The Piña Colada is a classic sweet, coconutty cocktail synonymous with warm tropical beaches, Caribbean cruises, and, of course, that infectious 1970s tune about getting caught in the rain. You know which one I’m talking about.
Depending on who you believe, the fruity Piña Colada was invented either by a hotel bartender or a 19th century Caribbean pirate. In either case, all signs point to the Piña Colada’s originating in Puerto Rico, where it became the national cocktail in 1978. One year later, Rupert Holmes would release his worldwide hit song “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” forever cementing this tropical cocktail’s place anywhere there’s sun, beaches, and booze.
The Piña Colada’s refreshingly sweet coconutty creaminess blends perfectly with tart, tropical pineapple flavor.
2 oz White rum: Any nice mid-range white rum will do.
2 oz Cream of coconut: This is a sweetened, condensed coconut milk, such as Coco López. Note: this is not coconut water, coconut milk, or coconut cream.
1½ oz Pineapple juice: Store bought pineapple juice works just fine. Let’s be honest, ain’t nobody juicing no damn pineapples.
Pineapple leaf, pineapple wedge, and a cherry: as a garnish.
Add ice to the blender. The liquid ingredients should sit about an inch below the ice.
Blend until smooth, then pour into a hurricane glass
Garnish with the Pineapple leaf, pineapple wedge, and cherry
There are many variations on the Piña Colada so feel free to experiment.
If you’re really into coconut, substitute white rum with coconut rum, like Malibu.
Replacing white rum with vodka makes a Chi Chi or a Vodka Colada. In fact, cream of coconut and pineapple with anything will turn it into some kind of colada—amaretto colada, Kahlua colada, Midori Colada, etc. When bartenders start getting calls for bacon coladas then we may have gone too far.
Squeeze in a lime or two for an additional tart fruity kick.
For a little textural contrast, substitute pineapple juice for pineapple chunks. Blending the pineapple beforehand may be helpful, as you will likely need less ice.
Add ½ oz Blue Curacao for a coconutty version of the Blue Hawaiian.
Serve in a hollow pineapple instead of a hurricane glass if you’re going all in on the tropical thing. You can probably skip the pineapple garnish.
For a virgin (non-alcoholic) Piña Colada, substitute rum with coconut milk, coconut juice, or pineapple juice. Or just don’t add any booze, I guess.
If pineapple juice is unavailable, substituting orange juice provides some of the same fruity tropical flavor. Consider adding a squeeze of lime (see above) for added sharp acidity.
High-quality Piña Colada mix from Cocktail Artist is a convenient, high quality substitute for pineapple juice and cream of coconut. This is especially useful if you don’t plan on making many cocktails and are afraid of having extra ingredients lying around.
If cream of coconut is unavailable, try using coconut cream sweetened with sugar or condensed milk.
No blender? No problem! Shake in a mixing tin with ice and strain over crushed ice. No crushed ice? No problem! Put regular ice in a canvas bag and beat the hell out of it with something big and heavy.
When to Serve a Piña Colada
Piña Coladas are synonymous with warm weather, blue ocean, and tropical surroundings. There’s no rule saying you can’t drink them at an Aspen ski resort, but you might get some funny looks at the lodge.
Warm weather/outdoor activities: Whether, boating, grilling, or just sitting on the porch. Come on man, it’s a booze-filled smoothie!
Hosting parties: Especially outdoor or tropical theme parties. The Piña Colada brings the fun, relaxing spirit of being on vacation to any event. Save time by making a large batch beforehand, blending and serving as needed.
For/with dessert: A sweet and pleasant way to end a good meal.
After dinner: when you’re finished eating but not finished partying.
What to Serve with a Piña Colada
Caribbean food, especially anything grilled with sweet and spicy elements.
Thai food, especially coconut curries and spicy dishes
Medium-bodied fish, such as fish tacos, shrimp, or lobster.
Garth Brooks famously sang “bring me two Piña Coladas, one for each hand,” but you should always remember to always enjoy responsibly!