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Ode to the Piña Colada in 3 recipes

Because who doesn’t like piña coladas?

Fresh and fruity, sweet but not too sweet, rich and fatty from the coconut, and straight up tasting like vacation: Piña Coladas are the perfect cocktail. Its history dates back to 1950’s Puerto Rico. Equally enjoyable whether on vacation or pretending to be on vacation while stuck inside on a gloomy day, a well crafted piña colada can be the piece de resistance. 

There are so many ways to drink a Piña Colada these days–from healthy smoothie-like versions that use natural pineapple and its juice plus coconut milk, to loading up on Coco Lopez. It’s a real Sophie’s choice when it comes to base ingredients–including the spirit. Purists tend to opt for white rum, but dark rum, and of course mezcal, are both fun bases to build upon. And with the craft spirits now coming out of Mexico, it is possible to put a very Mexican twist on the classic recipe. Playing with the format beyond blended or on the rocks is another way to let the creative juices flow. For those suffering from huevonitis, an ounce or two of the Pineapple Colada crema from Sunora Bacanora over ice also does the trick. 

Since we could all use an excuse to enjoy more pina coladas in 2020, here are 3 recipes to celebrate this masterpiece of flavors. 

Mezcal Pina Colada Congelada 

Pineapple and mezcal are natural bffs, and creamy coconut works especially well with the sweet earthiness and lactic flavors in some mezcals. A good cocktail mezcal from Durango like Lagrimas De Dolores Cenizo Colonial is ideal, though any mezcal that isn’t too smoky or spicy will work. 


  • 2 oz mezcal
  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 oz lime juice 
  • 1 oz coco lopez cream of coconut 
  • Ice (about 4 oz) 


Combine ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. This makes one super sized portion or two 5oz drinks.  

Pina Colada Paletas Michoacanas 

Michoacan’s gastronomy culture is rich, and two specialties are the regional rum Charanda, and popsicles; this recipe combines both. An unaged charanda, like Uruapan, allows for the sweet and earthy flavors of the spirit to come through while keeping the flavor profile bright and clean. Since we won’t be blending with or pouring/shaking over ice, water for dilution is added to the base. 


  • 2 oz Charanda blanco 
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 2 oz coco lopez
  • 1 oz water 


Multiply the single 6 oz recipe to fit your popsicle molds. Combine ingredients in a blender or thoroughly mix in a shaker before filling your popsicle molds, freeze overnight. 

Pina Colada Arroz Con Leche

Easier to make than tres leches, and every bit as creamy and indulgent, this slow cooker recipe is alternative for cooler weather. Canned or fresh pineapple works well for this recipe. 


  • 1 cup short grain rice
  • 1 13.5 oz can coconut milk (not light) 
  • 1 7.4 oz can sweetened condensed coconut milk 
  • 2 cups pineapple chunks 
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, optional
  • ¼ cup dark rum
  • Toasted coconut flakes 


Add rice and coconut milks to a slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours. While that is cooking, roast the pineapple chunks in a 350 degree oven until caramelized, about 30 minutes and set aside. After 4 hours of cooking, check for sweetness and adjust with maple syrup, stir in roasted pineapple chunks and dark rum. Serve warm or chilled, topped with toasted coconut flakes.

Tess Rose Lampert is a wine and spirits educator with a focus on mezcal. She is a frequent contributor to Mezcalistas and has developed programming for Mexico in a Bottle and Spirited Conversations. She has an Advanced Degree from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, Spanish Wine Educator Certificate, an MA from the University of East Anglia, UK, in Philosophy of Food and Drink and a BA from Bard College in NY.

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