Cocktail of the month
There are many variations on the seemingly generic beach cocktail, one that really isn’t so generic after all. Roy’s has a lighter take on it called a piña fresca made with Malibu coconut rum and Absolut mango vodka mixed with orange, pineapple and coconut juices that’s not as creamy. To keep it traditional, here is the recipe as Ramon “Monchito” Marrero of the Caribe Hilton created it in 1954 according to the Puerto Rico Herald:
2 oz light rum
1 oz coconut cream
1 oz whipping cream
¾ cup pineapple juice
½ cup coarsely crushed ice
■ Pour rum, coconut cream, whipping cream, pineapple juice and ice in blender. Process on high speed. Serve in desired 12-oz glass. Garnish with pineapple wedge and maraschino cherry.
Beach cookouts, backyard bonfires and piña coladas epitomize summer. The frothy, sweet combination of coconut, pineapple and rum compliments sand-covered toes and sunset skies. With the last sips of summer going down this month, make some of those sips the quintessential vacation cocktail.
One of the most widely known and loved tropical drinks in the Western hemisphere, the piña colada is also the official beverage of Puerto Rico, where it was first concocted in San Juan. The exact details of its creation are blended in various theories, garnished with a little folklore.
The most accepted theory dates back to August 1954 when a bartender named Roman “Monchito” Marrero introduced the piña colada at the Caribe Hilton’s Beachcomber Bar in San Juan. Hollywood stars frequented the famous hotel and management requested that Marrero create a new signature drink to serve guests upon their arrival. After three months of experimentation, the creamy cocktail as we know it today was born.
Another San Juan restaurant, Barrachina, also claims to be the birthplace of the piña colada. In 1963, Spanish bartender Don Ramon Portas Mingot, who carried an impressive restaurant resume, became the head bartender at Barrachina. Mingot experimented with pineapple juice, coconut cream, condensed milk and ice in a blender, and the piña colada was created. Again.
In the 1800s, way before Marrero or Mingot took credit for the piña colada, however, a Puerto Rican pirate named Roberto Cofresí mixed a concoction of pineapple, coconut and white rum to boost his crew’s morale at sea. Unfortunately, when Cofresí died in 1825 so did his recipe.
Maybe all San Juan bartenders and pirates deserve a little credit for piña coladas. They all seemed to use the same ingredients. Ingredients that, today, transfer us to a summer state of mind. Variations exist with the proportions, but the emphasis remains on the pineapple. After all, the Spanish name piña colada translates literally to strained pineapple.
If you like piña coladas, you’re in luck in Southwest Florida, even if you’re not into yoga or even have half a brain. (Thank you, Rupert Holmes, for your one hit wonder “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”.) Marco Island and Naples have piña colada destinations worthy of San Juan and vacation acclaim.
Quinn’s on the Beach restaurant at the Marco Island Marriott serves a plaque-worthy piña colada. They mix a large batch of Dole pineapple juice and Coco Lopez cream of coconut with a dark and dry Caribbean style rum called Ron Carlos. Order it with a Meyers dark rum, Kahlua, Midori or Bacardi 151 floater and keep them coming until the sun sets.
Snook Inn waterside restaurant on Bald Eagle Drive also serves you up vacation-style right on the Marco River. Smooth and creamy with the right amount of coconut flavor, the only thing that makes a piña colada in one hand there better is a piña colada in the other.
Piña colada drinking destinations seem to have one thing in common: a water view. Take a seat at the Sand Bar or Gumbo Limbo restaurant right on the beach at the Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort, and they’ll serve you probably the best looking and quite possibly best tasting piña colada made with Flor de Cana light white rum.
For a unique experience, try Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion restaurant at Bayfront. The drunken pineapple colada redefines the average piña colada. It starts with chopped pineapple that has been soaking in Malibu coconut rum, Skyy vodka and Stoli vanil vodka for 10 days. Blend that with coconut puree, and the summer bells will ring.
Where to go
■ Quinn’s on the Beach at Marco Island Marriott, 400 South Collier Blvd., Marco Island (239) 394-2511
■ Snook Inn, 1215 Bald Eagle Drive, Marco Island, (239) 394-3313
■ Sand Bar or Gumbo Limbo restaurant at the Ritz Carlton, Naples, 280 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, (239) 598-3300
■ Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion, 475 Bayfront Place, Naples, (239) 261-1416