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The Invention Of The Pina Colada Is Steeped In Mystery – Drink Up!

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pina colada day

National Pina Colada Day is observed annually on July 10th.  The Pina Colada is a sweet, rum-based cocktail.  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.

There are different claims to the invention of the Pina Colada beginning in 1952 in San Juan, each sticking to their story.  The truth is that pineapple and rum have been together from the beginning of the distillation of rum.  The first written reference to a Pina Colada was in 1922.  This recipe, however, did not include coconut.

As befits a drink born of tropic fruits from tropical shores, stirred with a drink distilled from the rich sugar born drink favored by merchants and pirates alike, the history of the Pina Colada is steeped is mystery, folklore, and conflict. The first and oldest story of the drink is born in the Caribbean waters around Puerto Rico, upon the ship of one Roberto Cofresi, Captain of a crew of the foulest batch of pirates to sail the seas in the early 19th century. While this is the earliest known origin of the drink, used to boost the morale of the crew, the recipe was lost for a time after his death in 1825.

It wasn’t until 1954 that the drink was to find itself rediscovered by one Ricardo Garcia, a mixologist born in Barcelona and working at a Hilton. This story tells that it was discovered as a series of fortunately unfortunate events, starting with a strike of the coconut cutters union that led to a shortage of the favored cup of the resorts favored drink, the Coco-Loco. Without a freshly macheted coconut shell to serve it in, Ricardo adapted to the circumstances in front of him by presenting the drink in a hollowed out pineapple instead. Thus, according to this bit of lore, the Pina Colada was reborn.

Another story says the piña colada was created on August 16, 1954 at the Caribe Hilton’s Beachcomber Bar in San Juan, Puerto Rico by its alleged creator, Ramón “Monchito” Marrero.  Apparently, the hotel management had expressly requested Monchito to mix a new signature drink that would delight the demanding palates of its star-studded clientele.

Monchito accepted the challenge, and after three intense months of blending, shaking and experimenting, the first piña colada was born.

This story is more credible because the piña colada contains coconut cream as one of the primary ingredients, and the coconut cream of “Coco López” (which is the pioneer) was invented in 1954 in the University of Puerto Rico by Ramón López Irizarry.

Please drink responsibly AND never drink and drive!

Sources:

National Day Calendar

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