The Perfect Drink for a Weekend Escape
OK, we all know the Rupert Holmes ditty called Escape, a/k/a The Piña Colada song. You know: “If you like Piña Coladas/And getting caught in the rain.” That’s not the escape I’m talking about.
What I have in mind is the sort of weekend where you go to a nice, exotic location — preferably one with a beach — and relax with a tall, cool, refreshing drink (and forget about the rest of the world).
Or if that’s not possible, one where you stay at home and camp out in your back yard with the same tall, cool, refreshing drink (and forget about the rest of the world).
Enter the Piña Colada: Tall, cool, and refreshing. With excellent flavor and super good looks. Ready to unwind?
Recipe: The Piña Colada Cocktail
The Piña Colada is the official beverage of Puerto Rico. It was created there — at the Caribe Hilton’s Beachcomber Bar in San Juan — sometime in the 1950s by Ramón Marrero, one of the hotel bartenders.
Although you can make this drink in a cocktail shaker, it’s better when mixed in a blender. Indeed, this was the first frozen drink designed with the blender in mind. Other drinks we commonly see in frozen form (the Daiquiri or Margarita, for example) are actually better when they’re shaken and served “up,” not frozen.
The Piña Colada’s distinctive flavor comes from the combination of pineapple and coconut cream, specifically Coco López Cream of Coconut. (There are other brands out there, but this is the original and best; you can find this at virtually any grocery store). The rum used in the original drink was white Puerto Rican rum. I prefer to use a combination of white and dark rum (I discuss some recipe variations in the Notes).
Although the rum adds a wonderful subflavor to this drink, it’s really the flavors of the pineapple and coconut cream that dominate. So this is a great drink to make for people who don’t want to consume alcohol — just make the recipe leaving out the rum, and you'll find the frozen emulsion of pineapple juice and Coco López makes an extremely satisfying nonalcoholic drink. (In fact on the back of the can the Coco López folks call the nonalcoholic – rumless – recipe the “Family Piña Colada.”)
This recipe serves 1, and takes about 5 minutes to prepare. I adapted it from Dale Degroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail.
- 1½ ounces light rum (Bacardi works well)
- 1 ounce dark rum (I like Gosling’s Black Seal, but Meyer’s works well too)
- 3 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice (I use 6-ounce cans of pineapple juice for cocktails, so I don’t waste too much once I open a can)
- 1½ ounces Coco López coconut cream (you can increase this to 2 ounces for more coconut flavor, but the drink will be pretty sweet)
- 1 ounce heavy cream
- ¾ cup ice (preferably crushed or cracked)
- maraschino cherry and/or pineapple wedge garnish (optional, but festive)
- Add all ingredients (except the garnish) to a blender container.
- Cover and blend on high until the drink forms a nice, thick emulsion — about 15 to 30 seconds.
- Pour into a tall glass, and garnish with optional maraschino cherry and/or pineapple wedge (or whatever you want). Long straws make this easier to drink.
- Including cream as an ingredient helps form a longer-lasting emulsion, and also makes for a more interesting flavor.
- I think my recipe is the best way to mix this drink, but other people have different ideas. David Wondrich likes to use 2½ ounces of gold rum, 3 ounces of pineapple juice, and 1 ounce of coconut cream. Then he blends with ice.
- He also suggests floating ½ ounce of Cherry Herring on the drink for extra eye appeal (pour it over the back of a spoon so it floats on top). Robert Hess likes 2 ounces of white rum, 6 ounces of pineapple juice, 1 ounce of coconut cream, and 1 of ounce heavy cream. Blend with ice.
- Gary Regan, in the Joy of Mixology says that when he makes a frozen Piña Colada, he likes to use 2 ounces of dark rum, ½ cup of pineapple cubes (or 2 ounces pineapple juice), and 1½ ounces of coconut cream.
- My recipe is essentially the same as Dale DeGroff’s, but he prefers to use 2 ounces of coconut cream and 4 ounces of pineapple juice. He also likes a dash of Angostura bitters.
- The recipe on the back of the Coco López can calls for 1½ ounces of rum, 2 ounces of pineapple juice, and 2 ounces of coconut cream. (Omit the rum for the "Family" version.")
- Lots of recipe choices out there! If it’s a really long weekend, you can make one of each — then compare and contrast.
Stock Up on Coco López
“It’s about time you featured these,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs as she took her first sip of Piña Colada. “This is one of my favorites.”
And it’s true. Often when we’re on vacation (at some exotic destination or on a cruise), this is the cocktail that Mrs K R orders.
“You’ll be glad to know that I bought plenty of Coco López,” I said. “And extra little cans of pineapple juice. So we can make these whenever we want.” The rum and heavy cream we always have on hand here at Bar Kitchen Riffs.
We chatted for five minutes or so, and then I noticed her glass was empty. As was mine. That’s the one downside of these beauties — they drink so smooth and easy that they go down
quickly. But you need to be careful, because they have a goodly amount of alcohol in them.
“Not at some places I could mention,” harrumphed Mrs K R as I fixed us another round. “Lots of barkeeps seem to forget the rum when they make these.”
“Maybe you got the 'family' version by mistake,” I ventured. “Or they thought you were too, ahem, juvenile to drink.”
“Yeah, well, you know my motto: Youth is fleeting, but immaturity can last a lifetime.”
And we drank to that!
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