If You Like Piña Coladas

Catherine A. Jones
 | July 10, 2024

If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain, then you’re in luck. It’s National Piña Colada day! And this year marks the drink’s 70th anniversary. So, go ahead. Escape work early to celebrate the creation of the frosty and creamy “strained pineapple” cocktail which exudes summertime bliss. 

If You Like Piña Coladas

The legend of the piña colada goes back to the 1800s, when a pirate named Roberto Cofresi is said to have served a coconut water, pineapple juice, and rum drink to his crew. But the piña colada as we know is believed to have been invented in Puerto Rico in the 1950s. While its history is contested, the most popular account credits its creation to Ramón “Monchito” Marrero. 

“Ramon “Monchito” Marrero, who was the Caribe Hilton’s bartender, is often credited with being the inventor of the piña colada, although several other bartenders in the San Juan area have also said it was their idea,” CNN Travel reports.

In 1954, Monchito mixed this tropical elixir at the Caribe Hilton’s Beachcomber Bar in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The hotel had challenged him to concoct a signature drink that embodied the flavors of the island. And the piña colada was born.

“At the beginning it was only the mix of coconut cream and pineapple juice,” Caribe Hilton’s General Manager Pablo Torres told CNN Travel. “He didn’t have rum, and it was called a refresher. Back then there were no blenders , so he would prepare the piña colada in a shaker, and then when the blenders came we started adding rum and crushed ice and it became very popular.”

The National Drink of Puerto Rico

In 1978, the piña colada was declared as the national drink of Puerto Rico. And of course it would be great to head to its birthplace to truly experience the piña colada, at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan. This year they’re giving out complimentary piña coladas, hosting a Bartender Competition, and offering Piña Colada Tastings. But if you’re not in Puerto Rico, fear not. The resort even features Monchito’s original recipe on their website.

Plus, thousands of beach bars, resorts, and tiki-themed spots around the world serve this iconic drink. And, who can forget its claim to fame in pop culture with the song “Escape,” aka “The Pina Colada Song”? If you like piña coladas, read on.

The Piña Colada Song

Perhaps the most famous reference to piña coladas came in 1979.

“Escape (The Piña Colada Song),” written and recorded by British-American singer-songwriter Rupert Holmes, quickly gained popularity across the world. Billboard recommended it to radio broadcasters in September that year, and it was added to prominent US radio playlists during October and November. Interestingly, it holds the distinction of being the first pop song to ascend to No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart in two different decades.

The song’s lyrics tell the story of a man, bored with his routine relationship. Reading the personal ads in the newspaper, he spots an intriguing ad from a woman seeking a man who must like piña coladas. Intrigued, he responds to the ad and arranges to meet her at a bar called O’Malley’s. To his surprise, the woman turns out to be his current partner. The song ends on an upbeat note, revealing that they have more in common than they thought, starting with piña coladas.

According to a trivia site, the drink “almost wasn’t included in the lyrics at all.” Last Call Trivia explains: “Holmes once stated in an interview that the chorus originally began, ‘If you like Humphrey Bogart and getting caught in the rain.’ As he reflected on the song, he realized that a drink that’s tied to tropical paradise would invoke much more of a feeling of escape, and so Humphry Bogart was swapped out for Piña Coladas.”

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