The 8 Piña Coladas you need to try in its hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico
YOU DON’T HAVE to go far to find a Piña Colada in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The cocktail’s birthplace is rife with frosty hurricane glasses full of rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice. The bar at your hotel undoubtedly blends a reliable version, which you can happily slurp while lounging on the sunny hotel patio until you get brain freeze. But you don’t want to simply call it in when drinking Piña Coladas in Puerto Rico — because the bars on this island make some of the best vacation drinks in America.
To start, any lover of frozen beverages needs to make the pilgrimage to the bar that invented the Piña Colada — or rather, both bars that “invented” it. Narrowing down the options, it gets a little complicated. Barrachina and the Caribe Hilton have tussled for decades over credit for the drink. The Hilton claims that bartender Ramon Marrero created the drink there in 1954 though a competing story gives credit to another bartender there, Ricardo Gracia. Another theory claims that Marrero put together an ersatz version while working at Barrachina before moving to the Caribe Hilton. Or maybe it was yet another bartender at Barrachina, Ramon Portas Mingot, who was first. Lost yet?
Luckily, the long-standing feud doesn’t detract from the delicious beverages at both bars, so in the name of fairness, try both. The bars are just 20 minutes apart by car. But why stop the bar crawl there? A handful of bars around town have put their own spins on the Piña Colada that are worth checking out too. The next time you’re in PR, here are the spots you have to hit.
1. Barrachina – Birthplace of the Piña Colada
Start your journey round the whirring slushie machine at Barrachina. A neon sign announces the bar in the evening, but pink stone walls that flank the courtyard make it an even more delightful day-drinking spot, when a tall, frosty drink is most appropriate. Pass the time sipping your drink watching the bartender as he fills entire pitchers from a row of drink machines while hoards of tourists gobble them down just as quickly.
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