by Linda Coffman
Taste of Puerto Rico
Light and creamy—just add
When your ship's horn signals it's departure time, it's also
time for one of the highlights of every cruise—a
festive sailaway deck party. Laden with trays of exotic bon
voyage “umbrella” drinks, bar servers make their way through
throngs of cheerful passengers anxious to toast the beginning of
their cruise. Without a doubt, the
most popular of those tempting bon voyage beverages is the
Did you ever wonder who served up the very first Piña Colada?
I did, so I went to the source—the
Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico. According to
Maria Elena Pérez, the Piña Colada was introduced there on
August 15, 1954 by its creator Ramon “Monchito” Marrero.
As a newly hired bartender, Monchito set out to make a drink
with “a touch of zest” for Caribe Hilton guests, who sometimes
suffered the after effects of too many strong cocktails.
However, it was never meant to be a hangover remedy. Instead, he
set out to create a light drink, reflective of the tropical
tastes of Puerto Rico. He spent the better part of three months
mixing, tasting, and discarding hundreds of combinations until
he felt he had the perfect blend. And on that that day, the Piña
Colada was born.
Translated, Piña Colada means “strained pineapple” and
Monchito stressed that the pineapple should be fresh from the
field that morning because only Puerto Rican farmers know the
secret to “slicing out the best juice.” His world-famous drink
was designed to incorporate the warmth and flavors of Puerto
Rico in a smooth and creamy concoction.
Coco López, the maker of the coconut cream most often used in
the drink, marked the selling of the three millionth Piña Colada
in 1978 by presenting a color television set to Monchito. On the
same day, he was honored with a party and awarded a medal by the
Caribe Hilton, while the government of Puerto Rico declared the
Piña Colada the “national drink of Puerto Rico.” Monchito was
invited to Holland to be named an honorary member of the
Netherlands Bartenders Club in 1986. A plaque commemorating his
achievement is displayed at the tourist information center in
Monchito Marrero is no longer with us, but he is still a
celebrity in his own right and his legacy lives on in the form
of his flavorful handiwork. Internationally, it is estimated
that more than 200 million Piña Coladas have been served since
1954 when Monchito officially mixed the first one in what was
then the Caribe Hilton's Beachcombers Bar.
You can enjoy the same drink Monchito created and personally
served to Caribe Hilton guests, including such luminaries such
as Gloria Swanson, Elizabeth Taylor, and John Wayne. The
original Piña Colada recipe is:
2 ounces light rum
1 ounce coconut cream
1 ounce heavy cream
6 ounces fresh pineapple juice
1/2 cup crushed ice
Pineapple wedge & maraschino cherry for garnish
Pour rum, coconut cream, cream, and pineapple juice in
blender. Add ice. Blend for 15 seconds. Pour into a 12-ounce
glass. Add garnishes.
For those who prefer a tasty non-alcoholic Virgin Colada,
just leave out the rum.
Whether it's the original recipe, a variation containing
other flavors, or a Virgin-version, the Piña Colada is a
perennial favorite with cruise passengers world wide.
Caribe Hilton -- Relax with a Piña Colada during a pre-
or post-cruise visit to Puerto Rico.
Elena Pérez, Caribe Hilton Public Relations, San Juan, Puerto