic cocktail holds a cherished status as a symbol of leisure by the beach and indulgent tropical vacations. A cooling drink typically associated with summer or tropical climates, the combination of fruit with coconut gives it a fresh twist like no other.


This delightful concoction which blends the creamy essence of coconut, the zesty tang of pineapple juice and the warmth of white rum, originated in San Juan. However, the true creator of this beloved cocktail remains a subject of ongoing debate on the island, with three bartenders staking their claims. At the Caribe Hilton Hotel in San Juan, two versions of the piña colada’s origin battle for attention. One narrative attribute the creation to Ramón ‘Monchito’ Marrero – a bartender at the hotel's Beachcomber Bar – who was tasked with crafting a signature cocktail in 1954. Marrero dedicated three months to perfecting the recipe, reportedly earning praise from Hollywood icon Joan Crawford.

In contrast, another bartender at Caribe Hilton, Ricardo García, asserts that he improvised the refreshing concoction in the same year due to a coconut shortage. Adding another twist to the tale, Ramón Portas Mignot, a mixologist at Barrachina in Old San Juan, lays claim to inventing the piña colada in 1963, commemorated by a plate at the establishment's entrance. The pina colada, according to some locals, was invented by the Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofres, who supposedly mixed up the drink and offered it to his men to improve morale in the early 19th century. While the identity of the drink's originator remains a mystery, it is undeniable that the pia colada has become an international hit and not just Puerto Rico's official national drink.



  • 59 ml light rum
  • 59 ml pineapple juice
  • 44 ml cream of coconut
  • 1 lime wedge, optional
  • Pineapple wedge, for garnish
  • Maraschino cherry, for garnish


  • Mix the light rum, pineapple juice, and cream of coconut with ice in a drink shaker.
  • Squeeze the juice of a lime wedge into the shaker to make the colada a little bit less sweet and shake it well for at least 30 seconds.
  • If you shake the drink well, it should be smooth and have a nice foam from the pineapple juice.
  • Pour into a Collins glass filled with ice. It can also fill either one big or two small cocktail glasses.
  • Add the pineapple piece and maraschino cherry as a garnish. Serve and enjoy!

Also Read:

Try These Pineapple Cocktails For Your Zesty Dinner Evening

Recipe Variations

  • Try a store-bought or homemade rum that has been aged or flavoured. Coconut rum is a good choice, but you can also use other fruits.
  • Swap out the rum for vodka if that's your flavour. Coconut vodka, pineapple vodka, or a combination of the two, might work well to enhance the flavour.
  • Instead of using rum, you can make a non-alcoholic pia colada by mixing 4 ounces of pineapple juice with 2 ounces of cream of coconut and shaking the mixture.

Quick Tips 

  • Even in its shaken form, the piña colada is an extremely thick beverage. Pour some crushed ice into the glass and then strain the cocktail to make it lighter.
  • Use coconut cream instead of cream of coconut if you can't locate any; just be sure to taste and add sugar or simple syrup to make up for the loss of sweetness. But avoid the coconut milk in cartons; it's usually a bit too thin for shaken cocktails, such as this one.
  • Pineapple juice in a can is a great time saver. There are enough drinks for a few people in the 6-ounce cans. Large cans of pineapple juice can go stale quickly if you don't store them somewhere cooler.
  • Fresh pineapple juice can be substituted if desired. Using an electric juicer, you can get roughly 6 ounces of juice from a pineapple that weighs the average of 2 to 5 pounds. Without a juicer, muddle 1 cup of pineapple chunks in the shaker before adding the other ingredients.
  • Pineapple chunks, either fresh or frozen, can be blended and strained through a fine-mesh strainer.