After a hot afternoon on the beach in St. Simons, one of my favorite things to do when friends and family are in town is to leave the beach and go straight to Mullet Bay for Piña Coladas and coconut shrimp!
Mullet Bay is a restaurant down by the pier that’s been around since I was a child. We used to eat there with my grandfather, so every time I go it’s like stepping back in time. The teal paint, the huge tropical plants, the Key West-like island décor – it hasn’t changed a bit and the nostalgia factor always makes me smile. Plus, they serve yummy frozen drinks and the best coconut shrimp in town, not to mention that Tina – our favorite server on this island – works there and makes every visit a memorable one!
But in the summertime high season the island's restaurants are always packed, and I’m no longer someone that’s willing to wait an hour+ for a table. So making frozen drinks at home is the next best thing, which means having a tasty frozen Piña Colada recipe on hand is an absolute must!
Piña Colada origin
Meaning "strained pineapple" in Spanish, the Piña Colada originated in Puerto Rico back in the 1950s. However, its exact origin is hotly debated!
The earliest known story states that in the 19th Century, Puerto Rican Pirate Roberto Cofresi created the Piña Colada to boost his crew's morale while out at sea, but when he died in 1825 the original recipe died with him. Although this is by far my favorite theory, historians debate it.
The next to claim credit for the creation of the Piña Colada was the Caribe Hilton Hotel in Puerto Rico, which credited bartender Ramón "Monchito" Marrero for coming up with the original recipe in 1954. However, in 1963 Puerto Rican restaurant Barrachina proclaimed that Spanish bartender Don Ramon Portas was actually the one to create it. Regardless of who deserves credit for creating this world famous drink, Puerto Rico claimed the Piña Colada its official cocktail in 1978!
But sadly, by the time it made its way to American shores in the 1970s it had earned a bad rap for being overly sweet and cheaply made. However, I’m here to challenge that reputation because a well-made Piña Colada that’s mixed with quality ingredients is anything but!
Piña Colada Ingredients
The main ingredients in a Piña Colada are Rum, coconut and pineapple. However, like most tropical drinks, there are endless recipe variations for this famous frozen tipple. You can use light Rum or a mixture of light and dark Rum; you can use only Coconut Rum for a Malibu Piña Colada; you can combine both cream of coconut and coconut milk together or leave out either one; you can use fresh pineapple, pineapple juice or both; you can add fruit besides pineapple or you can get creative by adding additional liquors/liqueurs for; you can add lime juice or to skip it altogether...how you make it us up to you!
How to make a Piña Colada
A Piña Colada is typically served either blended or shaken with ice. However, I've seen some fun clarifed versions of this drink that I'm yet to try to make myself! And while you usually find a Piña Colada served in a Hurricane glass and garnished with a maraschino cherry, there are no rules when it comes to presentation!
This is my take on a classic frozen Piña Colada, which is geared towards folks who like the funkiness of dark Rum and tropical drinks that err on the less sweet side. But stay tuned because I have other variations in the works for those of you who like a sweeter or more coconut-forward style!