Hello June! We admit that we may be a little early, but we couldn’t resist sharing with you this recipe for a summer cocktail classic from The Curious Bartender’s new book, Rum Revolution…
If it were possible to bottle the concentrated flavour of a holiday by the beach, it would probably taste something like a Piña Colada. Little wonder that sunscreen manufacturers borrow the classic combination of pineapple and coconut to aromatize their products. Hell, the Piña Colada even looks like a holiday, and a lazy one at that – quietly content as it wallows in its cool and gloopy state, all ludicrous in its bulging proportions and ostentatious garnishing. If Piña Colada were a vehicle, it would be a carnival float. If it were a person, it would lounge by the pool in a skin-tight, leopard-print swimming thong to match its day-glow tan and moustache. There are only two types of people in the world: those who love a Piña Colada, and those who don’t admit to loving them.
The good news is that it’s laughably easy to make, and requires only three ingredients (rum, coconut milk and pineapple juice), along with ice and a blender. Of course, if you have access to a “slushy” machine, all the better. That’s how they make them these days at Barrachina, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where the drink was purportedly invented. Hordes of tourists rock up to this joint every day, and the staff rapidly churn out the cocktail at the peculiarly exacting price of $7.81 (£6.30) a piece. The drink’s inventor – Ramón Portas Mingot – created it at Barrachina in 1963, although that recipe also included condensed milk. Like most drinks, the claim is contested, by another Ramón as it happens: Ramón Marrero. He was allegedly working at San Juan’s Caribe Hilton in 1954 when he created the drink. One thing that both gentlemen can agree on is that the inventor was called Ramón.
The creation of the drink was only made possible thanks to the arrival of the Coco López brand of coconut cream, launched in Puerto Rico in 1948. The Piña Colada is now the national drink of Puerto Rico and is celebrated on National Piña Colada day, on July 10. The classic Piña Colada formula calls for light rum, pineapple juice and cream of coconut. It’s too sweet and too light on the rum to my tastes, so I suggest using a combination of light and dark rums, and cutting back on the pineapple slightly.
For bonus points, you can “pimp your piña” by popping the sealed can of coconut milk in a pressure cooker set to maximum temperature for an hour or so. This kickstarts Maillard (browning) reactions, as the sugars and enzymes go to work on each other, which results in a toasted, biscuity, almost buttery, coconut milk that makes the normal stuff seem bland. Don’t skimp on the pineapple juice, make sure you buy the best stuff you can find and sweeten according to your taste, which for me means barely sweetening at all.
25 ml/1 fl . oz. Don Q Cristal White
25 ml/1 fl . oz. Bacardi 8-year-old
50 ml/1.⁄ 2/3 fl . oz. Pressure-cooked coconut milk (can be substituted for the regular stuff)
60 ml/2 fl . oz. pressed pineapple juice
10 ml/2 teaspoons lime juice
0.5 g/pinch of salt
Add all the ingredients to a blender along with 100 g/3 ½ oz. of ice (per serving). Blitz it for a good 30 seconds, or until it’s silky smooth and lump-free. Serve immediately in a hurricane glass (you know the one, it’s like an elongated wine glass with a short stem).
This extract and recipe is from The Curious Bartender's Rum Revolution by Tristan Stephenson.
Photography by Addie Chinn ©Ryland Peters & Small