Summer is a time for some of our most favorite things—beaches, pools, and pools right next to beaches—but there’s nothing we love more than celebrating legendary cocktails. From National Mai Tai Day to National Punch Day (we include rum, of course) there’s no shortage of “holidays” during the summer months, but there’s arguably no better occasion for busting out the bar cart than National Piña Colada Day on July 10.
We love this drink a little more than others because this is such a fun beverage to make, one that will impress everyone around the pool and make them consider you the chief mixologist of the squad. But being great at making a piña colada still isn’t as fun as enjoying one in Puerto Rico, the island where it was invented and is the official drink.
Hopping over to the Island of Enchantment on a whim isn’t easy, but the good thing is every day is National Piña Colada Day there. So, when it is time to visit, here are five must-visit places for any fan of this beloved cocktail.
The Birthplace of the Piña Colada
If you’re visiting Puerto Rico for any reason—food, family, wellness, surfing, golf, to recreate the Goldeneye scenes that were filmed there—you should schedule some time to swing by Caribe Hilton to enjoy a piña colada at the place where it was originally created by Ramón “Monchito” Marrero in 1954. Even if you only have enough time to have one cocktail, it’s worth the trek. Just don’t drink it so quickly that you suffer la congelación cerebral.
If you have a little more time, though, you can saddle up at Caribar and taste the deliciousness of the evolution of this beverage, beginning with the original piña colada, followed by the Painkiller, Colada Nueva, and finally the Clear Colada, which was invented here in 2015. Just don’t forget to enjoy some of the amazing tapas dishes between sips.
A Taste of the Old World
When you exit Caribe Hilton, hail a cab for a quick ride to Barrachina Restaurant Old San Juan, an old-world eatery located a block or so from some of the area’s most selfie-worthy spots, including La Fortaleza and Paseo de la Princesa. Like most cocktails, the origin of the piña colada isn’t without controversy, and this beloved establishment (AKA the King of Paella) claims that bartender Don Ramon Portas Mingot invented it in 1963.
We may never know the truth, but we also believe that there’s room for more than one legendary recipe in this world. So, in addition to the chorizos al jerez and a 16-oz. lobster tail, grab a frosty piña colada and decide for yourself which one should be crowned the best. Or simply declare it a tie and be happy they all exist.
Time to Cool Off
Stick around Old San Juan to enjoy the many sights and the incredible architecture and design of the beautiful buildings, but before you wander too far, stop and grab a treat right around the corner from Barrachina. Señor Paleta is the island’s first paletería and offers visitors a much-needed frosty delight on the hottest afternoons.
The frozen fruity snacks sold here all deserve a taste, but none more than the one that pays tribute to the piña colada. The paleteros offer a refreshing blend of pineapple and coconut that will keep guests happy under the sun as they tour the area and stop by the “I Love Puerto Rico” sign for some photos.
A New Twist for the Instagram Era
An even shorter distance from Caribe Hilton is Jungle Bird, a “tropical leisure cocktail bar” that serves drinks so cool and decadent that you might be afraid to drink it and ruin the effort put into it by the talented mixologists. Fight that urge, though, and have at it, because the Tepache Colada is all the rage.
A Latin American spin on the piña colada awaits here, and it is made with fermented pineapple rinds, baked with spices and sugar cane, and mixed with the house-made coconut cream. Pair it with the olive oil marinated skirt steak or simply enjoy it with a fine cigar. Either way, you’ll be thrilled you stopped into this stylish spot.
The Emphasis is on the Coconut
Over in Rincón, on the west coast of the island, La Ana de Cofresí Restaurant at Villa Cofresí offers a variety of cocktails that are sure to fire up your party engines. But the signature cocktail here is the “Coco Pirata,” or the Coconut Pirate, which is another fun twist on the classic recipe.
Using every part of the fruit, this piña colada features four rums and a dash of cinnamon, in addition to the coconut water and milk. Best of all, it is served in the coconut, which always makes for the best sunset toasts and photos of the drink we’ll never forget.