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The True Inventor Of The Pina Colada Is As Varied As The Drink

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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 Peurto 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.
  • 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.
  • The piña colada has been the official beverage of Puerto Rico since 1978.

Sources:

National Day Calendar

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An experienced TV News manager, Mark Young is highly regarded as one of the most well respected and trusted media leaders in Florida. In over 40 years in the broadcast industry, Mark has managed news operations in small and large markets throughout the United States. As Broward Bureau Manager for CBS4 News, Mark was responsible for all news developments throughout Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Mark now oversees the daily publication of two online news sites “South Florida Reporter” and “Southwest Florida Reporter.”