The Perfect Piña Colada Recipe From The Puerto Rican Hotel That Invented It

The Perfect Piña Colada Recipe From The Puerto Rican Hotel That Invented It

As the palm trees sway in the colorful Caribbean sunset, the perfect piña colada served up by a cute, flirty bartender managing a coveting tropical location — the poolside bar — is the reason many of us fly south. Expertly crafted adult libations filled with topical fruity flavors punctuate a beach getaway.

I recently stayed at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and unbeknownst to me, it is where the piña colada was invented. Of course, I had to test out the original recipe. It was, hands down, the best piña colada I have sipped. Made with traditional Puerto Rican rum and tropical goodies, it was a delightful discovery.

Laguna Del Condado in San Juan

In 1949, the Caribe Hilton opened its doors on a quiet stretch of the Laguna Del Condado. Little did they know, in a few short years, they would be world-famous for crafting a beautiful beachy beverage — the piña colada. Fast forward more than seven decades and the piña colada graces the menu of every beach resort around the world.

More than just the home of an iconic drink, the popular Caribe Hilton welcomes visitors looking for a beautiful spot to relax and immerse themselves in the outdoor Caribbean lifestyle. From the minute you enter the open-air lobby, you are transported to luxurious island-time mode. Family-friendly and/or a getaway for two, the Caribe is a lively spot for vacationers looking to relax and rejuvenate.

During my recent visit, I enjoyed wandering the beautifully landscaped grounds — including a quiet gazebo seemingly floating on a small pond. Yo-Lates (a gentle combination of yoga and Pilates) on the beach was the perfect way to begin my San Juan, sun-soaked days. There is an ocean-front pool area, tennis courts with lessons from a pro, snuba, and other fun activities on the property.

At night, guests can be found dancing in the lounge and sipping piña coladas.

The History Of The Piña Colada

In 1954, the Caribe Hilton management team challenged their bartenders to invent a refreshing, tropical drink as a welcome beverage for guests checking into the hotel. Several bartenders took up the challenge and concocted pretty drinks reflecting the island’s laid-back and sunny vibe. For weeks the bartenders perfected their creations, getting them ready for the competition.

The winner was bartender Ramón “Monchito” Marrero. He created the piña colada for the Caribe Hilton. It was an instant success. In 1978 the piña colada was named the national drink of Puerto Rico.

Another piña colada invention claim was issued in 1963 (9 years after Marrero’s) by Barrachina, a restaurant in Old San Juan. As the story goes, Ramon Portas Mingot, Barrachina’s bartender, knew Marrero. So who knows? In any case, the Caribe Hilton is recognized worldwide as the birthplace of this fabulous drink.

Fast forward almost seven decades, and the piña colada is ordered in tropical venues around the globe. The beloved frosty beverage is almost a requirement when sitting by a pool in a sultry tropical vacation destination. Alternatively, when you are dreaming of a tropical destination and relaxing on your deck at home, a perfectly crafted piña colada can go a long way to setting the getaway mood.

Pro Tip: National Piña Colada Day is July 10. It would be a great time to have some friends over and fire up the blender to make the recipe below.

The Piña Colada Wall

How To Make The Perfect Piña Colada

You will need a blender; there is no other way to get that frosty texture and creamy consistency. Feel free to choose whatever good quality rum suits your taste buds. But for an authentic Puerto Rico-inspired piña colada, consider using a Puerto Rican rum.

Pretty curvy glasses (consider the poco grande or hurricane glasses) show off the delicate yellow tint and thick, frosty consistency. It is all about the presentation.


Step 1: Pour the rum, coconut cream, heavy cream, and pineapple juice to a blender. Add the ice and blend until smooth — about 15 seconds.

Step 2: Serve in a 12-ounce glass with a straw. Garnish with a fresh pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry.

Step 3: Sip on the perfect piña colada with your friends and let the party begin.

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