Happy Hour Friday: Coladarama

Matt Helm, the movies
July 10, 2009
What is moderism?
July 11, 2009

Happy Hour Friday: Coladarama


The sun’s out, its almost quitting time, so let’s go back to Cuba for a visit with one of my favorite summertime indulgences, a Pina Colada.

Ok, ok, you’re all laughing now, I know it. There’s just so much to make fun of here. Yet another sickly sweet piece of crap rum drink that real coctailers wouldn’t be caught dead near.

Never fear fellow gastronauters, as I’ve written before, this is NOT your high school girlfriend’s “I’m so cool sitting here at TGI Fridays with my Pina Colada” cocktail, this is pretty close to the real deal. I say pretty close, because according to my research, and by research I mean talking to lots and lots of cocktail affectionados, the original Pina Colada did not contain what is now considered a main ingredient, coconut creme.

The literal meaning of Pina Colada is “strained pineapple”, with “colada” meaning “strained” in Spanish, rather than coconut, as many people might think, given that now the Pina Colada is associated more with coconut than pineapple.  The drink originated in Cuba in the early part of the 20th century. The original Pina Colada was just rum, pineapple juice, a bit of sugar, and ice. I wish I knew where the coconut came into play, but I’ve heard so many conflicting histories of this drink, I am even more befuddled than usual. I think coconut milk was likely introduced into the drink recipe in the late 1950’s, as an exotic creamy sweeter, to broaden the appeal of the drink and to capitalize on the new found interest in any and all things tropical. This trend began to develop shortly after World War II, as returning GI’s spoke of their adventures in the Pacific, and air travel became more frequent, affordable and accessible to people in America and Europe.

As I’m writing this post, it occurs to me that some fruit, hmmm…….pineapple perhaps? might be just the right nibble. Everybody’s grilling vegetables these days, but have you ever tried a piece of grilled fruit? Recently I was working at Rustic Food in the prep kitchen and grilled a pineapple. Honestly, I am not a big fan of the fruit, I could take it or leave it. This is different. Sweet, tangy, a little crunchy, soft and juicy in the middle. Lovely to look at, interesting combinations of flavors, and an appealing texture. I am now a grilled pineapple fan.

If you are not familiar with grilling fruit, you just need to keep a few things in mind. First, as with grilled vegetables, the more firm the fruit, the easier it is to grill without ending up with a mushy puddle of yuk.

For pineapple, choose a ripe, but  not mushy fruit. Slice off the top, but leave the grilledpinapplerind on. Slice the pineapple into thick slices, about 1/2” or so. Brush the slices with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt, a dash of sugar, and if you’d like, a bit of cinnamon. Over a low flame, grill the pineapple slices until they are golden brown, and just begin to shrivel. Let the slices cool for a minute or two and cut into wedges before serving. It may be tempting, after you’ve tried the grilled pineapple, to venture on to other fruits. Please do, just stay away from watermelon – see mushy pile of yuk, above.

Now, let’s get on to our drink recipe.

This is also very nice without the rum, I might increase the pineapple juice if eliminating the rum makes the drink seem too sweet.

pina-coladaPINA COLADA

4 parts light rum (2 oz.)
2 parts dark rum (1 oz.)
6 parts pineapple juice (3 oz.)
4 parts coconut creme (2 oz.)

Combine all ingredients with cracked ice in a blender. Blend until smooth and pour into a chilled collins or silly drink glass. The traditional garnish is a pineapple spear, but after working behind the bar in too many chain restaurants, I just have to have that umbrella anchored in a pineapple raft with a maraschino cherry navigator. I can’t help myself –  Damn the 80’s!.



  1. gayle says:

    why do i not live next door to you? … wait,wait wait … why don’t YOU live next door to ME??