One year ago – which actually feels more like ten years ago – my wife and I went on a fabulous cruise out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. We began our trip with one night at the Caribe Hilton before our cruise even started. (We like to fly in a day early for cruises so that flight delays and cancellations the day of won’t ruin our trip!)
It is said that the Piña Colada was actually invented at Caribe Hilton in 1954 by bartender Ramon “Monchito” Marrero. So you better believe I drank my weight in those while we were there. And because I have been longing to get back to that fabulous property, I ordered up quite a few Piña Colada’s on a recent trip to Sanibel and Captiva Islands.
We are all just starting to travel again. So in the name of getting back in the mood for travel, I thought I would reach out to Letty Rivero, the Director of Sales and Marketing at Caribe Hilton, to find out a little more about this magical little drink and what it is that makes it so inviting.
AFM: Why is the Piña Colada so beloved?
Rivero: Over the years, the Piña Colada has become one of the most popular vacation cocktails and symbolizes easier times, an escape, relaxation and tons of sunshine. Plus, who doesn’t love a refreshing mix of pineapple juice, rum and coconut cream?
AFM: What is the history/story behind the Piña Colada?
Rivero: In 1954, Caribe bartender Ramón “Monchito” Marrero created the Piña Colada while attempting to come up with a fun, refreshing, welcome drink for guests. The first Piña Coladas were non-alcoholic and made in a shaker because blenders didn’t yet exist. It wasn’t until years later that Monchito added local rum to his concoction and pioneered the region’s tropical cocktail movement with what’s known as the world’s most popular vacation libation.
After serving the Piña Colada for 35 years, in 1978, Monchito’s signature beverage was declared the official drink of Puerto Rico. In 2004, Caribe Hilton was even presented with an official government proclamation in support of the cocktail’s 50th anniversary.
AFM: Why is now a great time to be whipping up a batch at home?
Rivero: We know that some people are still hesitant to travel so making a batch at home is the perfect way to let a little Puerto Rican sunshine into your house and get a taste of the island from the comfort of your kitchen.
AFM: What is your favorite Pina Colada memory that has to do with the Caribe Hilton?
Rivero: I have very fond memories of sharing a Piña Colada with my family, friends, and colleagues. What I truly enjoy is watching how each bartender from the many on-site restaurants and bars put their own spin on the classic cocktail by adapting new tricks and techniques.
The property graciously shared their famous recipe so you can even try it at home!
Caribe Hilton Piña Colada
2 oz Light rum (The resort uses Bacardi.)
1 oz Coconut cream (The signature recipe uses Coco Lopez brand.)
1 oz Heavy cream
6 oz Pineapple juice
½ cup Crushed ice
Mix rum, cream of coconut, heavy cream and pineapple juice in a blender. Add ice and mix for 15 seconds. Serve in a 12 oz glass and garnish with fresh pineapple and a cherry.