Koktail Kicks : Piña Colada

Koktail Magazine

21 Oct 2022

Your weekly spill-all on classic cocktails—their origin stories, their ingredients, and why we love them

We all have that one friend who always orders Piña Colada on a night out and for a good reason. Even though some claim not to like it due to its sweetness, this pineapple-coconut-rum drink is so perfect for hot and humid weather we experience in Thailand. It is rich, creamy, refreshing, and has a full-flavour taste, just like the story of how it came to be.

Originating in Puerto Rico, the drink name Piña Colada means “strained pineapple”. It’s so worldly popular that three bartenders each claim they invented the drink. Two of those stories were set at the Caribe Hilton Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The most well-known being that the iconic summer drink was created by bartender Ramón “Monchito” Marrero in 1954 who was tasked to create the hotel bar signature. He mixed Piña Colada by using tropical ingredients like pineapple juice, coconut cream and white rum and ta-da Puerto Rico’s National drink was born. Yes, piña colada was really declared the official drink of this Caribbean Island country in 1978, 24 years after it was concocted. And in honour of the 50th anniversary of the beverage, the Caribe Hilton Hotel was gifted with a proclamation signed by Puerto Rico’s Governor in 2004. So many accolades for a sweet summery drink.

But a far juicier story claims that the drink was invented by swashbuckling Puerto Rican pirate, Roberto Cofresí or “El Pirata Cofresí”. Legend has it that during the early 1800s, Cofresí created the drink to quell the minds and soothe the spirits of his potentially riotous crews by using the scarce ingredients he could find on his ships; rum, coconut, and pineapple juice. What better way to wind down the day after creating havoc and mayhem with the fleets of the powerful European seafaring nations.

No matter how it was created, Pina Colada boomed in North America and gained popularity in places such as Hawaii and Miami due to its similar tropical vibes. The popularity was entrenched when the cocktail name was used in a hit song Escape (The Piña Colada Song), which later became one of the Billboard Hot 100 hits of the entire decade.

So order one tonight if you like Piña Coladas and getting caught in the rain, are not into yoga, and have half a brain, because a happy coconut pineapple drink deserves nothing less.