Puerto Rico // San Juan and around //

Claiming the piña colada

Synonymous with both tropical languor and the high life, the piña colada became Puerto Rico’s national drink in 1978, thanks to the widely held view that it was created here over fifty years ago. The official claimant (recognized by the Puerto Rican government) is bartender Ramon “Monchito” Marrero, who is said to have created the drink while working in the former Beachcombers’ Bar of the Caribe Hilton in 1954 (their Piña Colada Club keeps up the tradition today). However, if you visit the Barrachina restaurant at c/Fortaleza 104 in Old San Juan (whttp://www.barrachina.com), a marble plaque on the street claims that Don Ramon Portas Mingot created the drink there in 1963.

The truth is that no one really knows who invented the cocktail – “piña coladas” were being made in Cuba at the turn of the century, where they literally were just non-alcoholic “strained pineapple”. However, some aficionados claim the alcoholic version was mentioned in travel magazines as early as 1922 with reference to Cuba. The latter is definitely the home of the mojito and daiquiri and perhaps the piña colada too – but just don’t say that when you’re in Puerto Rico.