The Pina Colada is more than the subject of a 70s hit song. Puerto Rico’s national drink is also a frothy, fruity cocktail that’s surprisingly simple to make at home either with or without a blender. We go the blender-free route in this easy Pina Colada recipe and it’s a winner.
It’s impossible for us to discuss our Pina Colada recipe without breaking into song.
Rupert Holmes’ Escape burnt into our memories long before we were legally able to drink the milky rum libation or even think about making love at midnight in the dunes on the cape. Dating back to 1979, it’s a catchy yacht rock tune that’s passed the test of time with flying colors.
We suspect you’re in the same beachside boat if you’re a Gen X’er too. If not, once you listen to Holmes’ Escape (also known as the ‘Pina Colada Song‘), you won’t be able to liberate the tune from your ears either.
However, the best approach is to craft a Pina Colada cocktail at home and drink it with Escape blasting in the background. Not only will your taste buds sing with happiness, but you’ll feel like you’re on a sunny Caribbean beach regardless of the actual location and season.
What Is The Pina Colada?
Although piña colada literally translates to strained pineapple, the Pina Colada that we all know and love is something more. A lot more.
The Pina Colada is a classic rum cocktail that’s crafted with rum, cream of coconut, pineapple juice and lime juice. It’s a tropical drink that’s both frothy and fruity. And, depending on the bartender, the Pina Colada can be crafted with either a blender or a shaker.
History Of The Pina Colada Cocktail
The Pina Colada seems like it should have been created at a tropical beach resort and that’s exactly where it was born. Puerto Rican barman Ramon Marrero blended the original Pina Colada with five ingredients (rum, coconut cream, heavy cream, fresh pineapple juice and crushed ice) more than a half-century ago.
Marrero didn’t just craft the world’s first Pina Colada at the Caribe Hilton in sunny San Jose in 1954. He also crafted a cocktail legend – a status that was legitimized in 1978 when the Piña Colada was designated Puerto Rico’s official drink.
While Marrero included both coconut cream and heavy cream in his original Pina Colada recipe, we include the following ingredients in our Pina Colada recipe:
White rum is the only liquor in our Pina Colada recipe.
We like to use Bacardi Carta Blanca rum since that’s what we typically have in our liquor cabinet. As a bonus, the popular rum, which has a 37.5% ABV, is distilled in Puerto Rico.
Discover our favorite rum cocktails.
Cream of Coconut
You may be tempted to use a can of coconut cream instead of cream of coconut. Don’t do it! Despite the similar names, the two liquids are not the same.
The easiest option is to buy a can of Coco Lopez cream of coconut from your local market. Another option is to make cream of coconut at home with just three ingredients – coconut milk, granulated sugar and salt. We used this easy cream of coconut recipe and will probably use it again.
Freshly made cream of coconut is so delicious that you’ll want to lick the spoon if you whip up a batch at home.
How To Craft A Pina Colada Cocktail
Unlike Marrero’s original recipe, our recipe doesn’t require a blender. We experimented with Pina Colada recipes using our blender. However, it turns out that we prefer a simpler approach using the basic bar tools.
The first step is to measure the three liquids with a jigger. We use a Japanese jigger for the this and other recipes to get accurate, clean pours.
Buy a Japanese jigger from Amazon if you need a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade.
Immediately pour each liquid directly into a shaker. We use a Boston shaker for this and other recipes since it doesn’t leak and is easy to clean.
Add ice and shake until the liquids are combined and chilled. This step should take about 20 seconds.
Strain the shaken drink into a glass of your choice. We like to use a lowball glass but you may want to use a Hurricane glass or Poco Grande glass instead.
We also like to drink our Pina Colada on the rocks. However, you can opt for crushed ice or no ice instead.
Garnish with a pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry or two.
Adding a cocktail umbrella isn’t required. However, adding one provides a tropical touch that completes the drink.
Hopefully, you will love our Pina Colada recipe just the way it is. Either way, feel free to make it your own using one of the following variations:
Discover 10 essential bar tools for the home mixologist.
Frequently Asked Questions
A Pina Colada is classic rum cocktail that’s crafted with rum, cream of coconut, pineapple juice and lime juice
The Pina Colada was invented in Puerto Rico.
White Rum, Cream of Coconut, Lime Juice, Pineapple Juice, Pineapple Wedge (garnish), Maraschino Cherry (garnish) and Ice Cubes
The Pina Colada cocktail is shaken unless it’s blended.
Drinking any cocktail in excess will cause intoxication. The Pina Colada is no exception to this rule.
Although a proper Pina Colada is crafted with natural ingredients, it’s a stretch to call it healthy considering the cocktail’s high levels of both sugar and saturated fat.
Did you craft this cocktail? If so, please rate the recipe below.
Pina Colada Recipe
- Pour rum, pineapple juice, cream of coconut and lime juice into a shaker.
- Add ice cubes and shake until the liquids are combined and chilled.
- Strain into a glass of your choice. (We like to add ice cubes to the glass but they're optional since the mixture is already chilled.)
- Garnish with a pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry.
- Do not replace the cream of coconut with coconut cream. The two liquids are completely different.
- Pull out the blender if you want to craft a blended Pina Colada.
About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: June 11, 2023