The Pina Colada is one of the most famous sweet cocktails in the world, and the name alone conjures images of beaches and sunshine for many people.
I have personally made, served, and also enjoyed my fair share of Piña Coladas while working at a beach bar. I still celebrate National Pina Colada Day every year on July 10th.
History of the Pina Colada
The Piña Colada was first created at the Caribe Hilton Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico by a bartender named Ramón “Monchito” Marrero. It became very popular with hotel guests, and the hotel bar officially added the drink to its menu in 1954.
The drink continued to gain popularity around the Caribbean at beach bars and hotels. By 1978, this refreshing cocktail had become so popular that the government of Puerto Rico officially declared the Piña Colada the country’s national drink.
Word quickly spread from the islands to the rest of the world about this simple and delicious cocktail. The Piña Colada was adopted by many different large restaurant and hotel chains, and the fact that it is often served in a pineapple or coconut shell made it even more memorable.
Today, the Piña Colada is considered to be a “staple drink” by just about every beach bar in the world. It is one of the most popular beach drinks on nearly every menu, along with other drinks that are often frozen and blended like Margaritas and Daiquiris.
I have personally served hundreds of Piña Coladas while working at a beach bar, and I have seen firsthand what a popular drink it is. Many people who are on vacation love to get the party started with a Piña Colada, and it joined the Margarita as the most popular frozen drink at my bar.
Celebrating Piña Colada Day in 2023
One of the best places in the world to celebrate National Pina Colada Day is the birthplace of the drink itself. Every year, the Caribe Hilton Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico hosts a large party celebrating National Pina Colada Day.
While the festivities, drink specials, and menu items change from year to year, one of the most memorable celebrations ever held at the hotel took place in 2014. In honor of the Piña Colada’s 60th anniversary, the hotel served its original menu from 1954.
In the continental US, the best city to celebrate National Piña Colada Day is Miami, Florida. There are many different bars and restaurants around town that hold celebrations and offer drink specials, with La Cañita being one of the most popular options.
Celebrating Piña Colada Day in 2024
While it is still a bit early for specific announcements and plans regarding celebrations for National Piña Colada Day, it is safe to assume that some of the best parties next year will take place in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Miami, Florida.
How to Make a Piña Colada
The first and most important ingredient in any Piña Colada is pineapple. The majority of bars and restaurants use pineapple juice, but it is always best to use freshly juiced or blended pineapple when possible.
The next step when making a Piña Colada is to add coconut. Some bartenders prefer to use cream of coconut, while others strictly use coconut milk. Other recipes call for a combination of both, and the exact recipe and portions vary depending on location.
White rum and dark rum can both be used in the Piña Colada, and many bartenders use a combination of the two. Most recipes call for a larger portion of white rum, and coconut-flavored rum like Malibu is also sometimes used.
With many other cocktails and drinks, presentation is an afterthought compared to the drink itself. This is not the case with the Piña Colada, as the proper presentation and garnish are essential to the overall drinking experience.
One of the most iconic ways to serve a large Piña Colada inside of a hollowed-out pineapple. Other beach bars and resorts serve their Piña Coladas inside of coconut shells instead, and nearly all Piña Coladas are finished with a pineapple wedge on the rim and a cherry on top.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where Was the Piña Colada Created?
The Piña Colada originated at the Caribe Hilton Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A bartender named Ramón “Monchito” Marrero first came up with the drink, and soon regular guests were asking for the drink so often that the hotel bar officially added it to the menu.
What Are the Ingredients of a Piña Colada?
The three most important ingredients in a Piña Colada are pineapple or pineapple juice, coconut milk or cream of coconut, and rum. White or dark rum can be used, as well as a combination of both. The Piña Colada is often served in a pineapple or coconut and finished with a cherry garnish.
Can the Piña Colada Be Made Without Alcohol?
Like many other tropical frozen drinks, the Piña Colada can be made completely free of alcohol. A virgin Piña Colada can sometimes contain zero-proof liquor substitutes, or just skip the addition of rum altogether. Bars, where Piña Coladas are made in batches, are not usually able to make a virgin Piña Colada.
The Piña Colada is one of the most popular fruity tropical cocktails in the entire world. It originated in Puerto Rico, and it has grown to become one of the most popular and iconic beach drinks on earth.
Feel free to leave a comment below if you know of any National Pina Colada Day celebrations, and be sure to let others know your favorite Piña Colada recipe!