Will the Real Piña Colada Please Stand Up?

Over time, the Piña Colada has fallen into the same disrepair as many tropical-at-heart cocktails, but it needn’t be so.

Derek Brown visits Puerto Rico to search for an authentic version of the frozen drink he can’t help but adore.

”I hate to tell this story,” chirped the young barkeep from Barrachina—one of the two bars that claim ownership of the Piña Colada—before he launched into what constitutes one of the drink’s many origin myths I heard while traveling in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Upon announcing his disdain, he released a large sigh, bordering on performance.

His story concerned a contest conducted by the cream of coconut brand Coco Lopez to select Puerto Rico’s national drink. I was unable to determine whether this contest actually took place (Coco Lopez’s website makes no mention), but the Piña Colada was declared Puerto Rico’s national drink in 1978, over 20 years after the drink’s more recited origin tales. The story seemed to be dubious at best. (Other, even more suspect lore points to late-19th-century pirates—namely one swashbuckling Roberto Cofresí—as the inventors of the tropical concoction, but nevermind that.)

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