Cacao-infused rum, Thai chili cinnamon honey and cashew orgeat are just a few of the ways bartenders are updating the classic pineapple and coconut poolside potable.
Rupert Holmes didn’t have anything to do with the drink’s invention, but the lyric in his guilty pleasure dating ad-inspired song “Escape” has had us all singing “if you like Piña Coladas…” ever since. And why not? The arrival of a luscious, frozen, umbrella-adorned tipple is bound to induce summertime happiness. Piña Colada Day is July 10 so here are five excuses to bust out the coconut shells.
Recipe courtesy of Fairweather, San Diego, CA. Photo by Lyudmila Zotova.
If the Dirty Monkey and a Piña Colada had a love child, it would be this frosty treat. “The Monkey’s Junk draws inspiration from a classic Piña Colada, combining cacao-infused rum, coconut, pineapple, and bananas to create a lighthearted tropical dessert,” says Anthony Schmidt, beverage director for CH Projects.
- 1 ½ oz. cacao nib-infused rum (see note)
- 1 ½ oz. coconut syrup
- 1 ½ oz. ripe pineapple juice
- 1 overripe banana
- Grated nutmeg and cinnamon, for garnish
Combine all ingredients except garnish in a conventional blender, and blend until the consistency of a smoothie. Pour it into a large glass and garnish with grated nutmeg and cinnamon.
For the cacao nib-infused aged rum:
Pour a 750ml bottle of Angostura 7 Year Old Rum into a sealable container. Add 4 oz. good quality cacao nibs. Store for two weeks, agitating periodically, and then strain out the solids.
Frappe Hour Piña Colada
Recipe courtesy of Adam Bernbach, 2 Birds 1 Stone, Washington, D.C. Photo by Alison Kirby.
Bar manager Adam Bernbach infuses rum with mace and cinnamon for the bold flavor necessary to stand up to all the ice, and he suggests a heavy hand with the sugar when it comes to frozen concoctions. “Sugar is a conductor of flavor, and it also adds body to a drink, much like it does to a dessert,” he notes. “You just need to keep it in proportion so that it doesn’t overwhelm the drink...which is why the lime juice is a key ingredient.”
- 4 oz. El Dorado 5 Year Old Rum
- 2 ½ oz. pineapple juice
- 2 ½ oz. sugar
- 2 oz. coconut milk
- ¾ oz. lime juice
- ½ cinnamon stick
- ¼ tsp. mace
- Pineapple cube and grated nutmeg, for garnish
Add cinnamon and mace to the rum, let sit overnight, and strain. Add the other ingredients together (except garnish) with 20 ounces of ice, and blend. Pour into 2 glasses, and garnish with a pineapple cube and freshly grated nutmeg.
Vida de Playa
Recipe courtesy of BOA Steakhouse, Los Angeles, CA
“We wanted to take the classic drink and modernize it with fresh ingredients, natural purees, and fresh homemade sour,” says head bartender Josh Renfree about this Pisco Sour / Piña Colada variant. Be sure to use homemade sour mix rather than a commercial version; a good ratio is 1 cup each of sugar and water, simmered to dissolve and cooled, and added to 1 cup lemon juice and ½ cup lime juice.
- 1 ½ oz. Pisco La Caraveda
- ¾ oz. coconut puree
- ¾ oz. mango puree
- 1 oz. sour mix
- Dash of bitters
- Coconut shavings, for garnish
Add all ingredients except garnish to a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice, and garnish with coconut shavings.
Recipe courtesy of Jack Rose Dining Saloon, Washington, D.C.
Bartender Denise Jauregui, who crafts the Tiki cocktails at Jack Rose, adds a housemade coconut cream that’s reminiscent of an Almond Joy bar, and the sweet heat of Thai chili cinnamon honey, to the traditional recipe “I think one of the most important aspects of great Tiki cocktails, aside from fresh juices, is creating your own unique syrups,” she says, adding that what makes the Piña Colada great is its balance between booze, citrus and sweet.
- 1 ½ oz. Hamilton 86 Demerara Rum
- 1 oz. almond coco cream (see note)
- ½ oz. Thai chili cinnamon honey (see note)
- ½ oz. pineapple juice
- ¼ oz. Ancho Reyes Liqueur
- Pineapple slice and umbrella, for garnish
Add all ingredients except garnish to a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake until well chilled. Double strain into a coconut shell over crushed ice, and garnish with the pineapple slice and umbrella.
For the almond coco cream:
Blend together 1 can Coco Lopez, 8 oz. coconut water and 2 tbsp. almond butter.
For the Thai chili cinnamon honey:
Bring 3 cups water, 5 Thai chili peppers and 4 cinnamon sticks to a boil. Let the mixture simmer, strain out solids, add honey, and stir to combine.
Recipe courtesy of Jessica Lambert, Sable Kitchen & Bar, Chicago, IL
Whiskey in a Piña Colada? But of course! The inclusion of spiced coconut milk plays nicely off the Buffalo Trace, and cashews are an interesting swap-in for almonds in the orgeat. “This is a spiced take on a classic Piña Colada, with bourbon as the base,and a savory note of cashew to complement the spice,” says bartender Jess Lambert.
- 2 oz. Buffalo Trace Bourbon
- 1 oz. fresh pineapple juice
- 1 oz. spiced coconut milk (see note)
- ½ oz. housemade cashew orgeat (see note)
- Pineapple leaf and nutmeg, for garnish
Add the first four ingredients to a cocktail shaker and dry shake. Pour it into a bubble glass over crushed ice, and garnish with the pineapple leaf and nutmeg.
For the spiced coconut milk:
Combine 2 cans coconut milk, ½ can water, ½ tsp. ground allspice, ¼ tsp. ground coriander, ½ tsp. dark chili powder, ½ grated nutmeg pod, pinch cayenne and pinch citric acid. Stir well and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
For the cashew orgeat:
Process 2 cups unsalted cashews in a food processor until still chunky, then toast lightly in a sauté pan. Add 2 quarts sugar, 2 quarts water, the peels of 2 oranges, a pinch of salt and 1 dropper full of orange flower water. Bring to a light boil, remove from heat, and let rest overnight. Strain out solids before using.