The Liquor Cabinet

The Pina Colada Is THE Retro Cocktail of The Summer

Learn how to make a Pina Colada, the history of the Pina Colada cocktail, plus tips and tricks to taking the best Pina Colada cocktail recipe to the next level.

The Pina Colada Is THE Retro Cocktail of The Summer

If you like Pina Coladas (yes, we’re singing along too!) you’ve come to the right place. This retro 1970s cocktail is a favourite for a reason — its sweet, tropical flavours instantly take you on a mental holiday. That is, if you’re not poolside already.

Here’s an easy Pina Colada recipe to help kick off your summer celebrations. Just add a sunhat!

How to make a Pina Colada



  • 50mL white rum (like Bacardi, or use a coconut rum like Coconut Beach)
  • 75mL fresh pineapple juice
  • 25mL coconut cream
  • ½ cup ice



  1. Add all the Pina Colada ingredients to a blender and pulse until incorporated and smooth.
  2. Pour into a Pina Colada glass or other large glass.
  3. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry.

This easy Pina Colada recipe can also be made using a cocktail shaker. Add all Pina Colada ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds until combined and frothy. You can top with crushed ice, as an option, and serve in the same way.

The history of the Pina Colada cocktail

Now that you know what’s in a Pina Colada, let’s talk about how this delicious nostalgic cocktail came to be. Translating from Spanish as “strained pineapple”, the Pina Colada cocktail was born in Puerto Rico in the 1950s, but it really gained popularity in the 1970s as a party drink. So much so that in 1978, it was crowned Puerto Rico’s national beverage.


The rum cocktail’s star turn as the libation of choice in Rupert Holmes’ iconic 1979 hit, Escape (The Pina Colada Song), undoubtedly helped spread this rum cocktail’s popularity around the world.


Its original recipe is contested by three separate Puerto Rican bartenders, all of whom have tried to claim the Pina Colada drink as their own. But the most widely accepted variation is that the Pina Colada was invented by bartender Ramón “Monchito” Marrero at the San Juan Caribe Hilton Hotel, and the cocktail still has a strong presence in the hotel’s bar to this day.


Whoever was responsible for the Pina Colada cocktail, its sweetness and smooth, creamy texture make it an approachable and delicious choice.

The best Pina Colada recipe is one you can customise!

Skip the premade Pina Colada mix — when it comes to this rum cocktail, you can literally choose your own adventure.


If you like your cocktails sweet, opt for cream of coconut. The original Pina Colada recipe will call for something like Coco Lopez, which is a creamed coconut reminiscent of condensed milk. That can be a little bit tricky to find on Aussie shelves, but since we love our coconut anyway, coconut cream for cocktails works just as well.


Using coconut milk instead of coconut cream for Pina Coladas yields a thinner, silkier texture with less fat content — but without taking away from that delicious flavour.


For something with a little more complexity, you can use different kinds of rum. Try spiced rum like The Kraken Spiced Rum or Dead Man’s Fingers Spiced Rum, or an aged rum like Havana Club Anejo Especial in addition to the white/coconut rum, or to really make this Pina Colada recipe your own, swap them out entirely.

For an even fruitier cocktail, you could combine your white rum with something like Captain Morgan Tropical or Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple Rum.


If you want a sessionable cocktail with a low alcohol volume, check your rum of choice in the Pina Colada recipe. A Malibu Pina Colada will contain less alcohol than a Bacardi Pina Colada, at 21 per cent and 37.5 per cent respectively. An overproof rum like Bundaberg OP, on the other hand, will be much stronger (around 57.7 per cent).


Other ways to personalise your Pina Colada include dividing the pineapple ratio between fresh fruit chunks and juice to make for a thicker cocktail. Frozen pineapple will make the cocktail icy like a slushy — basically, frozen Pina Colada — whereas fresh pineapple will make it more like a smoothie.


And how is a Pina Colada best served? Poured into a big glass (like a hurricane or Pina Colada glass), garnished with fresh pineapple edge and with a colourful (reusable, naturally) straw.


Whichever direction you take your Pina Colada cocktail in, it’s sure to hit that nostalgic sweet spot this summer.

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