The Piña Colada started life in Cuba as a non-alcoholic beverage, an iced pineapple (piña) pulp that was either served colada (strained) or sin colar (without straining). Terms included:
- Piña Fria = Cold Pineapple
- Piña Fria Colada = Cold Strained Pineapple
- Piña Colada = Strained Pineapple
- Piña Sin Colar = Unstrained Pineapple
The earliest mention of rum being added to this drink is in 1922, and the earliest mention of coconut milk (but no rum) is 1937.
The drink's popularity saw a great boost with the release of Rupert Holmes's 1979 song Escape.
A Common Recipe
Shake or blend, and serve in a tall glass. Garnish with pineapple and cherry.
Note: some bartenders may add a splash of lime, or some pineapple pulp (in blended versions).
"Washington Post", (1906)
"Pina Fria, a refreshment made from the juice of the pineapple".
"IN CUBA AND JAMAICA", by H. G. de Lisser, (1910)
"You ask for 'piña fria,' and he takes a pineapple and peels it and cuts it into large chunks and pounds it up with white sugar and ice and water, and hands the concoction to you in a huge, thick tumbler, and you find it delicious."
Sheboygan Press (1912)
"a piña fria...a pineappleade, to coin a word."
TRAVEL magazine (1922)
"But best of all is a piña colada, the juice of a perfectly ripe pineapple -- a delicious drink in itself -- rapidly shaken up with ice, sugar, lime and Bacardi rum in delicate proportions. What could be more luscious, more mellow and more fragrant?"
"San Cristobal de la Habana", Hergesheimer (1923)
"...a piña colado -- a glass, nearly as large and quite as thin as possible, of the chilled essence of pineapple."
"TERRY'S GUIDE TO CUBA" by T. P. Terry (1926)
"PINEAPPLE CRUSH (piña fria colada -- cold strained pineapple juice), made by squeezing the juice (jugo) from half a piña into an ice-filled shaker and sweetened with a little sugar."
"Middletown Times Herald", (1937)
"They also sold a cocoanut[sic] and pineapple mixture called Pinacolada[sic]"
"HAVANA MANANA: A GUIDE TO CUBA AND THE CUBANS", by C. Hermer and M. May (1941)
"Piña colada -- strained pineapple juice"
New York Times, April 16, 1950
"Drinks in the West Indies range from Martinique's famous rum Punch to Cuba's Pina Colada (rum, pineapple and coconut milk)."
NEW YORK HERALD-TRIBUNE, (1952)
"Pina Fria has music in its name; two fingers of cold fresh pineapple juice are blended with one and one-half ounces of white Puerto Rican rum and a half teaspoon of sugar. Shake with fine ice; strain into a champagne glass."
Trader Vic Piña Colada References
In the "Bartenders Guide" by Trader Vic (1947) there is no Pina Colada. But in the revised edition of that book "Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide" which came out in 1972, there is a Pina Colada (Pina Fria Style), and a drink by the name of a Bahia.
- 2.5 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
- 1 oz Lopez coconut cream
- 1 oz white Jamaica rum
- 1 oz Trader Vic light Puerto Rican rum
Mix with ice cubes in a commercial electric drink mixer (or by hand with a shaker can and mixing glass), Pour into 10-ounce pilsner glass. Fill with cracked ice. Decorate with fresh mint and fruit stick.
- 2 oz golden Puerto Rican rum
- 3 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
Blend in electric drink mixer with 1 scoop of shaved ice for 10 to 20 seconds. Pour over ice cubes in a tall 10-ounce glass. Serve with a straw.
Note: It is interesting that Trader Vic lists the Piña Colada without Coconut, and a drink called a Bahia with Coconut, as seperate drinks. It is written somewhere that Trader Vic didn't like to use the name Pina Colada because it didn't sound "Tiki" enough, though that begins to sound like a bit of a dubious claim since "Bahia" doesn't sound "Tiki" either.
Other Trader Vic References
- Trader Vics Book of Food and Drink (1946), No mention of either drink
- Bartenders Guide by Trader Vic (1947), No mention of either drink
- Trader Vics bartenders guide (1972), Bahia and Pina Colada
- Rum Cookery and Drinkery (1974), Bahia and Pina Colada
- Trader Vics Tiki Party (2005), Bahia only.
Historical Mentions for the Pina Colada
- NY Times Adverts
- Jun 6, 1937; pg. 66, 1
- May 23, 1937; pg. 58, 1
- May 2, 1937; pg. F10, 1
- Apr 18, 1937; pg. 60, 1
- Feb 14, 1937; pg. 197, 1
- LA Times Adverts
- Oct 5, 1938
- Oct 11, 1938
- Washington Post
- Ringside Table, With Mary Harris, Jun 6, 1947.
The Puerto Rican Claim to the Pina Colada
"The Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico. According to Maria Elena Pérez, the Piña Colada was introduced there on August 15, 1954 by its creator Ramon 'Monchito' Marrero."
"Coco López, the maker of the coconut cream most often used in the drink, marked the selling of the three millionth Piña Colada in 1978 by presenting a color television set to Monchito. On the same day, he was honored with a party and awarded a medal by the Caribe Hilton, while the government of Puerto Rico declared the Piña Colada the “national drink of Puerto Rico.”"
Note: The Coco Lopez Website doesn't endorse anyone as the creator of the Pina Colada.
Pina Colada Recipes
"Original" Recipe (Puerto Rican)
- 2 ounces light rum
- 1 ounce coconut cream
- 1 ounce heavy cream
- 6 ounces fresh pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup crushed ice
- Pineapple wedge and maraschino cherry for garnish
Pour rum, coconut cream, cream, and pineapple juice in blender. Add ice. Blend for 15 seconds. Pour into a 12-ounce glass. Add garnishes.
- one fresh pineapple
- one green coconut
- white rum
- one cup crushed ice
- Pour the juice of the coconut into a blender
- Add a scoop of the coconut jelly (the gooey stuff between the milk and the meat)
- Chop off the top of the pineapple and set aside
- Hollow out the pineapple and place contents into the blender
- Mix pineapple and coconut well
- Add the rum
- Add crushed ice and blend 5 minutes until CREAMY
- Pour pina colada into the hollowed out pineapple
- Make a hole in the top of the pineapple for a straw, close and serve
GOURMET, "Summer Drinks," July 1968
"In the container of a blender combine 1 cup canned pineapple cubes with 2 tablespoons coconut milk and 1 teaspoon each of lime juice and sugar. Blend the mixture at high speed until it is a thick puree. Strain the puree through four thicknesses of cheesecloth, pressing the cloth to extract all the juice, and discard the pineapple pulp. Chill the juice and return it to the blender, with 1 1/4 cups firmly packed finely crushed ice and 2 ounces light rum. Blend the mixture at high speed for about 30 seconds, or just until it is the consistency of soft sherbet. Pour the drink into a highball glass and decorate it with a stick of fresh pineapple and a green maraschino cherry. Serve the drink with a straw. The rum may be omitted, if desired."
Who drank the first Piña Colada?
GEORGE DOAN, Philadelphia [May 24, 1989]
"Joan Nathan's story on the invention of the pina colada ["At the Nation's Table", NYTimes, April 19, 1989] was interesting. We were serving pina coladas to our friends in Mexico in 1950, and didn't think there was anything new about them."