How to Make a Piña Colada at Home, According to the Hotel Bar That Invented It
It’s hot out here, y’all. And there’s no cure for summer heat like a frosty, creamy piña colada. One sip of the fruity resort staple and bam, we’re waist-deep in the ocean surrounded by palm trees and island breeze. Because we could *all* use a vacation right now, we asked the experts at Caribe Hilton, the Puerto Rican resort that invented the drink, how to whip up some cocktail magic in your own kitchen. Here’s how to make a piña colada at home, tiny umbrella and all.
How the Piña Colada Was Invented
Caribe Hilton opened in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1949 as Hilton’s first property outside the continental U.S. Five years later, Ramón “Monchito” Marrero changed the cocktail world forever. He wanted to create a refreshing drink to welcome guests that represented the island. And so, the first piña colada was born—well, the virgin kind anyway. The first piña coladas were actually non-alcoholic and served on the rocks. Years later, Monchito added local rum to his drink and took his concoction for a whirl in the blender, leading to an international heyday for blended drinks like margaritas and daiquiris that lasted through the ’70s.
Over time, Caribe Hilton quickly became a major hot spot for tourists and celebrities alike (as it still is today), having hosted everyone from Liz Taylor to Sophia Loren to Barack Obama. Julio Iglesias, Gloria Estefan and Iris Chacón all performed there long before they were famous. And with all that buzz around the resort, Monchito’s invention transformed from a welcome sipper for hotel guests to arguably the most quintessential vacation libation ever.
His legacy—and the drink’s—were solidified in 1978, when Puerto Rico declared the piña colada its official national drink. In 2004, the government presented Caribe Hilton with an official proclamation acknowledging the drink’s 50th anniversary and its ever-growing mark on the cocktail world. It endured through so many bar trends and continues to thrive today, even the era of Fuzzy Navels and Long Island Iced Teas. (Yeah…those days are pretty blurry for us too.)
Now, resort guests can make an appointment for a piña colada-themed spa treatment or take a mixology lesson at the very bar where the drink was invented. They can also go piña colada-loco at the bar with twists on the classic, including a Piña Old Fashioned, Sparkling Colada and Piña Painkiller. But to be honest, we’d give juuuust about anything to plop ourselves at the swim-up bar and order the original right this minute.
How to Make a Piña Colada at Home
There are a variety of ways to go from zero to cocktail: Using coconut rum, swapping in light coconut milk, hand-shaking and serving over ice instead of blending. But Caribe Hilton bartender Héctor Santos López never messes with the O.G. “The gold rum and cream are sweet like sugar when combined, but the pineapple is what brings it all together,” López says. “The key is to serve it ice-cold. The original is my favorite—it’s what everyone always asks for.”
- 2 ounces light rum (Caribe Hilton uses Bacardi)
- 1 ounce coconut cream (Caribe Hilton uses Coco Lopez)
- 1 ounce heavy cream
- 6 ounces pineapple juice
- ½ cup crushed ice
Step 1: Combine rum, coconut cream, heavy cream and pineapple juice in a blender.
Step 2: Add crushed ice and blend for 15 seconds.
Step 3: Serve in a 12-ounce glass and garnish with a fresh pineapple wedge and a cherry.