July 10th recognizes a sweet, rum-based cocktail on National Pina Colada Day. Along with rum, a Pina Colada includes cream of coconut and pineapple juice and is usually served blended or shaken with ice.
Pina Colada means ‘strained pineapple,’ a reference to the freshly pressed and strained pineapple juice used in the drink.
While pineapple has been a part of the distillation history of rum, coconut didn’t show up until later. The first written reference to a pina colada was in 1922. However, two different claims to the invention of the pina colada in 1952 come from San Juan. Neither wavers from their story.
One version of who created The piña colada hails from San Juan, Puerto Rico where it was created by bartender Ramón “Monchito” Marrero at the Caribe Hilton in 1954. He mixed up a fruity blend of rum, coconut cream and pineapple juice and boom. Everyone’s favorite summer treat was created.
2nd Story goes like this: Another popular story falls in the domain of folklore and has all the elements of an exciting Caribbean adventure. It involves a famous pirate Roberto Cofresi and his adventures crew. According to this article, the pirate captain served his crew with his own version of Grog, mixing pineapple juice and coconut milk with rum. According to legend, he took his recipe to his grave at the bottom of the sea.
Coconut was a major commodity on the island, along with pineapple as well, which made it a clear choice for don Ramon. Also, this was around the time that Coco Lopez, a creamy coconut extract mixed with natural cane sugar, found its way to the supermarket shelves. It was an essential ingredient that allowed the bartender to make the cocktail by the gallons. Everything came together, except one missing ingredient which was added later on. It was, of course, genuine Puerto Rican rum.
The identity of its creator is still an unresolved controversy on the island.
No matter who created the first creamy, sweet rum drink, it is forever infused with the ocean and beaches. The cocktail’s bright flavor suggests sunshine and vacation. Coconut alone makes us think of suntans while the pineapple’s freshness delivers a sparkling note of summer breezes.
The beverage isn’t the only way to celebrate either. The day is dedicated to all things pina colada. Whether we make a dessert or snack on pina colada jelly beans, everyone can join in the day.
The popularity of the cocktail skyrocketed in a matter of no time. Everybody who visited the island was raving about it and couldn’t get enough of it. Famous American singers Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. absolutely loved it. John Wayne and his Hollywood co-star Joan Crawford didn’t shy away from it either. The drink was finally established as the national drink of Puerto Rico in 1978.
Then made a resurgence with the release of the song Rupert Holmes – Escape (The Pina Colada Song) December 1979.