Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Cocktails (Pina Colada)

The piña colada (Spanish, strained pineapple: piña, pineapple + colada, strained) is a sweet, rum-based cocktail made with hard rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice, usually served either blended or shaken with ice. It may be garnished with a pineapple wedge or a maraschino cherry. The piña colada has been the official beverage of Peurto Rico since 1978.
The Piña Colada was introduced on August 16, 1954 at the Caribe Hilton's Beachcomber Bar in San Juan, Puerto Rico by its alleged creator, Ramon “Monchito” Marrero. Apparently, the hotel management had expressly requested Monchito to mix a new signature drink that would delight the demanding palates of its star studded clientele. Monchito accepted the challenge, and after 3 intense months of blending, shaking and experimenting, the first Piña Colada was born. This story is more credible because the Piña Colada contains cream of coconut as one of the primary ingredients, and the cream of coconut "Coco López" (which is the pioneer) was invented in 1954 in the University of Puerto Rico by Ramón López Irizarry.
Other Stories
The earliest known story states that in the 1800s, Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresi (a.k.a. "El Pirata Cofresí"), to boost his crew's morale he gave them a beverage or cocktail that contained coconut, pineapple and white rum. This was what would be later known as the famous piña colada. With his death in 1825, the recipe for the piña colada was lost.
Barrachina, a restaurant in Puerto Rico, also claims to be the birth place of the piña colada:
In 1963, on a trip to South America Mr Barrachina met another popular Spaniard and bartender Mr. Ramon Portas Mingot. Don Ramon has worked with the best places in Buenos Aires and associated with 'Papillon' the most luxurious bar in Carcao and was also recognized for his cocktail recipe books. Pepe Barrachina and Don Ramon developed a great relationship. While working as the main bartender at Barrachina (a restaurant in Puerto Rico), Ramon mixed pineapple juice, coconut cream, condensed milk and ice in a blender, creating a delicious and refreshing drink, known today as the Piña Colada.
The earliest reference in the New York Times to a drink called a piña colada containing rum, coconut cream and pineapple juice, occurred in the April 16, 1950, edition of the New York Times: Drinks in the West Indies range from Martinique's famous rum punch to Cuba's pina colada (dark rum, pineapple chunks and coconut milk). Key West has a variety of lime swizzles and punches, and Grenadians use nutmeg in their rum drinks.
The earliest known reference to a drink specifically called a piña colada is from TRAVEL magazine, December 1922: But best of all is a piña colada, the juice of a perfectly ripe pineapple—a delicious drink in itself—rapidly shaken up with ice, sugar, lime and Bacardi rum in delicate proportions. What could be more luscious, more mellow and more fragrant?
The above quote describes a drink without coconut, as the piña colada was originally just the juice of a fresh pineapple served either strained (colada) or unstrained (sin colar). This evolved into a rum drink, and finally it changed into the drink we know today.
Barcelona-born and Hilton employee, Ricardo Gracia, who claims to have invented the contended drink in 1954 under a series of fortuitous circumstances. Rumor has it that while Gracia worked at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan de Puerto Rico, the coconut cutters’ union decided to strike. Until that moment, the Puerto Rican drink of choice had been the popular Coco-Loco, a mix of coconut milk, rum and coconut cream served inside a fresh macheted coconut. When the coconut supply was halted by the strike, resourceful Ricardo Gracia made the executive decision to relocate the ingredients of the Coco-Loco inside hollowed out pineapples(evidently the pineapple cutters’ union had not followed suit with a strike of their own). Once the coconut flavor and rum came into contact with the sweet acidity of the pineapple pulp, the Piña Colada was inevitably born.