A few years ago, when I wrote an article for Mixologist about the piña colada I focused heavily on the mid-1950s when it was effectively born from obscurity to international recognition. I let the old barmen tell their stories in their own words. It was their drink. It was their claim to immortality.
But there was much more to the story. There was much more before the story. The drink had been around for a long time in one form or another for over a century. Or two. Pineapples and rum? The combination was all the rage in London and in France at the turn of the 19th century. It was noted that Caribbean sugar plantation owners found the combination smoothed the rough edges of their aguardiente.
I still stand by that Mixologist article. The piña colada as we know it came from those San Juan barmen. They ended the confusion as to how you make a piña colada by bashing out thousands and thousands for celebrities, holiday-makers, and other key influencers. Was there an earlier recipe? Or two? Or three? Yes. And all of them were different.
To read our full ramble on the subject in German in the current issue of Mixology, that ever-elegant drinks industry magazine from Berlin. Or you can click over to the Musings page here on Martini Place to read the English version.