AlcoHOLidays | Pina Colada Day | Van-Pina Colada



When I was very young and we lived with my grandmother, one of the many things I remember about her house was the wet bar in the living room. Tucked away to the right of the televisions and closed off by some bi-fold doors, I just thought (still think) it was one of the neatest things. And some nights my aunt would mix-up some pina coladas for the family and I would get my own (before the rum was added, of course) in a cute little glass that sort of looked like a miniature of those old fashioned sundae glasses.

So you can imagine that pina coladas have a special place in my cocktail-loving heart (or should I say liver?).

Strangely enough, I don’t make them very often. I’m not a huge fan of blender drinks in general and I almost never have Coco Lopez (the coconut cream necessary for a good pina colada). But for Pina Colada Day (July 10) I will certainly make an exception.

What turns me off of most blender drinks, though, is the little shards of crushed and blended ice. Seldom are they truly smooth enough to be pleasant and the brightness of the melting ice sometimes interferes with the taste of the frozen drink itself. The better the blender, I’m betting, the lesser this problem, but I wondered if there was something I could use instead of just plain crushed ice.

Of course there was.

Van-Pina Colada

3.5 oz Pineapple Juice
2 oz Coconut Cream
1.75 oz Aged Light Rum
1.5 cups Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Combine the juice, cream, and rum in a blender and puree until smooth and combined. Add the ice cream and blend until smooth. If you want a thicker colada, add more ice cream.

Pina Coladas usually call for white rum but I find white rums brassy and harsh in so many cases so I took advantage of my new-found love of Aged Light Rum (like the Cruzan I review last week) and used that instead. The ice cream I used was Breyers Vanilla Bean (Lactose Free) and the result is a rich, creamy, colada-cum-milkshake that gives me the flavor I was looking for without the unpleasant texture despite having a less than top-of-the-line blender (mine was actually a thrift store purchase many years ago for all of $5).

Adding more of any one mixer would usually dilute the flavors of the drink too much, but I think with the flavor enhancing properties of vanilla in the ice cream, you could safely increase the ice cream by quite a bit to stretch this drink to several servings.


Umbrella Drinks


So much for the cold snap! While it may be snowing in parts of the US, in Florida it was triple digits and the only way to make that sort of heat bearable is with something cold and slushy. Enter the frozen beverages most often served with a cute little umbrella perched on top.

I don’t think it’s out of line to claim that the Pina Colada is the most often thought-of drink that comes with one of those petite parasols and, when we were getting ready for our cruise (yes, I’m totally milking that trip for every ounce of happiness and material possible) I read about a drink called the Miami Vice: half Pina Colada, half Strawberry Daiquiri. Yum!

Now, most folks would just pull out the rum and the pre-made mixes to go with the ice and the blender, but fresh is almost always better so here’s a version of each that will put you in a tropical mood no matter what your climate:

Pina Colada for 1

4 oz Pineapple juice
2 oz coconut cream
1/2 c pineapple chunks
2 Tbsp shredded or grated coconut
1 oz Pineapple rum
1 oz Dark rum
1 oz cream or half-and-half
2 c ice

Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.

Strawberry Frozen Daiquiri for 1

1 c Strawberries, hulled and halved if fresh
1 oz White rum
1 oz Dark rum
2 c ice

Combine and blend until smooth.

Now, a few notes. Coconut cream is not the same as coconut milk, you may have to search for the cream. If you use just the coconut milk that you’d normally cook with the drink will be lacking in a bit of flavor and smoothness but it can be done (using coconut rum might help the flavor aspect). If strawberries are out of season, use frozen, or if they just don’t have a full flavor, adding a shot of strawberry pucker–yes, really–can help the overall flavor and it’s still better than using a mix.

To make the Miami Vice, pour the Pina Colada and Strawberry Daiquiri simultaneously into a tall glass. Garnish with a pineapple chunk on one side, a strawberry on the other, and–of course–a cute little umbrella, if you have one handy.