Pina Colada: Recipe and Ingredients | Giovanni Ceccarelli

How to make a perfect Pina Colada!

Ricetta Pina Colada

Before understanding how to make a Pina Colada, you need to be clear that this drink isn’t a frozen drink in a strict sense, even though it’s prepared with a blender.

Gianni Zottola, a friend, colleague and expert in tropical beverages and tiki drinks, wrote the following about Pina Coladas in the BarTales magazine (No. 1, Year II – September 2014): ”A Pina Colada can definitely be considered one of the most confused, unstructured and distorted drinks in the history of mixing. […] made meaningless, underrated and disregarded though it is one of the most valuable and historic tropical drinks, and has become increasingly difficult and detestable to drink. ” I recommend you follow this link if you’re interested in reading his full article (italian language).

Since I don’t deal with history, but techniques and ingredients, I’ll explain how to make a Pina Colada worthy of this name.


Pina Colada ingredients giovanni ceccarelli

  • 9 cl of fresh pineapple juice;
  • 3 cl of coconut cream;
  • 1 cl of lime juice;
  • 5 cl of white Cuban ron;
  • a generous pinch of salt (optional);
  • half a scoop of crushed ice.

The quantities can vary depending on one’s personal taste.

The fresh pineapple juice is not what you buy at the super market: regardless of the brand, in this case, it should not be used. I have nothing against these products, which I regularly use at home, but fresh products must be used when making drinks. The best way to get fresh pineapple juice is through a slow juicer. This instrument, which turns very slowly while pressing the fruit, extracts a juice that is much richer in taste. A centrifuge is hardly acceptable. I use juice, not pineapple pulp, to avoid that unpleasant stratification in the drink once it is poured into the glass.

Coconut cream is nothing more than coconut milk and sugar. Unlike most common coconut syrups, coconut milk gives this preparation a more creamy consistency and a fuller flavour. I would recommend, for quality/price/availability, the coconut cream produced by the Italian company Naty’s or by Coco Lopez. The function of this ingredient is to bring sugar and coconut flavour to the drink. Coconut liquors such as (Malibù, Batida de coco) must absolutely be avoided.

The lime juice, freshly squeezed with a citrus squeezer, is needed to give some acidity to the drink, otherwise the Pina Colada is likely to be made too sweet. I use varying amounts depending on the taste of the pineapple and the coconut I use. I’ve never gone beyond using more than 1.5 cl.

As far as the ron is concerned I use Havana 3 because it’s clear yet it has a full flavour. The rum used is clearly a personal choice, however I suggest you avoid dark rum: it’s too sweet and rich in molasses. Do not overdo it with the amount of alcohol because it hampers the formation of foam (keep reading!).

Salt isn’t necessary, but a pinch exalts the flavour.

The ice must absolutely be crushed if you prepare this tropical drink with a blender. The recommended amount is half a scoop, so that it all melts, and cools the drink without diluting it too much. If you want you can serve the drink over new ice.


Now that we’ve analyzed each ingredient, we can prepare the drink.

Pineapple gum composition (Chenchin, Yamamoto)

Pineapple gum composition (Chenchin, Yamamoto)

Pour all the ingredients (the ice in last) into a blender. Blend for 20-25 seconds. If you used the right amount of ice, everything should melt.
I prefer an immersion blender rather than the classic blender because it allows me to adjust the amount of foam that forms on the drink. Starting at the bottom I blend and dissolve the ice, then, rising and remaining at the limit of the liquid’s surface, I let air enter the drink which forms the foam. The foam is formed because inside the pineapple there is gum made up mainly of polysaccharides called galactomannans (Chenchin, Yamamoto – Isolation, characterization and enzymic hydrolysis of pineapple gum). If you’d like to know more about pineapples click here.

This helps us understand why this drink is not a frozen drink and why it can’t contain too much alcohol: in either case it would limit the formation of foam making it flat and not as pleasing. However, many bars prefer to sell it as a frozen drink, yet in doing so the foam’s texture is lost: this is not to be considered a mistake, rather a choice when mixing.

One last bit of advice: Pina Coladas are also excellent when shaken (with ice cubes).

Happy Mixing,

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