Summer is upon us! I mean, not technically, what with the equinoxes and solstices and all that stuff I’m supposed to remember from sixth grade science class. But practically speaking, it’s here. In that spirit, here’s a perfect drink for summer, our very first Tiki drink to be featured on Cocktail Fridays: a Coconut Milk Piña Colada! Creamy, fruity, sweet and a little funky, the Piña Colada is perfectly tropical for summer. – Andrew
The Piña Colada
1 1/2 oz Light Rum
1 oz Dark Rum
2 oz Coconut Milk
1 oz Heavy Cream
4 oz Pineapple Juice
1 Dash Bitters
Combine everything in a shaker and shake well with lots of ice. Strain into a tall glass filled with fresh ice, garnish with some fresh pineapple and/or cherries, and enjoy!
Lots of people blend their Piña Coladas. I’m not one of them. There’s nothing wrong, in general, with blended drinks, but if you don’t drink them down quickly, you risk a glass filled with melted ice and watered-down booze. Blending leaves ice crystals too small and melting pretty quickly, too quickly for my tastes. So try shaking and then straining over crushed ice instead – you’ll get some of the same slushy effect as blending, but your ice will stay frozen a bit longer.
The Piña Colada hails from Puerto Rico, where, in the 1950s, Ramón Marrero first blended one up at the Caribe Hilton. Victor Bergeron, the Trader Vic of Tiki drink fame, later helped popularize it. It’s not hard to see why. Not just delicious, this drink is just a lot of fun.
The earliest version of this drink used coconut cream, pineapple juice (hence the name), and light rum. I’ve borrowed and tweaked this recipe a bit from Dale Degroff, who uses both dark and light rum, as well as some Angosutra bitters, to add a lot of complexity and a bit of rum funkiness to an otherwise fairly straightforward drink. I also like to use coconut milk over coconut cream because, why not? The heavy cream ensures the Piña Colada remains extraordinarily rich and delicious (and full of calories).
Just make sure you use plenty of pineapple juice. I tried this recipe with half as much, and the result was a bit bitter and plenty dull. The pineapple gives this drink a sweet zip that’s the Piña Colada’s heart and soul. Well, that and the rum.
Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper