Puerto Rico’s Official Drink The Piña Colada: The Debate
Easily recognized by its appearance, memorialized in songs and a long-standing favorite in Puerto Rico, the Piña Colada is a cocktail made of rum, coconut cream and fresh pineapple juice. Typically garnished with a maraschino cherry and wedge of pineapple, the drink has become synonymous with the island, but the origins of this famous cocktail have been debated since the early 1950’s.
While the actual history of the drink is a bit muddled with claims that the first Piña Colada was invented outside of Puerto Rico either in Cuba or Spain, the two histories that are given the most weight are those surrounding Ramón Portas Mingot at Barrachina and Ramon “Monchito” Marrero of the former Beachcomber Bar. According to Barrachina loyalists, the drink was invented in 1963 but the story believed to be more credible is that the original Piña Colada was the result of over three months of experimentation by Marrero, bartender of the then well-known Beachcomber Bar (now the Oasis bar) at the Caribe Hilton. As the story goes, the bartender was tasked with developing a drink to appease the bar’s high profile clientele. Coincidentally, in 1954, the popular ingredient Coco Lopez-Cream of Coconut was also invented. Marrero was also the bartender acknowledged on that day in 1978, when the government declared the Piña Colada the official drink of Puerto Rico and recognized Marrero for selling 3 million orders of the drink. The actual truth behind the origins of the drink may have been already lost to history, but that shouldn’t preclude avid researchers from hitting both Oasis and Barrachina in pursuit of the truth during their stay in San Juan.
Oasis at the Caribe Hilton, 1 San Geronimo Street, San Juan
Barrachina, 104 Fortaleza St, Old San Juan