In 1979, British-born American singer Rupert Holmes wrote a single with a wacky title Escape (The Pina Colada Song). With its catchy tune, this song about rekindling romance through a shared love for Pina Colada and rain has been used in the soundtrack of popular movies such as Guardians of Galaxy, Grown Ups, and Shrek.
The lyrics of Holmes single are so simple that the words get stuck in your head and makes you crave for Pina Colada and go dancing in the rain or maybe somewhere out there to a beach. Perhaps to the idyllic beaches of Puerto Rico, where Pina Colada was first made? Just a year before Holmes wrote his song, Pina Colada became the national drink of the Caribbean Island in 1978. Puerto Ricans are so proud of their creation that they celebrate National Pina Colada Day every year on 10 July.
Made with pineapple juice, coconut milk, and rum, the cocktail has a Spanish-origin name. Pina Colada literally means ‘strained pineapple’. The credit for the original recipe of Pina Colada is owned by Puerto Rican bartenders: Ramon “Monchito” Marrero Perez and Ramon Portas Mingot.
According to one story, Ramon “Monchito” Marrero Perez made the first Pina Colada drink by mixing rum and coco lópez, that is, cream of coconut. This was in 1954 at Caribe Hilton Hotel’s Beachcomber Bar in San Juan where Perez worked. Another story claims that Mingot created the drink in 1963 at Barrachina Restaurant in Old Juan.
Perez and Mingot were given the formal ownership of the drink in a contest held all over Puerto Rico. However, despite these claims, the original Pina Colada has a far more interesting story. Roberto Cofresi, a Puerto Rican pirate, saw that his crew was losing their enthusiasm. To energize them, Confresi, who was also known as El Pirata Confresi, concocted a beverage by mixing coconut cream, pineapple juice, and white rum. Thus, this sweet cocktail has its origins in the 19th century
Who would have known that such an innocent-looking beverage with its sweetness and fruity aroma would have such a beginning in the wild wild world of Puerto Rican pirates? Apparently, the original recipe was lost after the death of El Pirata Confresi. According to official records, Perez and Mingot revived the drink, which was later made popular worldwide by the Rupert Holmes song. The next time you order a Pina Colada, you will know the innocent-looking tropical drink has had a far more interesting story than you would have imagined.