Here are the ingredients for the BEST classic piña colada! It’s the sophisticated, grown up version of this frozen tropical drink.
When it comes to frozen cocktails, the piña colada is up there! It’s got those nostalgic 1990’s chain restaurant vibes, and it’s hard to find a resort that doesn’t have on on the menu. But did you know it’s actually a classic cocktail invented in the 1950’s? It’s gotten so popular that most restaurant versions stray far from the essence of the real thing. So what ingredients are really in this tropical frozen mixed drink? Here’s how to make a piña colada…the real way! It’s so full of sophisticated, intriguing flavor that it will become your go-to. (It is here!)
Piña colada ingredients
The piña colada is a popular classic cocktail invented in Puerto Rico made with pineapple juice, rum, and coconut, served blended or with crushed ice. The name means “strained pineapple” in Spanish. The original drink was invented in San Juan in 1954 by a bartender named Ramón “Monchito” Marrero. It became an instant favorite and was declared the official drink of Puerto Rico in 1978.
This drink is on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails, which means it has an official definition. Our version on the classic has one additional ingredient to the official definition: we’ll explain more about that below. The piña colada ingredients are:
- Cream of coconut (not coconut cream)
- Pineapple juice
- Frozen pineapple
- Lime juice
The IBA definition of a piña colada is the first three ingredients. Lime juice is traditionally added by many bartenders to add even more tangy flavor. We added frozen pineapple here to enhance the frozen texture and heighten the pineapple flavor.
Don’t want to buy cream of coconut? Go to Frozen Piña Colada.
Cream of coconut vs coconut cream
Here’s an important note about the piña colada ingredients. If you remember one thing, this is it. Buy cream of coconut, not coconut cream. What’s the difference between these similar sounding products? A lot. Here’s what to know about cream of coconut vs coconut cream:
- Coconut cream is made from chilling coconut milk and then skimming off the layer of cream that floats to the top. It is very thick and tastes like coconut, but is not sweetened. It’s typically sold in cans next to the coconut milk.
- Cream of coconut is coconut cream with lots of sugar added. It’s used to sweeten tropical drinks like a classic piña colada. Because it’s used in drinks, it’s sold in handy squeeze bottles. Cream of coconut is easy to find online or at your local liquor store. A popular brand is Coco Real.
What happens if you buy coconut cream for this drink? Well, it won’t taste sweet at all. If you make this misstep and want to save your drink, you can add simple syrup to taste.
Variation: make a coconut milk piña colada!
Don’t want to bother with cream of coconut? Don’t worry: we’ve got a simplified version for you! Our frozen piña colada ingredients are much simpler. Gather these ingredients and go to the Frozen Pina Colada recipe:
- Frozen pineapple chunks
- White rum
- Full fat coconut milk
- Lime juice
- Maple syrup or simple syrup
Another idea? Try the Painkiller Cocktail, a super sophisticated spin on the piña colada with orange juice and aged rum.
Aged rum gives the best flavor to a piña colada
Many piña colada recipes call for white rum, or both white rum and aged rum. But want to have the best flavor in your piña colada? Make it with just aged rum! Here’s why:
- Aged rum is also known as golden rum, amber rum, or añejo rum (meaning “aged”). Aging gives it a complex flavor, more like a Cognac. It has undertones of vanilla, coconut, almond, citrus, or caramel. The aged rum that we used here was Brugal Añejo Rum.
- White rum is more straightforward in flavor, with less nuance. It gives more of a classic rum “burn” to this piña colada. But it tastes great and you can use it if that’s all you have on hand!
Where to get drink umbrellas
Of course, what’s more fun than serving a piña colada with drunk umbrellas? It adds just the right festive flair: though of course, it tastes the same without them too. It tastes great no matter how you serve it! We found our drink umbrellas online here: buy drink umbrellas on Amazon.
Want a virgin piña colada? We’ve got that too
Mixing up drinks for mixed company? We’ve got a version that works for kiddos, pregnant moms or anyone who wants to avoid alcohol. This zero proof mocktail is mighty tasty! Hey, it might be closer to a pineapple smoothie than a cocktail, but who’s counting? Go to Virgin Pina Colada.
When to serve a piña colada
When not to serve a piña colada is the question! This classic version of the piña colada is sophisticated with its aged rum and cream of coconut. It’s great as a:
- Summer drink
- Bridal shower drink or bachelorette party drink
- Girls night drink
- Happy hour drink
- Dinner party drink
- Beach party drink or lake house drink
Here’s how to make a classic piña colada: the sophisticated, grown up version of this tropical drink!
- 1 1/2 cups frozen pineapple
- 1 1/2 cups ice
- 5 ounces (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) aged rum
- 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cream of coconut (not coconut cream; see notes*)
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) pineapple juice
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) lime juice
- For the garnish: cocktail cherry
- Blend pineapple and ice until chunky. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve garnished with a cocktail cherry and drink umbrellas.
Cream of coconut is a special coconut product made for sweetening drinks. Coconut cream is sold in cans and is not sweetened. Don’t buy coconut cream or the drink will not taste sweetened! If you make this misstep and want to save your drink, you can add simple syrup to taste. Or, you can also make our simplified version of a pina colada with coconut milk. Go to Frozen Pina Colada.
- Category: Drink
- Method: Blended
- Cuisine: Cocktails
Keywords: piña colada, piña colada ingredients
More classic rum drinks
There are so many tasty rum drinks to make with the rest of a bottle! Here are some of our best rum cocktails to try:
- Make an ultra classic Classic Daiquiri with lime and white rum
- Grab some mint and mix up that classic Cuban cocktail, the Mojito
- Make the easiest 2-ingredient Dark and Stormy or Cuba Libre
- Mix up a fruity and tropical Mai Tai
- Go sophisticated with the fusion-inspired Jungle Bird
- Make a boozy spin on the Manhattan, the El Presidente
- Go classic New Orleans with a Hurricane
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.