Do you like piña coladas? Or would you rather be caught in the rain? If you do, celebrate National Piña Colada Day, put the pineapple and rum in the coconut, and drink it all up.
The pineapple, coconut and rum concoction is wildly popular in Puerto Rico and wherever there's hot sun, cold ice, and a Caribbean breeze. Tracking down who invented a particular cocktail can be tricky, since everyone involved was drinking at the time. Depending on who you ask, the piña colada was invented in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1963 by Ramón Portas Mingot, in 1954 by Ramón Marrero or Ricardo Gracia, or in Cuba in 1950.
Variations on the recipe abound as well, but generally if you blend cream of coconut, light rum and pineapple juice together with ice, you've got a piña colada. Ironically, "piña colada" means "strained pineapple [juice]", with no mention of the coconut component, and most piña coladas are blended rather than shaken and strained these days.
A crucial note on the coconut part: It can take many forms, so it's to your advantage to make sure you get the right one, or else risk winding up with an overly watery or bland drink. Coconut water (aka "coconut juice") is the clear, nutty-tasting liquid inside a young coconut. It's reputed to be something of a super drink, loaded with potassium. Coconut milk is made by cooking or steeping equal parts grated coconut meat and water, and is often used in Thai curries and other tropical cuisines. Coconut cream is a much thicker version of coconut milk, made by cooking the coconut flesh with water at a 4:1 ratio, or by letting the cream rise to the top of coconut milk. You definitely don't want creamed coconut, which is dehydrated unsweetened coconut meat ground into a paste. And to confuse you even more, cream of coconut is coconut cream processed with sugar. Here's the takeaway: if you're making a piña colada, you want cream of coconut -- Coco López is the original brand to hit the market in 1954, but Coco Reál and Costamar are often easy to find as well.
Try a basic piña colada recipe using equal parts of the three main ingredients, but of course you can change up the recipe in lots of interesting ways. Cocktail blogger Matt "RumDood" Robold and bartender Marcos Tello vary the proportions and add a bit of lime juice, blogger Anita Crotty of Married...With Dinner skips the cream of coconut in favor of coconut sorbet, and at the Pegu Blog, Doug Winship uses spiced rum and adds Cointreau. Blair Reynolds goes full-on tiki with the Bimbolada, using Mount Gay XO rum and passion fruit syrup, while celebrity cocktailian Rachel Maddow eschews canned cream of coconut and rolls her own using coconut milk and orgeat syrup.
However you take it, for best results you're going to want a palm tree over your head and sand between your toes. Grab your lovely someone, and make your escape!