Piña Colada, Happy 70th! 5 Recipes to Celebrate P.R.’s National Drink

Piña Colada Monchito Caribe Hilton

Piña colada, you beautiful beverage steeped in tropical majesty and easy-breezy purveyor of summer felicidad: Feliz cumpleaños!

On July 10, 2024, this legendary cocktail turns 70. Invented in Puerto Rico, la piña c is no stranger to the spotlight. This chilled drink has been loved the world over since its creation and even has its own ear-worm #1 Billboard 100 hit “If you like piña coladas, and getting caught in the rain…” (you know the rest, right?).

Familia Kitchen in an editorial collab with BELatina is beyond thrilled to pay homage to everyone’s favorite Boricua bebida with our own libation celebration. In honor of National Piña Colada Day this July 10 and the drink’s septuagenarian milestone, we asked two star Boricua bartenders in the U.S. to  share their go-to piña colada recipes. We hope all of you who love piña coladas (but not necessarily getting caught in the rain) enjoy their leveled-up takes on this island classic.

Marco Ortiz, a Puerto Rican cocktail pro living in Minneapolis, founder of Not Barspoon TV and an award-winning bartender, shares his no-blender magical piña colada recipe.

LyAnna Sanabria, a Puerto Rican who grew up in Maine, and is the beverage director and co-founder of Papi, a Puerto Rican bar and restaurant in Portland, Maine, shares her signature piña colada, steeped in her island childhood memories. Check out both recipes below!

We also feature tres más must-try piña colada recipes. Below you’ll find bartender Monchito Marrero’s 1954 recipe, plus one classic and one skinny version from Don Q, the top-selling rum in the world. Don Q is the local tesoro, proudly making quality rums in Puerto Rico since its founder opened the distillery in 1865. Fun fact: Don Q was used in the original recipe.

What Is a Piña Colada?

First things first, what’s a piña colada, anyway? No matter how you gussy it up and “elevate” it, the drink must include these three ingredients to be an official PC: white rum, pineapple juice, and some kind of coconut cream, either fresh or from a can. (Gracias Coco Lopez for making it easy for those of us who live far from a coconut tree). The drink’s name means “strained pineapple,” which is sometimes surprising since coconut is such a defining flavor. But the piña is the star ingrediente. The cocktail is usually served frozen and blended, and its sweet, creamy, refreshing texture is the point for most PC fans. Rum is also the point, of course. The piña colada is the perfect vehicle to showcase the Puerto Rican spirit.

The History of the Piña Colada

Who invented this cocktail? Three Puerto Rican bartenders and one pirate vie for the honor. When I was growing up on the island, living on Ashford Avenue just down the street from swanky Caribe Hilton, it was gospel that a bartender at that Puerto Rican hotel named Ramon “Monchito” Marrero dreamed up the cocktail at its Beachcomber Bar in 1954. The Caribe Hilton was the island’s fashionable hot spot, where celebrities sunned themselves and fancy local weddings took place. Today, a mural starring Monchito is in the lobby at Caribe Hilton, with his legendary recipe emblazoned for all to see.

Piña Colada recipe from Monchito Marrero
Piña colada recipe from Monchito Marrero, who created the first PC ever at Caribe Hilton in 1954.

However, a second Caribe Hilton bartender claimed he invented the drink a year earlier than Monchito, in 1953. A bartender at an Old San Juan restaurant, Barrachina, also said he dreamed it up first. And Puerto Rican pirate Roberto Cofresí may have served a version of the drink to calm his men 100 years earlier. So who is responsible for this Puerto RIcan gift to the world? We’ll never know, though I’m on Team Monchito out of respect for prevailing island lore. The Caribe Hilton is also all in on Monchito, and throwing a big piña colada party July 10 to 14 at Beachcomber Bar, where the bartender first served it 70 years ago.

What no one contests is that the piña colada was declared the National Drink of Puerto Rico in 1978. And that Puerto Rico Governor Sila Calderon commemorated its 50th anniversary at the Caribe Hilton in 2004, proclaiming the resort as the official birthplace of the bebida.

Today, the drink’s 70th anniversary is a big delicious deal for the world and Caribe Hilton. As it turns out I happen to be in Puerto Rico this July 10 and will drop by Caribe Hilton with friends to do my part to salute this island icon. Will report back.

Let’s Get Tropical: 5 Piña Coladas to Make

Bring Caribbean cool to your patio this year, with one of these five recipes. Below is the original Monchito recipe, plus two elevated piña coladas from our Boricua star bartenders Marco Ortiz and LyAnna Sanabria, and two from Puerto Rico’s top-selling Don Q.

Happy Piña Colada Day to you and yours!

Monchito piña colada

Here is the essential, the iconic, and (99.9% likely) the first piña colada recipe. It was created by Caribe Hilton bartender Ramon ”Monchito” Marrero, at the Boricua resort’s Beachcomber Bar in 1954. Supposedly, it took him about three months to perfect. Gracias for the diigence, Ramon. Thankfully for us moderns, it’s easy! And super refreshing. Takes me right back to the Caribe Hilton growing up, when every adult (especially the tourists) seemed to be sipping from a whole pineapple filled with a frothy, creamy something delicioso, using a very long straw. I didn’t know then, but I do now: This is why they were smiling.

Monchito’s Piña Colada Recipe
2 oz white rum
1 oz coconut cream (like Coco Lopez)
1 oz heavy cream
6 oz fresh pineapple juice
½ cup crushed ice
1 pineapple wedge, for garnish
1 maraschino cherry, for garnish

• Pour the rum, coconut cream and pineapple juice in a blender.
• Add ice and blend until smooth for about 15 seconds.
• Serve in a 12 oz glass.
• Garnish with a fresh pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry.

Marco Ortiz grew up in New York City to Puerto Rican parents and now lives in Minneapolis. A bartender who regularly travels for 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.

Watch Marco Ortiz make his no-blender magical take on the piña colada, step by step.
Marco Ortiz piña colada

Below is LyAnna Sanabria’s signature piña colada recipe, proudly served at Papi, her Puerto Rican restaurant and bar in Portland, Maine. “I make a LOT of piña coladas, professionally. At Papi, we make our house piña colada all of the time. And on the menu, we have a very big colada that we make a special rum blend for and then serve in a whole pineapple. Personally, though, piña colada consumption is a special occasion for me — like a birthday cake,” she says. Check out her elegant recipe.

LyAnna’s Piña Colada recipe
LyAnna Sanabria’s piña colada is one of the stars of her restaurant and bar, Papi, which makes you feel like you’re in Old San Juan on a hot summer night — despite being located in Maine.

These two time-honored recipes come from Don Q’s expert mixologists. Last year, we had the honor of interviewing the rum giant’s master blender, the impressive Liza Cordero, who told us, “Every distillery has its own process, its own distinction. However, Destilería Serrallés is incomparable and unique. Our roots go all the way back to 1865. Our rum was born here, in Ponce, Puerto Rico. We have grown as a company, but we still are in the same area of Puerto Rico. This is our home. We have used local resources in our manufacturing, like local water, which has this special and pure taste that imparts a special touch to Don Q rums that no other rum can replicate. We are loyal to our roots and happy that our rum is known all around the world. This is what being Puerto Rican is all about: Adding our special touch to everything that we do, so people get to know our culture.”

See the two piña coladas that put their heritage and craftsmaship on center stage, below. One classic and one low-cal and guilt-free.

Find more delicioso drinks to cool off this summer and enjoy year round at

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