Travel to any island, or just want to be transported to the islands, and a pina colada is on the drink of choice. They are made by blending coconut cream, pineapple juice, rum, and crushed ice. Then it's poured into a glass (or a pineapple if you're lucky) and topped with a slice of pineapple and a maraschino cherry. With its refreshing coconut flavor, they are a heavenly summertime cocktail. But have you ever wondered who invented them?
Three bartenders stake their claim to being the inventor of the pina colada.
Ramón “Monchito” Marrero Pérez
was a bartender in San Juan and experimented with drinks for his Beachcomber Bar at the Caribe Hilton. In 1954, he tested a cocktail with newly invented Coco Lopez. Coco Lopez
is a pre-made coconut cream an essential ingredient in Perez's pina colada.
, another Caribe Hilton bartender, also claims he invented the pina colada.
He says the coconut-cutters were on strike, therefore he couldn't make the popular drink that was served in a coconut shell. Instead, Garcia began to add freshly strained pineapple juice to the drink and serve it in a hollowed out pineapple. Pina colada translates to strained pineapple.
But, yet another bartender claims he is the inventor. Restaurant Barrachina says that in 1963 their bartender, Ramon Portas Mingot, mixed the drink there for the first time.
Legend also says in the 19th century, a Puerto Rican named Roberto Cofresi
combined white rum, pineapple juice, and coconut milk. Roberto was a pirate and gave the cocktail to other crew members to make them happy. He died in 1825 without ever sharing the recipe.
While we don't know which version is right, we do lean towards it being invented at the Caribe Hilton. In 2000 and 2014, Puerto Rico's governor hailed the Caribe Hilton the "Birthplace of the Pina Colada."
The rise in popularity of blenders in the 1970s and the ability for tourists to vacation in Puerto Rico and taste this frozen cocktail helped to make this frozen summertime drink more popular in the United States. It became the official drink of Puerto Rico in 1978.
Blue Ribbon Pina Colada Recipes
Since we can't all travel to Puerto Rico, here are some recipes for a variation on the cocktail or recipes that celebrate pina colada flavors.
"The early 90's, I had this delicious punch at a baby shower hosted by Peg and must say... I indulged in this punch! It has to be one of the best punches I have ever had. But I admit - tis a sweet punch. " - Kay
"A simple sherbet recipe perfect for summertime! This truly has all the flavors of a pina colada. It's cool, creamy and refreshing with small chunks of pineapple and a hint of coconut. Topped with pineapple and a cherry, it's a fun dessert for a summer party." - The Kitchen Crew
"It's light and refreshing, and it is actually better after a couple of days! Time allows the cake to become moister and more flavorful. This is a great dessert for a large crowd or get together." - Darlene
"Since having a Pina Colada for breakfast is frowned upon, I threw together this delicious variation with some tangy Orange Syrup to go with it. If I had any pineapple in the house I would have made Pineapple Syrup instead! Family quite enjoyed it!" - Teresa
"Holy cow, as soon as you take a bite of this delicious dessert you feel like you're on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean. The tortilla is crispy and the banana's warm and creamy. We love the added flavor from the rum on the pineapples and coconut. The whipped cream and cherry on top complete the fantastic flavor combination. What a treat!" - The Kitchen Crew
"A creamy blend of coconut, pineapple and rum. This has to be one of the most popular cocktails worldwide, with a name meaning "strained pineapple". This is my inspiration for making this drink into a dessert using cream cheese and instant pudding. This is a nice summertime dessert. Enjoy!" - Carol
"If you're having a cook-out or a party this summer, greet your guests with a tall, cool drink! Having a bucket of slush prepared is a very easy (...and economical!) way to serve cocktails." - Family Favorites