GUILTY PLEASURES: THE PIÑA COLADA
The Piña Colada cocktail has a bad rep.
Too often associated with brightly coloured straws, two-too-many paper parasols and served in a hollowed-out pineapple or coconut – this is the King of kitsch cocktails and for some, well, it’s hardly the ‘coolest’ of drinks…
But it hasn’t always been this way.
Invented in a luxury hotel bar in Puerto Rico in the 1950s for wealthy tourists looking for a taste of the Caribbean, early sippers were more Don Draper than Rupert Holmes (warning: click on his name and you will be singing his catchy 70s pop song for the rest of the day…) Indeed, Hollywood legend Joan Crawford apparently claimed that drinking the Caribe Hilton’s creation was “better than slapping Bette Davis in the face”.
We can pretend all we want, but secretly, the Piña Colada is everyone’s guilty pleasure – even the great mixologist Tony Conigliaro names it as his (as if this totally tropical taste were something to be ashamed of). And now it’s making a comeback. No longer served in an excruciating razzmatazz of a spectacle, complete with flaming treasure chest and thrillingly garish paraphernalia (thanks, 1980s, thanks) the Piña Colada is perfectly acceptable to sip once more without the risk of feeling like you’ve jumped straight out of Barry Manilow’s Copacabana.
Why? Because the cocktail life isn’t so serious.
This isn’t the 80s, with the OTT and the look-at-me cocktails. It isn’t the 90s with the don't-look-at-me minimal, three ingredient serves. This is the now; and right now, bars and bartenders are asking,
Why So Serious?
There's no denying the popularity of exceptionally well-made concoctions served in a timeless, traditional manner, but nowadays you can also sip on the likes of ApairOteef from the Cocktail Trading Co. – an expertly-crafted creation of white balsamic, pisco and cardamom-pear infusion, but served with chattering false teeth in a glass.
And that's the kind of cool that the Piña Colada can compete with.
Because life can be fun.
Drinking a cocktail can be fun.
And the Piña Colada is fun.
It can be served simply, in a rocks glass, not a parasol in sight, impersonating a sours cocktail for the more pretentious of drinkers; or, served in a copper pineapple complete with flamingo stirrer and retro-cool glacier cherries. We’re not judged on our drinks and there’s a Piña Colada reincarnation to suit all palates.
So this July 10th, as we toast yet another National Cocktail Day, choose your team: Out and Proud Piña Colada Lovers or In The Closet Secret Sippers.
Either way, there’s a Piña Colada for you:
1. THE PIÑA COLADA IMPOSTER
There’s nothing naff about the combination of rum, pineapple and coconut. And secretly, you love a Piña Colada (don’t deny it…) you’re just less sure about the ‘decoration’ and the connotations – preferring to keep the kitsch to a minimum and turning the taste up to the max.
A richer, aged dark rum used alongside a light coconut rum allows a more potent cocktail, with less dominant flavours from the pineapple juice and lightened further by swapping coconut cream for coconut water and a dash of bitters for finesse.
Shake up the first four ingredients with plenty of ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with still more ice cubes. Shake a few drops of bitters onto the foam by way of garnish.
2. THE MORE IS MORE PIÑA COLADA
The taste of holiday is a frosted glass full of dangerously alcoholic crushed ice and fruity flavours. The taste of sunshine is an all-out, no-expense-spared P.C. Therefore, use golden rum rather than cheaper blanco for a sunnier disposition, the traditional Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut, fresh pineapple for the juice, and all the garnishes you can get your hands on - pineapple wedges, maraschino cherries, novelty stirrers, parasols – the more the merrier.
- 1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
- 2 oz golden rum
- 2 oz cream of coconut
- crushed ice
Cut off the pineapple top half with leaves. Carefully core the pineapple and scoop out the flesh of the bottom half of the pineapple and cut into chunks. Use a blender to blend these chunks to create a fresh pineapple puree. Place 3 oz of the puree, the golden rum, the coco lopez and crushed ice in the blender and blend. Pour into the pineapple the mixture and garnish with straws, paper parasols and plenty of fruit.
If sipping out of a real pineapple is too much hard work, use 3 oz of pineapple juice instead of fresh puree and serve in a gold-plated pineapple mug (we even sell those too...)