Sunday, 10 July 2022

Happy Piña Colada Day – a little cocktail history and the original recipe

Old San Juan in Puerto Rico. Image by Zixi Zhou on Unsplash

Piña Coladas are a bit like Marmite – you either love ‘em or hate ‘em. They might not have the sophisticated image of a Negroni or an Old Fashioned, but you’d probably also never dream of drinking one of those on a beach in Puerto Rico. 

Like most cocktails, the history surrounding them is a little contentious. The most popular story goes that on 15 August 1954, Ramon ‘Monchito’ Marrero was working as head bartender at the Beachcomber Bar in San Juan’s Caribe Hilton. He poured pineapple juice, creamy coconut (likely Coco Lopez cream of coconut, which was newly available at the time) and a decent slug of Don Q rum into a blender – and a legend was born. 

However, Ricardo Garcia, who also worked at the Caribe, said it was actually him who invented it, and Ramon Portas Mingot also claims it was his idea, but at the Barrachina Restaurant in Old San Juan around a decade later. 

Interestingly, Diffords Guide reports there was written reference to a drink named Piña Colada back in a Travel magazine issue from December 1922. That however didn’t feature any coconut. 

The Piña Colada has gone in and out of fashion over the years. Quality levels took a serious hit in the 1970s as bartenders made quick giant versions with cheap mixers, but that’s been clawed back in recent years, with lighter twists and more focus on quality ingredients.

There’s still a lot of love out there for the Piña Colada, and it even has its own day: 10 July. So grab some ‘strained pineapple’, whip up some desserts, add a bit of coconut and rum to your Hawaiian pizza (ok, or maybe don't), and of course, mix up a taste of tropical sunshine in a glass. 

So if you like Piña Coladas (…and getting caught in the rain. Sorry, it had to be in here somewhere), here’s what is most likely the OG Piña Colada recipe. And even if it’s not, it’s delicious anyway. 

Don Q Piña Colada recipe

Piña Colada cocktail


60ml (2oz) Don Q Gold (we elevated ours with Don Q Reserva 7)

45ml (1.5oz) fresh pineapple juice

30ml (1oz) Coco Lopez cream of coconut

1 dash Angostura bitters

1 cherry for garnish


Blend the ingredients with half a scoop of cubed ice until light and frothy. Aerated, not thick. Pour into a tulip glass and garnish with a cherry. 

Do you love or loathe a Piña Colada? Let us know in the comments below.