Monday, April 26, 2010

Piña Colada, or Problems of Crushed Ice in Tropical Alcohol Suspension

A ceramic coconut mug is a magical thing to drink from. It feels good in your hand. With a coconut mug, you feel in command—of what, it's not clear, but you feel it just the same. I am the happy possessor of two old coconut mugs, and always on the lookout for the perfect recipe to fill them—the kind of potion that sends you out over a tropical sea under a coconut moon. The kind of drink that may cause you to wake up Monday morning naked in an alley in Reno or possibly Atlantic City, except that you’re already comfy at home with your own regal coconut mug and who feels like going out anyway.

So this brings me to a problem I’ve tried to work out off and on over the years: what’s up with all the watery, generally crummy Piña Coladas? I’ve played with the rums, tried making the recipe more complex, tried using something other than that can of Lopez that’s still sitting in the cupboard. Nothing seemed to create the innocent wonder of the primal Piña Colada.

So I figured I’d turn to an experienced barman, and looked for a recipe in Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology. There was a frozen and a rocks version. I’d do both.

Frozen Piña Colada, The Joy of Mixology
  • 2 oz dark rum
  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 oz coconut cream
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • 1 pineapple cube
Blend with enough ice to almost fill a 12-oz collins glass. Add garnishes.

Source: Gary Regan, The Joy of Mixology

I decided on gold rum because that’s what I remember from the old days, but picked a nicely rounded one, 10 Cane. For the coconut cream, I sweetened some organic coconut milk with vanilla syrup, 2:1. (I could drink that neat.) When I added enough crushed ice to almost fill a 12-oz glass, the texture was pleasantly slushy but the flavor was dilute. And it didn’t fill up enough of the 16-oz coconut mug.

The basic recipe was good, but too much water was being released from the blended ice. (Stupid boat drinks, mutter, mutter.) I made the rocks version, which uses the same proportions, and my housemate agreed that it was balanced and nicely boozy.

So it was clear that there would have to be some compromise between slushiness and depth of flavor. The result would be more potent all around, and icy, but more creamy than snowy.

Frozen Piña Colada, Fogged In Lounge
  • 3 oz gold rum (10 Cane)
  • 3 oz pineapple juice
  • 2 1/4 oz coconut cream
Blend with about 6 oz crushed ice about 30 seconds on high. Pour into a ceramic coconut mug. Garnish with cherry and pineapple stick.

Source: Rowen, Fogged In Lounge

Question from the Befogged: Is the Piña Colada tiki?


  1. I think it depends on the glassware, it is when it's in a coconut mug.

  2. I love that you're posting about pina coladas, but I think your rum choice is a bit off, if you'd let me be so bold. 10 Cane is grassy, caney, and sharp, and I think the spirit of the recipe is to use something pungent, smooth, and powerful, like a Gosling's, Myers, any Appleton gold, or Bacardi 8.

  3. Well, I wouldn’t insist on 10 Cane, but I gotta say we loved it. Felt a bit guilty not using Puerto Rican rum though. It’s the Puerto Rican drink, after all.

  4. I like the point about the glass or mug: tiki can be context.


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