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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Who invented the Piña Colada?

An e-mail crossed my virtual desk (actually, the virtual desk of former editor Brooke Smith) from a publicist for the Caribe Hilton, bearing what was touted as the recipe for “the original Piña Colada.”

This touched off a distant memory of my first (and only) trip to Puerto Rico. As my bus rolled through San Juan, I spotted a plaque on a wall declaring the building to be the birthplace of the Piña Colada. It was the kind of plaque you could spot from the street—as big as a window.

I no longer remembered exactly where that was, but a little Googling revealed it to be, not the Hilton, but a restaurant in downtown San Juan called La Barrachina. More Googling, and I learned that the Caribe Hilton and La Barrachina have been locked for decades in a rum war over who truly originated the popular drink. According to Team Hilton, their bartender, Ramón “Monchito” Marrero, invented it in 1954; the plaque at La Barrachina claims it to be “The house where in 1963 the Piña Colada was created by Don-Ramon Portas Mingot.”

For an excellent explanation of the controversy, see this post on “Wanderlust and Lipstick,” a travel blog by Lanee Lee. Lanee’s post includes the dueling recipes; the Hilton one almost exactly matches the recipe in my e-mail.

I have to say, they both sound good, but since the Hilton one uses heavy cream and fresh pineapple, it might have an advantage (for the tastebuds, if not the arteries). Judge for yourself—here it is:

The Original Piña Colada: 


2 oz. white rum
1 oz. coconut cream             
1 oz. heavy cream
6 oz. fresh pineapple juice
½ cup crushed ice

Add the rum, coconut cream, heavy cream and pineapple juice together in a blender. Add the ice and blend for about 15 seconds or until smooth. Serve in a 12-ounce glass. Garnish with a fresh pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry.