The Pina Colada is the premier cocktail of Puerto Rico. It evokes fond memories of a trip Ms. Cocktail Den and I took to this American island for a Tales on Tour conference. Meaning "strained pineapple," the modern Pina Colada came about in San Juan either in the early 1950s or early 1960s. Regardless of who created the Pina Colada and when they created it, like the Margarita or the Daiquiri, it is a wonderful and simple drink that's easy to make.
1.25 ounces light rum (I prefer Don Q Cristal)
1.25 ounces fresh pineapple juice
1 ounce cream of coconut
Combine in a shaker or blender with ice, shake or blend with the energy of the La Placita area in San Juan (when we were there, the place was rockin' on a Sunday night), and strain into a chilled glass. Pineapple wedge garnish optional.
Use Puerto Rican rum if you can. Bacardi is the most famous. Don Q's profile is increasing, and my informal survey indicated it is the rum most Puerto Ricans prefer. For the pineapple juice, fresh is key. Cream of coconut, which is not hard to find, is not the same as coconut milk. Although both come from shredded coconut, cream of coconut has less water and is sweeter. If you have to use coconut milk, make sure it is sweetened. Some variations of the Pina Colada add lime juice into the mix. This makes the cocktail vaguely reminiscent of a Cuban drink with the same name in the 1920s. However, that Pina Colada didn't contain coconut, so it essentially was a pineapple Daiquiri.
Like the resurgence of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, I like to think the Pina Colada is making a comeback. Pina Colada se levanta.