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History of the classic Piña Colada

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1954 | Puerto Rico

 

In Spanish, Piña Colada means "strained pineapple". In practice, the combination of rum, pineapple juice, and coconut milk is famous from the beginning of the 19th century, but its creation is ascribed to Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresi.

How exactly this pirate drink turned into a contemporary cocktail is not exactly clear, but the question of "when?" can be answered fairly exactly: in the 1950s, the PINA COLADA first appeared on the menu of the Beachcomber bar at the Caribbean Hilton in Puerto Rico.

But let's return to the "strained pineapple". In 1954, Ramon Monchito Marrero Pérez, a bartender at the Caribbean Hilton, spent three months perfecting a recipe before adding the PINA COLADA to the bar menu. Afterward, the whole hotel chain began actively promoting it. Another figure in the story is Ricardo Gracia, a bartender at the hotel's Madrid location, who more than once toured the Puerto Rican Hilton, thought to serve the PINA COLADA in hollowed-out coconuts and pineapples.

It's worth mentioning that a restaurant called La Barrachina enters into the chronology of events, located in San Juan's old city. According to the plaque that hangs over the door to this day, it was there in 1963 that a modest bartender named Ramon couldn't gather up the courage to introduce himself to a pretty girl, and ultimately confessed his feelings by creating an especially spicy cocktail for the girl. The girl was supposedly moved by the gesture, and accepted his proposal. This is all well and good, but at that moment, the PINA COLADA had already been on the Caribbean Hilton's cocktail menu for nine years.

In 1978, the PINA COLADA was officially declared a Costa Rican treasure and the country's national cocktail. A year later, pop charts worldwide featured a song by the group Escape called "Pina Colada Song". Since then, relaxing under the sun just isn't complete without a glass of this drink, with paper umbrella and all.

 

See the recipe

 

Historian: Vladimir Zhuravlev

Illustration: Moe

Journalists: Sara Davis, Samantha Johnson

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