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Was The Pina Colada Invented By A Pirate In the 1800’s Or A Bartender In The 1950’s?

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 1989 – The Caribe Hilton, a premier luxury hotel in San Juan, claims that the pina colada was created in its Beachcombers Bar in 1954 by Ramon “Monchito” Marrero. They claim he was asked to create a signature drink that captured the flavors of the island and that he spent three months experimenting with hundreds of combinations before perfecting the pina  They say Monchito mixed and served his creation for 35 years until he retired in 1989. 
  • 1954 – Ricardo Gracia, who also served drinks at the Caribe Hilton, claims he made the pina colada in 1954. He says there was a strike by a coconut-cutters union, which prevented him from serving a popular mixed drink in its traditional sliced coconut. He was forced to improvise and poured the drink into a hollowed-out pineapple instead. Voila: pina colada!  
  • 1963 – Two miles west of the Caribe Hilton, Restaurant Barrachina claims their mixologist, Ramon Portas Mingot, created the pina colada in 1963. They even have a marble plaque outside of their entrance that says, “The house where, in 1963, the Pina Colada was created by Don Ramon Portas Mingot.” 
  • 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.
  • Explorer Christopher Columbus in 1493 found pineapples on Guadeloupe Island in the Caribbean. He called it piña de Indes, meaning “pine of the Indians”, and brought it back with him to Spain.
  • There are 50 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of fresh pineapple.
  • It has nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, including copper, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, vitamin C, thiamin, B6, beta-carotene, and folate as well as soluble and insoluble fiber and bromelain.
  • Pineapples were such a status symbol in 18th century England that you could rent one for the evening to take to a party.
  • When the modern day Pina Colada was created, it was actually a non-alcoholic drink.  The first (non-alcoholic) Pina Colada was served shaken over ice, instead of blended.

Sources:

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