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 a Frozen Piña Colada and coconut shrimp!
Mullet Bay is a restaurant down by the St. Simons Island 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 refreshing frozen drinks and the best coconut shrimp in town! Not to mention that Tina – one of my favorite servers on this island – works there and makes every visit a memorable one!
But in the high season, the island's restaurants are always packed and I don’t always feel like waiting an hour or more for a table. So making frozen drinks at home is the next best thing, which means having a homemade Frozen Piña Colada recipe on hand is an absolute must!
What is a Frozen Piña Colada?
A Frozen Piña Colada is a popular tropical cocktail made with Rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice. It’s typically blended with ice until smooth and frothy, served in a hurricane glass with a straw, and garnished with a slice of pineapple and/or a maraschino cherry.
However, there are countless variations of the Frozen Piña Colada that incorporate different ingredients such as lime juice, coconut milk, and Dark Rum to add more flavor and complexity. And occasionally different liqueurs, liquors, fruits, and syrups are also added to enhance the drink’s sweetness or texture.
Frozen Piña Coladas are commonly associated with warm weather and beach vacations. But if you’re anything like me, you enjoy them all year long!
Who created the Frozen Piña Colada?
The Piña Colada, which means "strained pineapple" in Spanish, originated in Puerto Rico. However, the exact time of its creation and who deserves credit for it is a hotly debated topic!
Theory 1: A Pirate created the Frozen Piña Colada
One of the earliest accounts dates back to the 1800s when it is rumored that Puerto Rican Pirate Roberto Cofresi invented the Piña Colada as a way to boost his crew's morale and prevent a mutiny while at sea. Cofresi’s recipe was a closely guarded secret, though, and when he died in 1825 the original recipe died with him, leaving behind no official evidence of his creation. Although this is by far my favorite Piña Colada theory, historians continue to debate it.
Theory 2: A travel magazine created the Frozen Piña Colada
Then in 1922, a travel magazine claimed credit for making a cocktail that resembled the modern-day Piña Colada, albeit without coconut cream. Nonetheless, they utilized Bacardi Rum, which remains the primary spirit used in the making of Piña Coladas to this day.
Theory 3: A hotel bartender created the Frozen Piña Colada
Fast forward to 1954 when the Caribe Hilton Hotel in Puerto Rico credited bartender Ramón "Monchito" Marrero with creating the original recipe for the Piña Colada. Tasked with developing a drink to encapsulate the essence of Puerto Rico, Monchito spent three months working on what we now know as the Frozen Piña Colada. Interestingly, his original version was made as a milkshake until hotel guests discovered that this family-friendly concoction tasted even better with Rum and started asking for the extra ingredient!
Theory 4: A restaurant bartender created the Frozen Piña Colada
Despite widespread agreement among most cocktail historians that Monchito deserves the credit for inventing the Piña Colada, that didn’t stop Old San Juan restaurant, Barrachina, from putting up a fight! They contended that Spanish bartender Don Ramon Portas was actually the one to create the Piña Colada.
Whoever invented it, I'm glad they did!
Regardless of who deserves credit for creating this world-famous drink, Puerto Rico declared the Piña Colada its official cocktail in 1978!
But sadly, by the time the drink made its way to American shores in the 1970s, it had developed a bad reputation for being overly sweet and cheaply made. However, I’m here to challenge that reputation as a well-made Frozen Piña Colada mixed with quality ingredients is anything but!
What does a Frozen Piña Colada taste like?
For me, a Frozen Piña Colada tastes like a tropical paradise in a glass!
The combination of creamy coconut and tangy pineapple creates a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity, while the addition of Rum adds depth and complexity of flavor. And the ice simply gives it a fun and slushy texture that's perfect for sipping on a warm day! The result is a cocktail that’s just the right amount of sweet, fruity, and boozy, especially if your recipe calls for both Light Rum and Dark Rum like mine does!
Overall, a Frozen Piña Colada is a deliciously refreshing drink that's perfect for any occasion, whether you're lounging by the pool or just want a taste of the tropics.
Frozen Piña Colada ingredients
What is Frozen Piña Colada made of? Well, the sky's the limit when it comes to the ingredients used to make this tropical treat! But some must-haves for a classic Frozen Piña Colada recipe include Rum, pineapple juice, and cream of coconut.
That said, you can use Light Rum or a mixture of Light and Dark Rum; you can use only Coconut Rum for a Frozen Piña Colada recipe with Malibu or aged Rum for a slightly more complex drink; 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 additional liquors, liqueurs, flavored syrups; you can add lime juice or skip it altogether...how you make it us up to you!
Personally, I like a super creamy Frozen Piña Colada that’s equally sweet as it is tart, and full of texture and decadence. So to whip up the best Frozen Piña Colada ever you’ll need:
- Light Rum
- Dark Rum
- Cream of Coconut
- Pineapple juice
- Coconut milk
- Frozen pineapple chunks
- Lime juice
How to make a Frozen Piña Colada in a blender
Making a Frozen Piña Colada in a blender is super easy and can be done in just a few simple steps:
- Fill a blender with ice.
- Add all ingredients and blend until smooth.
- Pour your icy deliciousness into a cocktail glass, garnish, and enjoy!
How to make a Frozen Piña Colada with frozen pineapple
If you prefer a Frozen Piña Colada recipe with frozen pineapple as I do, you'll have to allow a little extra time to prep your fruit. In this version of a traditional Piña Colada recipe you'll need to do the following:
- Cut your fresh pineapple into bite-sized chunks and spread them out in an even layer on a baking sheet.
- Place the sheet into your freezer and freeze for about 3 hours.
- When the pineapple is ready, add the ice and frozen pineapple chunks to a blender.
- Blend briefly until chunky.
- Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Pour your Frozen Piña Colada into a cocktail glass of your choice and garnish.
How to make a Frozen Piña Colada with ice cream
It’s super easy to turn your Frozen Piña Colada into more of a boozy milkshake simply by adding ice cream and following the blender steps above! About a cup of ice cream should do it for this creamy Frozen Piña Colada recipe, but feel free to add more or less depending on the consistency of the shake you’re after.
Vanilla is the most common flavor used to make a Frozen Piña Colada with ice cream, but I also like to use coconut and pineapple ice cream as well!
How do you make a Frozen Piña Colada with Bacardi?
You simply follow any of the steps above for the type of Piña Colada you'd like to enjoy and use Bacardi Rum as your spirit of choice!
Can you make a Frozen Piña Colada without alcohol?
Absolutely! You can make a Frozen Piña Colada mocktail simply by leaving out the booze. This is one of those drinks that’s super forgiving and easy to experiment with, so play around with the ratios of ingredients to find the flavor balance that best suits your palate.
One thing to note, however, is that without the alcohol, the drink may be a bit on the sweeter side. To adjust for this, either reduce the cream of coconut or add more pineapple juice and/or lime juice!
How to make a Frozen Virgin Piña Colada
To make a Frozen Piña Colada without alcohol, all you have to do is follow the blender steps above but leave out the booze! You may need a bit more liquid depending on the consistency you prefer, in which case I recommend adding an additional 2 ounces of pineapple juice and going from there.
Does a Piña Colada have to be frozen?
Nope, it sure doesn’t! Although in a traditional Piña Colada recipe the drink is usually frozen, it can be shaken, stirred, or blended with ice. I’ve also seen some fun clarified versions of this drink that I’m yet to try to make myself!
How you drink your Frozen Piña Colada is completely up to you! Some people relish the cold, slushy texture of the frozen version, while others prefer the smoother texture of the shaken or stirred renditions. But you can’t go wrong with any version you choose – in my opinion, they are all scrumptious!
Tools needed to make this easy Frozen Piña Colada Recipe
If you're looking to make an easy Frozen Piña Colada at home, you'll need a few essential tools to ensure that your cocktail turns out perfectly. These are the tools that I personally use:
- Jigger to measure your liquid ingredients
- Juicer to juice the limes
- Measuring cups to measure the ice
- Blender to blend everything together
- Hurricane glasses to sip your drink out of
- Tropical cocktail picks to present your garnish
How to decorate a Piña Colada
Although you usually find a classic Frozen Piña Colada served in a Hurricane glass and garnished with a maraschino cherry and a pineapple wedge, there are no rules when it comes to presentation! Feel free to have some fun and get creative.
Here are a few additional garnish options to get you thinking:
- Cocktail umbrellas
- Pineapple fronds (like I’ve used in mine)
- Edible flowers
- Raw or toasted coconut to rim the glass
- Lime wedge, wheel, or twist
- A chunk of fresh coconut
- Festive paper straws
- Orange wedge, wheel, or twist
When to serve a Frozen Piña Colada
A Frozen Piña Colada is a versatile cocktail that’s perfect for warm weather, tropical-themed parties, or any occasion where you simply want to cool off and transport yourself to the tropics!
It's also a great choice for serving:
- At backyard barbecues, pool parties, or beach gatherings
- As a dessert drink or an after-dinner drink
- For a girls’ night in
Drinks similar to a Frozen Piña Colada
There are heaps of frozen drinks like a Piña Colada that are all great options for those who enjoy sweet, fruity, and tropical flavors. Some of my favorites include:
- Coconut Mojito
- Strawberry Daiquiri
- Banana Colada
- Blue Hawaiian
Common Questions about Frozen Piña Coladas
From ingredient substitutions to freezing suggestions to the best Frozen Piña Colada mix and more, below you can find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about this popular tropical drink to help you craft the perfect Frozen Piña Colada for any occasion.
Can I use coconut milk instead of coconut cream for Piña Colada?
While you can certainly leave out the cream of coconut and use only coconut milk in your Frozen Piña Colada, the resulting cocktail will not be the same. Coconut milk is thinner and not nearly as sweet as cream of coconut, which can make the drink less smooth and rich in texture.
Additionally, coconut milk often has a more pronounced coconut flavor, which may require adjustments to the ratios of the pineapple juice and Rum in order to maintain balance.
However, if you don't have coconut cream on hand or you prefer a lighter version of this cocktail, using a Frozen Piña Colada recipe with coconut milk only can still result in a very tasty drink!
Can you make a Frozen Piña Colada without cream of coconut?
While cream of coconut is traditionally used in making Frozen Piña Coladas, you can certainly leave it out. Just be aware that cream of coconut plays an important role in the texture and sweetness of this drink, so it may take a bit of experimenting to find the perfect recipe to suit your palate. You may need to add a touch of simple syrup if your Frozen Piña Colada without cream of coconut isn’t sweet enough.
What can I substitute for cream of coconut in a Frozen Piña Colada?
If you don't have the cream of coconut on hand, you can use condensed milk or a mixture of coconut milk and sugar instead. You can also mix together condensed milk and coconut milk for a sweeter and creamier alternative.
However, keep in mind that these substitutes may slightly alter the texture and flavor of the cocktail, so you may need to play around with the recipe to find the ingredient ratios that work for you.
Was the original Piña Colada frozen?
Yes! But surprisingly, Puerto Rican Bartender Ramón "Monchito" Marrero, who is widely credited with creating the Piña Colada, originally made it as an alcohol-free milkshake. It wasn't until hotel guests realized that adding Rum made it taste even better and began asking for the boozy addition!
Can you make Frozen Piña Coladas ahead of time?
While it's possible to make Frozen Piña Coladas ahead of time, I don’t recommend it. The ice and the alcohol may separate while it sits in the freezer, which in turn can change the consistency of the drink and make it less smooth and creamy.
However, if you do need to make your Frozen Piña Coladas ahead of time, I suggest leaving out the alcohol until you’re ready to serve them and then adding the booze and giving the drink another quick blend before pouring into glasses. Just keep in mind that the shorter you can freeze the drinks before serving, the better!
Can you freeze Frozen Piña Coladas?
The answer to this is both yes and no. As I mentioned above, you can certainly freeze a Piña Colada, but doing so can affect its texture and consistency. Therefore, I recommend freezing it for as short a time as possible.
How long does a Frozen Piña Colada last in the freezer?
A Frozen Piña Colada will not last in the freezer for an extended period of time. It’s best to consume this cocktail as soon as possible after blending, but if you need to freeze it, I wouldn’t do so for more than a few hours at the absolute most.
What alcohol is best in Piña Colada?
Without a doubt, Rum is the best alcohol to use in a Piña Colada (in my humble opinion)! This drink was created using Rum and therefore isn’t really a Piña Colada without it (again, in my humble opinion).
What’s the best Rum for Frozen Piña Coladas?
The best Rum for a Frozen Piña Colada depends on your personal taste!
Light Rum is most commonly used in making Frozen Piña Coladas as it has a more neutral flavor and allows the other ingredients to really shine. However, Coconut Rum is a popular choice as it adds a more robust coconut flavor to the drink while Dark Rum (usually served as a floater on top) is also commonly used to give a bit of funkiness and depth. Aged Rum is a tasty option as well for those looking for a bit more complexity in their Frozen Piña Coladas.
Ultimately, the best rum for a Frozen Piña Colada is the one (or ones!) that you personally enjoy the most!
How much alcohol is in a Frozen Piña Colada?
While an average-sized Frozen Piña Colada contains around 2 ounces of alcohol, the actual amount of alcohol that ends up in your glass can vary based on a few factors, the ingredients used and the size of the drink being the most significant.
For those looking to up the booze ante, adding a floater of Dark Rum can give your drink an additional ½ ounce to 1 ounce (or more!) of alcohol. Experimenting with different combinations of Rum can also achieve a similar effect.
Keep in mind that the alcohol by volume (ABV) in the Rum you choose can impact the overall potency of your Frozen Piña Colada as well. For example, 2 ounces of Rum with an ABV of 30% will create a different buzz than 2 ounces of Rum with an ABV of 40%!
Is a Piña Colada strong?
Generally speaking, a Piña Colada is considered a moderately strong cocktail. However, the strength of it ultimately depends on the recipe, the amount and type of alcohol used, and the serving size.
Can you get drunk on a Frozen Piña Colada?
Ahhh, the age-old question! Well, the short answer is “Yes.” The longer answer is “That depends!”
As with any alcoholic beverage, it is absolutely possible to get drunk on a Frozen Piña Colada. However, body size, drinking habits, and alcohol content of the cocktail all play a significant role in how much a person can consume before feeling intoxicated.
People generally believe that larger individuals can consume more alcohol than smaller individuals due to differences in body mass and metabolism. But here’s the kicker – that’s not always the case! And that’s where drinking habits come in.
For instance, imagine a strapping 200-pound man who never drinks a drop of booze. Chances are he may feel the effects after just one Frozen Piña Colada. On the other hand, a petite 120-pound woman who drinks alcohol regularly may not feel a thing after downing a few of these tropical delights!
All that to say, getting tipsy on a Frozen Piña Colada is definitely a possibility, but it's not a one-size-fits-all situation.
Can you use Vodka instead of Rum in a Piña Colada?
You sure can! This variation of a Frozen Piña Colada is known as the Chi Chi.
Does frozen Piña Colada mix have alcohol in it?
Frozen Piña Colada mixes typically do not contain alcohol, but some do so be sure to read the label carefully if you’re looking for a non-alcoholic mix.
Can I make a Frozen Piña Colada with a mix?
You can certainly make a Frozen Piña Colada with a mix! But personally, I don’t think there’s any comparison between a Frozen Piña Colada made with fresh ingredients compared to one that’s made from a mix. Fresh is so much better!
That said, I know sometimes it’s easier, cheaper, and/or faster to make drinks from a mix, so we can still be friends if you choose to go this route.
What’s the best Frozen Piña Colada mix?
Because I don’t ever use pre-made mixes when making cocktails, I can’t offer a personal recommendation on the best Frozen Piña Colada mix. However, I know that the Bacardi Frozen Piña Colada mix is a fan favorite!
Other highly rated Piña Colada mix brands include:
- Coco López
- Zing Zang
- Mary’s Mixers
- Island Oasis
- Naked Juice
You can also find Frozen Piña Colada mix in a can (such as Goya) or Frozen Piña Colada mix in a pouch (like Lt. Blender).
Where to buy frozen Piña Colada mix near me?
You can buy Piña Colada mixes from a variety of online shops and retail stores. Some options include:
- Bacardi Frozen Piña Colada mix at Publix
- Coco López Piña Colada mix on Amazon
- Zing Zang Piña Colada mix on Amazon
- Mary’s Mixers Piña Colada mix on Amazon or Mary's Mixers
- Monin Piña Colada Smoothie Mix on Amazon
- Casamigos Casa Colada Cocktail Mix at Williams-Sonoma
- Island Oasis Piña Colada Drink Mix on Amazon
- Naked Juice Piña Colada at Publix
- Torani Piña Colada mix on Amazon
- Mr. and Mrs. T Piña Colada Mix on Amazon (for a large quanity) or Walmart
- Daily’s Frozen Piña Colada mix on Amazon or at Walmart
- Lt. Blender Piña Colada Drink Mix in a bag on Amazon
- Jordan's Skinny Syrups Sugar Free Piña Colada Cocktail Mix on Amazon
How many calories are in a Frozen Piña Colada?
According to Food Network, the calories in a Frozen Piña Colada with Rum can vary depending on the ingredients used. Their research showed that an average 10 oz Frozen Piña Colada made with cream of coconut, pineapple juice, and Rum has 818 calories.
How many calories in a Frozen Virgin Piña Colada?
While the number of calories in a Frozen Virgin Piña Colada can vary depending on the ingredients and portion size, myfitnesspal lists a generic Frozen Virgin Piña Colada as having 250 calories per glass.
How many carbs are in a Frozen Piña Colada?
According to myfitnesspal, a 10 oz Frozen Piña Colada has 44 grams of carbs.
The Frozen Piña Colada Wrap Up
Originating in Puerto Rico, a Frozen Piña Colada is a popular tropical cocktail combining pineapple juice, coconut cream, and Rum. It is traditionally served frozen but can be stirred, shaken, or clarified as well. Frozen Piña Coladas can also be made without alcohol or with ice cream, it's completely up to you!
This drink tastes delicious in every form, so whether you're lounging on the beach or just need a taste of the tropics at home, a Frozen Piña Colada is the perfect drink to sip and savor all year long.
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