Raising the bar: a day for piña coladas

If you like piña coladas … then July the 10th is your day, as it is International Piña Colada Day!

The piña colada is one of the Cayman Islands' most popular cocktails (with locals and visitors alike) and there are numerous variations on the theme across the many bars, restaurants and resorts on the island.

Personally, but genuinely without (much) bias, I am inclined toward Coccoloba’s classic recipe and decadently "slurshing" (It's a word. Trust me. No need to look it up.) its viscous deliciousness and the mix of light, dark and coconut rums they serve it swirled with. However, I will happily quaff whichever variant is on offer wherever I am.

If you find yourself in the restaurant or bar in Ave at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, you’ll find a twist on the Champagne piña colada called "Escape (If you like Pina Coladas)," in which we sous vide fresh pineapple and local coconut into white rum, then shake it with fresh coconut and local pineapple before straining it into sparkling wine in a coconut sand encrusted flute glass.

The traditional sumptuous sweet, fruity and fresh mix of pineapple, coconut and rum is much older than the song that has boosted its already global renown, originating sometime in the 1950s, but definitely in Puerto Rico. (There is a 1922 drink that bears the same name and comes from Cuba, but this was essentially a pineapple daiquiri, and is perhaps the framework on which the masterpiece was painted.)

Three Puerto Rican bartenders lay claim to the creation of the modern classic cocktail, two from the Caribe Hilton in San Juan and one from Barrachina restaurant in Old San Juan. Regardless of the actual progenitor, one thing is for sure: The drink as we know it wouldn’t exist without Don Ramón Lopez Irizarry.

Don Ramón was an agriculture professor at the University of Puerto Rico who used a government grant to develop an answer to the problem of obtaining and stabilising the cream of the heart of the coconut. In 1948, by mixing the coconut flesh with a secret process and recipe involving natural cane sugar, he created Coco Lopez cream of coconut (not to be confused with coconut cream), which became the sweet, sticky, gooey heart of the piña colada.

Here's the classic piña colada recipe:

Ingredients:

2 ounces light rum (or a blend of light, dark and coconut rum)
3 ounces fresh pressed pineapple juice
1 ounce Coco Lopez cream of coconut
½ ounce fresh lime juice
¼ cup frozen pineapple chunks
Pinch of sea salt

Method:

Add all of the ingredient to a blender with 2-3 ice cubes and blend on high for 20-30 seconds. Serve in a large glass — or a cored frozen pineapple!
Umbrella is optional, just like the pineapple sunglasses and the tiki shirt.

Jim Wrigley is the beverage manager at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa.

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This article appears in print in the July 2021 edition of Camana Bay Times.

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