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 iconic. It’s got those 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? Unfortunately many restaurant versions and bottled mixes stray from the essence of the real thing. What ingredients are really in this tropical frozen mixed drink? Here’s how to make a piña colada…the classic way!
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 spin on the classic has two additional ingredients. 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.
Cream of coconut vs coconut cream
Here’s an important note about the piña colada ingredients: 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 and is 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. More popular coconut cocktails use this ingredient, too: try the Painkiller, Chi Chi, Coconut Martini or Bushwacker.
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.
Or, 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! Gather these ingredients and go to the Frozen Pina Colada recipe:
- Frozen pineapple chunks
- White rum
- Full fat coconut milk
- Lime juice
- Simple syrup
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 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
What’s more fun than serving a piña colada with drunk umbrellas? It adds just the right festive flair: though of course, it tastes great no matter how you serve it! We found our drink umbrellas online here: buy drink umbrellas on Amazon.
Piña colada variations
Mixing up drinks for mixed company? We’ve got a version that works for kiddos, pregnant moms or anyone who wants to avoid alcohol. There are also several variations on this classic drink:
- Try a zero proof Virgin Pina Colada
- Opt for a Frozen Piña Colada
- Go for the Chi Chi, a pina colada with vodka
- Mix up the Painkiller, a variation with aged rum and orange juice
Here’s how to make a classic piña colada: the sophisticated, grown up version of this tropical drink! For a simplified spin with a smoothie-like texture, go to Frozen Piña Colada.
- 1 ½ cups frozen pineapple
- 1 ½ cups ice
- 5 ounces (½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) aged rum
- 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cream of coconut (not coconut cream; see notes*)
- 4 ounces (½ 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, whereas coconut cream is unsweetened (read more at Cream of Coconut vs Coconut Cream). 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. You can also make a simplified version of this drink with coconut milk instead: go to Frozen Pina Colada.
- Category: Drink
- Method: Blended
- Cuisine: Cocktails
- Diet: Vegan
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