The Story of Piña Coladas

The Piña Colada is the quintessential summer cocktail – it’s fruity, indulgent, and refreshing, and is a best seller at beach bars around the world. With a simple recipe of pineapple, coconut cream, and white rum, this iconic vacation beverage appeals to almost any drinker. Piña Colada means “strained pineapple” in Spanish and has a rich history that begins in the Caribbean.
Who Invented Piña Coladas?
The origin of the Piña Colada is highly contested. Bartender Ramón “Monchito” Marrero claims to have invented modern-day Piña Coladas in 1954. He says he first created the drink while working at the Caribe Hilton Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and served it there for 35 years. However, another bartender at the same hotel, Ricardo Garcia, also claims to have invented the cocktail.
In the 1970s, a third “inventor” claimed the Piña Colada as his own. Ramón Portas Mingot, a former bartender at the La Barrachina restaurant in Old San Juan, says he invented the drink in 1963. However, since none of the “inventors” filed a patent for the cocktail, there is no official legal inventor.
Many people even attribute it to Roberto Cofresí, a legendary Puerto Rican pirate from the 1800s. Legend has it that Cofresí mixed rum with pineapple and coconut juice to create the first, albeit simplified, Piña Colada recipe.
Piña Coladas Throughout History
After over a decade of success, Puerto Rico declared the Piña Colada its official national drink in 1978. Tourists to the region helped boost the cocktail’s popularity overseas, and soon it exploded in the US market and worldwide. In 1979, Rupert Holmes released “Escape”, also known as the Piña Colada song, which featured on the Billboard Hot 100 for 23 weeks.
Today the drink has become a classic cocktail recipe featured in almost every mixology manual. Perfect for a day at the pool or on the beach, the sugary taste of Piña Coladas is inseparable from summer, sunshine, and tropical getaways.
Piña Coladas vs the Health Movement
While Piña Coladas may contain nutritious fruit, they are also packed with sugar and saturated fat. This is especially true for cocktails made with coconut cream. Substituting it for cream of coconut reduces the fat content but increases the sugar, so it’s almost impossible to make a truly healthy Piña Colada.
Since 2020, healthy eating has resurfaced as a global priority, and sugar-free mocktails are now top of mind for many bargoers. Substituting coconut cream for coconut water, or using a high-quality coconut flavoring, such as ABT’s organic coconut distillate, keep your Coladas flavorful and help you cut down on calories.
The Emergence of Mocktails and Virgin Piña Coladas
The emergence of non-alcoholic cocktails as a recent consumer drink trend gives people alcohol-free alternatives to the traditional Piña Colada. Rum is made from sugar cane and is an important contributor to the cocktail’s sweet flavor. To make Piña Coladas without rum, you can use a combination of almond and vanilla extract with a dash of ginger beer.
Another more sophisticated substitute is a natural rum replacer. This ingredient will add sweetness and tropical flavor notes to your cocktail without the aftertaste of alcohol.
Create a Flavorful Twist on a Traditional Piña Colada
Whether you prefer them with or without alcohol, Piña Coladas are a tasty summer treat anyone can enjoy in moderation. Next time you craft a Colada, consider adding a touch of mint, lime, or ginger to give it a modern twist. Advanced Biotech’s premium natural flavorings are ideal for advanced mixology. Please contact us for more information.