Well, it will be next Tuesday, July 10th. Seriously it is. I’m not making it up. In fact, I’m not sure who made it up. Not even sure how I first heard about it. There are many skills to being a Rumologist-keeping an accurate filing system is not one of them. But it’s there and it’s happening and you should be a part of it. Because if there’s a holy trinity of rum drinks, then the Piña Colada goes right there next to the Mai Tai and the Daiquiri.
Most people’s experience with a Piña Colada consists of a blender, some rum, pineapple juice and Coco Lopez. This is one of the few drinks where an artificial ingredient is better than a fresh one, not because it’s better than fresh coconut, but because it’s a pain to separate the cream from the pulp on your own. Truth is this is the drink. Or is it?
The story goes that a bartender in Puerto Rico, Ramon Marerro working at the Caribe Hilton Beachcomber Bar in San Juan, took 3 months to create the drink. He was looking for something that captured the flavors of Puerto Rico to serve to his guests, and on August 15th, 1954-the same year Coco Lopez was invented-the drink debuted. In 1978 he was awarded recognition for selling the three millionth Piña Colada the same day the government named it the national drink of Puerto Rico. That’s the accepted story. The other ones?
Same year, a bartender working at the same bar served the popular Coco-Loco, a drink of rum, coconut milk and coconut cream in a coconut-in a pineapple because of a strike by the coconut cutter’s union. 1963, a bartender working at another bar in Puerto Rico combined pineapple, coconut cream, condensed cream and ice in a blender and called it a Piña Colada. (Truth be told, Don Marerro’s drink was probably not frozen, but I don’t think it would have taken people 9 years to say “Hey, I bet this would taste great frozen.”) Going the other way, legend says Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresi served his crew a rum, pineapple and coconut creation-in the early 1800’s. Finally, there is an article in Travel magazine December 1922 about a drink called the Piña Colada-pineapple juice shaken with ice, sugar, lime and rum.
Moral of the story is a lady doesn’t like to give her age. But no matter if you like yours frozen or on the rocks, with or without coconut, or drinking it while getting caught in the rain as you’re making love at midnight in the dunes of the Cape, join me with one as we make National Piña Colada Day part of One Long Weekend.