Like many cocktails, there are several people who claimed to have been the inventor of the Pina Colada. While this favorite drink was born in Puerto Rick, the identity of the bartender who first mixed up this iconic rum-based drink remains a mystery. Here are the three most popular stories of how the Pina Colada was created.
Inventor #1 - Ramon "Monchito" Marrero
The Caribe Hilton, one of the premier luxury hotels in San Juan the capital of Puerto Rico, claims the pina colada was first served up in 1954 at its Beachcombers Bar by bartender Ramon "Monchito" Marrero. Hotel management asked Marrero to create a signature drink that captured the flavors of the island. He reportedly spent three months experimenting with hundreds of combinations before perfecting his sweet, frothy concoction of rum, cream of coconut and pineapple juice. According to the hotel, Marrero mixed up and served his creation at the Caribe Hilton for 35 years until his retirement in 1989.
Inventor #2 - Ricardo Gracia
However, another bartender who served up drinks at the Caribe Hilton has claimed that he invented to now famous cocktail. Spaniard Ricardo Gracia told Coastal Living magazine in 2005 that a strike by a coconut cutters union in 1954 prevented him from serving up the popular mixed drink of rum, cream of coconut and crushed ice in its traditional sliced coconut. He was forced to improvise and poured the drink into a hollowed out pineapple instead. This new drink quickly became popular, so he decided to add freshly pressed and strained pineapple juice to the rum and cream of coconut combination to create the pina colada, which means "strained pineapple" in Spanish.
Inventor #3 - Ramon Portas Mingot
Another San Juan hotspot claims it's the birthplace of the pina colada and is only two miles west of the Caribe Hilton in the capital's Old City. Restaurant Barrachina opened in the late 1950s and was famous for its paella. The owner, Pepe Barrachina, went on a trip South America and met Ramon Portas Mingot, who is a Spanish mixologist who wrote cocktail books and worked in the top bars of Buenos Aires. Barrachina convinced Mingot to leave Argentina and become the head bartender at his Puerto Rican restaurant. There is now a marble plaque outside the restaurant's entrance that claims Mingot concocted the first pina colada there in 1963.
It's Pirate Origins
Although, some tie the pina colada to the 19th century Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresi, who was said to have boosted the morale of his men by giving them a pick-me-up of white rum, pineapple juice and coconut milk. However, the modern-day beach cocktail couldn't have been possible until the 2954 invention of the key ingredient - Coco Lopez, a pre-made cream of coconut. Coco Lopez quickly became an essential part of the island's pina coladas. Ramon Lopez-Irizarry, a University of Puerto Rico agriculture professor, created it by blending cream from the hearts of Caribbean coconuts with natural cane sugar.
Visitors of Puerto Rico returned home raving about the delicious new rum drink, and soon the cocktail began to appear at bars far beyond the island shores. With the help of the electric blenders and tiki bar chains, the popularity of the pina colada quickly spread across the world during the 1970s.
Come enjoy this popular island drink right here at the Lake of the Ozarks at Backwater Jack's! Celebrate National Pina Colada Day with a refreshing pina colada or switch it up and mix in a Rum Runner to make our famous Pain in the A**. We can't wait to celebrate with you at Backwater Jack's!
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