Marco’s Piña Colada: No Blender & Next-Level Cool

Piña Colada Marco Ortiz

The piña colada turns 70 on July 10, 2024. Feliz cumpleaños to this legendary cocktail with the tropical vibes and its own No. 1 Billboard hit song!

In honor of Puerto Rico’s national drink’s big birthday, we are throwing  a libation celebration. We asked two Boricua bartenders we admire — Minneapolis-based Marco Ortiz and Portland, Maine-based LyAnna Sanabria — to shake up their favorite piña colada recipes for our Familia Kitchen and BELatina readers.

Watch Puerto Rican bartender Marco Ortiz shake up a super-cool, no-blender piña colada, step by step!

Ready to meet beverage magician Marco Ortiz? See below to learn about his piña colada philosophy, his first PC memory, and what the drink means to him as a Puerto Rican bartender based in the Midwest. We think you‘ll admire his super-cool, super-mod, no-blender piña colada as much as we do.

Then go check out LyAnna’s Old San Juan-style chill, elegant take on this Puerto Rican classic. To get a sense of how far these two bebida pros have reimagined the cocktail from its early days, compare their recipes against the 1954 original by Caribe Hilton hotel bartender Ramon “Monchito” Marrero. (Who invented this drink it is a bit of a controversy these days. Three bartenders and one pirate are all competing for the honor. Read more on that here, but in case you’re wondering: We’re on Team Monchito.)

All told, we are showcasing 5 piña colada recipes to pay tribute to the birthday drink. We invite you to check them all out before deciding which one you want to whip up this July 10. (Plus, every day this summer and any time you want to bring on island-party vibes.)

Piña Colada Marco Ortiz
Marco holds his science-y piña colada, no blender needed! See how he does it, below.

Meet Marco Ortiz, Piña Colada Pro & Boricua Bartender

Marco Ortiz grew up in New York City to Puerto Rican parents and now lives in Minneapolis. A nationally renowned bartender who regularly stars in cocktail popups and competitions, Ortiz also heads up his own channel, Not Barspoon TV and is lead bartender at a top Minneapolis restaurant.

We asked Marco for a blow-your-mind piña colada and he came back with a super-cool, super-clever no-blender piña colada that must be seen (and tasted) to be believed.

Q: Marco, how does making piña coladas remind you of your heritage and Puerto Rican family roots? 

A: As a diasporican, born in the Bronx but raised in the Midwest, finding that solid connection to my Puerto Rican heritage was always a struggle. The strongest connection I could draw was through food. My mom cooked Puerto Rican food my whole life and my grandparents made food worthy of the island. My grandfather and his coquito will also always hold a special place in my heart. On my search to connect to my roots, I discovered the piña colada and it immediately won my heart.

Marco Ortiz bartender
Bartender Marco at work, mixing up happiness in a glass.

Q. What is the secret to making a great piña colada?

A: To make an excellent piña colada you’ve got to pay close attention to the sweetness. If you’re making a frozen version you need more sugar than for a shaken version. This is so you can actually taste the sweetness at those super-cold temperatures. It also helps it to not freeze and gives it a great texture. But then, when that frozen drink melts, it will be too sweet. Finding the perfect balance of sweetness is the greatest challenge. And lime juice helps!

Q: Do you remember your first piña colada?

A: It was a chain-restaurant pina colada when I was 21 in a small town in Wisconsin. It was delicious. I feel like the beauty of the drink is that even the “entry level” piña colada is great. A daiquiri with sour mix may not be delicious, but a piña colada with Coco Lopez and Dole pineapple juice is still fire! That’s not to say it shouldn’t be elevated.

Q: When do you make piña coladas: How often and on what kinds of occasions?

The second I have the thought of sitting on a patio with a cocktail. I don’t make them enough because our patio season here in Minnesota is too short! It’s my favorite drink to make for friends visiting from a warm-weather place to let them know we can do tropical, too. The version you’ll see here requires a bit more prep work, but as far as execution goes, it’s actually quite easy and fun. 

Q: Tell us about your piña colada philosophy and your approach to the piña colada you are making today for us today.

This version of the piña colada fixes all of the potential problems that I think could arise with the drink. It’s a cool technique that allows you to make a slushy without a blender. It requires full attention to sweetness and temperature.

Using an iSi N2O charger (a whipper that instantly turns a liquid into a foam), we’re able to make a foam that we end up freezing in the glass, which will become the component that makes our drink into an instant piña colada. Using lime zest oleo (a mix of lime zest and sugar, recipe below) and angostura bitters adds some bitterness to help combat the sweetness of the drink.

I like to use a blend of three Puerto Rican white rums and some New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to get the perfect balance of tropical and grassy. After shaking the drink and serving it in the prepared glass, we get to watch the magic happen. Stirring the shaken drink together with the frozen foam gives it the consistency of a blender piña colada.

This is a pina colada designed to enjoy at a bar to make you feel like you’re on a beach. You’ll drink this one and consider getting another. Something I don’t see often with the classic piña colada!

Ready to Make Marco’s Magical, No-Blender Piña Colada?

Marco’s Piña Colada: No Blender & Next-Level Cool

Recipe by Marco Ortiz
5.0 from 1 vote
Cuisine: Puerto Rican




  • 4 dashes angostura bitters

  • 1/4 oz lime zest syrup (made with ½ lime peels and ½ sugar, in equal parts, see below)

  • 3/4 oz lime juice, fresh

  • 1 3/4 oz white rum

  • 1 oz Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand-style)

  • For the Foam
  • 1 iSi cream whipper (like the kind you see here)

  • 1 1/2 cups cream of coconut (like Coco Lopez)

  • 1 1/2 cups pineapple juice, fresh squeezed

  • 3 Tbsp sugar


  • Make the Lime Zest Oleo (Ahead of Time)
  • Lime zest oleo is made by combining lime peels and white sugar and allowing them to sit for 3 days. The sugar pulls the moisture out of the lime peels to make it a syrup. Here’s how to make it (ahead of time):
    • Combine equal parts lime peels (taking care to include as little pith as is possible) and sugar in a large zip bag. Marco uses about 1 cup of each to make a big batch for prolific piña colada making.
    • Allow the mixture to sit and blend for 3 days at room temperature.
    • Strain the mixture after 3 days, pouring 2 oz hot water over the lime peels to make sure sugar is dissolved into the resulting final syrup.
    • Store the syrup in the fridge, for up to 2 months.
  • Prepare the Pineapple Coconut Foam
  • In the container of your iSi cream whipper (like one of these), add sugar, pineapple juice and cream of coconut.
  • Using 2 N20 charges, add air to the liquid to create your foam. When you put the charge into it, the nitrogen gas fills the canister. Shake it a little to better incorporate the N20, says Marco, and then put the second charge into it and shake it once or twice again. The ingredients get whipped by the addition of the gas. Store the whipper in your fridge at least 24 hours to get a sturdy foam.
  • After 24 hours, pour the foam into freezer-safe, pre-chilled Collins glass. Fill the glass half full with the foam. (You can pour the foam into the glass either vertical/hot dog-style or horizontal/hamburger-style: Both are effective, says Marco).
  • To achieve the desired texture and temperature of the foam for the final drink, place the glass in the freezer overnight. Note: This foam does not freeze solid like a liquid would. It has a high amount of sugar and that, along with the fact that it is full of air, prevents it from freezing all the way through.
  • Make Your Piña Colada Drink and Add Foam
  • In a shaker, add the angostura bitters, lime zest syrup, lime juice, rum and wine.
  • Give the mixture a good, long shake. Strain into your freezer-chilled glass with the frozen foamy sugar-pineapple mixture. Serve with a straw.


  • Marco likes to mix 3 kinds of white rum to get his signature rum blend, but he encourages you to use your favorite Puerto Rican white rum.
  • This recipe uses an iSi whipper, which instantly turns a liquid into a foam. You can order one from many places, including here.

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