We’ve got the 1980s and the Pina Colada song to thank for dragging this drink into the realms of the incredibly naff. It didn’t help (and still doesn’t) that in some bars, they arrive with all the fanfare of a circus act in a glass so big it may as well be a fishbowl. Pina Coladas are delicious drinks though – so forget fashionable, and embrace a guilty pleasure.
The drink originated in Puerto Rico in the 1950s, a luxurious drink to sample a true taste of the Caribbean for wealthy tourists. It’s exactly that, too – combining rum, pineapple and coconut. The best are made with either dark rum, or a mix of light and dark rums. If you see anyone waving Malibu about though, you’re in the wrong bar. Personally, I’m all about Gold Rum for this drink – and Don Papa from the Philippines is a cracker.
When it comes to pineapple, you can use canned rings or fresh pineapple chunks if you’re planning on blending the drink, but really, fresh pressed pineapple juice is best for texture, acidity and fruity flavour.
The original recipe calls for a specialist coconut product called Coco Lopez. It’s essentially sweetened cream of coconut – not to be confused with coconut cream – in fact think of it like condensed milk. I can’t think of a better way to give yourself a toothache, so steer clear. Coconut Milk will do it nicely – or if you prefer your drink thicker, use Coconut Cream, but I find this a bit too rich.
As with almost all cocktails, ice is super-important too. If you’re blessed with a blender that can cope with ice, then a blended Pina Colada is a thing of beauty. If not, you can shake the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and pour over cubed ice. Glassware is pretty much up to you – serve it in a Collins or Highball if you want, but for visual impact a Hurricane glass is the best way to go. Or, if you lack such specialist glassware a red wine glass is perfect.
Garnish should be a wedge of pineapple and a few maraschino cherries if you want to add colour.
50ml Don Papa Rum
50ml Coconut Milk (shake/stir before adding)
100ml Fresh Pineapple Juice
10ml Agave Syrup (instead of sugar syrup)
25ml Fresh Lime Juice
Method: Add all ingredients to a blender with enough ice to fill your glass just past halfway – about two thirds is good – then fire up the blender. Check for desired sweetness and add a touch more Agave Syrup or Lime Juice as needed.
Pour into your glass of choosing, and cut a notch in the pineapple. Add to glass with some straws. Find a beach. Get a tan.