I like more pineapple than coconut in my piña colada, so I thought I'd add some fresh pineapple as well as pineapple juice for a piña colada recipe that’s just right for me. There’s every reason to make a piña colada from scratch rather than rely on pre-made mixes sold at supermarkets and liquor stores. Artificial coconut and pineapple flavorings are syrupy-sweet and a far cry from their fresh or canned counterparts, and cocktails made with them are no substitute for the real deal.
A sturdy blender is a must for this drink, as your tropical relaxation experience just won’t be the same with bigger chunks of ice interfering with its velvety-smooth consistency (and we can’t have that). Your favorite rum, whether it’s dark, gold, light, flavored, or a combination, will work perfectly well. Mixology enthusiasts will convince you that one option is superior to another, or shun deviations from the original piña colada developed in Puerto Rico in 1954, which calls for white rum. Pay no heed: Whichever rum you choose will contribute welcome flavor notes for a more satisfying sip.
After a few experiments, I found that a combination of coconut milk and cream of coconut produced the right blend of sweetness and creaminess. A spritz of lime juice and a grating of fresh nutmeg were later additions.
If you need a piña colada right now but don’t have cream of coconut—which really does contribute to a wonderful thick consistency and pronounced coconut flavor—you can use sweetened condensed milk with a few drops of coconut extract to taste. Another option is simmering whole milk or cream with fresh or dried grated coconut for a few minutes, then cooling to room temperature and straining through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. A final option, of course, is simply a generous pour of coconut rum. These substitutes will produce results with varying levels of sweetness, so be sure to taste and adjust as necessary.
- Prep time 5 minutes
- Makes 4 cocktails
cup fresh pineapple chunks
cream of coconut
pineapple juice, fresh or canned
juice of 1/2 lime, plus lime wedges to garnish
pinch freshly grated nutmeg, plus more to garnish
- Combine all the ingredients in a blender (use a good, strong one that can crush ice) and blend until smooth.
- Add more ice or liquid until you reach the desired consistency.
- Pour into glasses, and garnish with a light shower of grated nutmeg, lime wedges, and maybe even cocktail umbrellas.