Most people think of Saint Patrick’s day when the 17th of March rolls around but I’m reminded of my older sister, Cynthia’s, wedding anniversary. Almost 40 years ago I was working in Puerto Rico with Delta Airlines and being away from home had missed all the wedding planning and preparations. Unable to leave work until the afternoon of the rehearsal dinner, I flew into Fort Lauderdale in time for the rehearsal dinner after-party which I was hosting. This was almost 40 years ago, when tropical drinks were thought of as exotic and slightly dangerous. My post-dinner party was to be a Puerto Rican pina colada celebration and I arrived well prepared. My suitcase was loaded with small cans of Coco Lopez cream of coconut, a product almost unknown here in south Florida at the time, my blender and a blender I had borrowed from a friend. I had boarded the flight with two handles of golden Puerto Rican rum…one in each hand. My only instructions for Mama were to stock up on ice, pineapple juice and limes. Knowing my flight would touch down at about the same time the dessert course was being served I had told Mama I would take a cab to the house; there was no need to send someone to fetch me. The taxi driver helped me to the front door with all my goodies. The house was quiet. I opened the front door and gaily called out, “Hi, everybody! I’m home!” My eyes swept the high ceilinged living room and quickly accessed the mood. Mercy. Every guest was sitting quietly…politely…ram rod straight. I turned to my little brother and sister and murmured their orders. They understood the tragedy of a flat party and the importance of their chores. Within minutes we had salsa playing, both blenders whirred away offering up a frosty concoction to the waiting crystal goblets which were whisked out of the kitchen and served to the waiting guests. My brother Tommy, sister Pamela and I happily buzzed about the kitchen mixing batch after batch of rum drinks while enjoying the laughter, cocktail chatter and music from the rest of the house. We all had a delightful time. The following day the weather was glorious, the bride was beautiful and glowing and the wedding was exquisite. We had done our jobs and done them well. All these years later I wish you a happy anniversary, Cynthia and Wash!
If you’ve never tried making this cocktail at home you must. This pina colada may be served over ice or with the ice blended in as with a “slushy”. Either way you’ll find, unlike many mixed and served in bars, hotels and restaurants, it’s not too sweet and much lighter than the aforementioned drinks. It is best mixed in your largest pitcher or an empty plastic gallon jug then chilled. If you plan on serving the iced “slushy” version, pack your blender half full of ice, pour in the already mixed drink then blend until liquified. This recipe doubles or triples well. Your cocktail will also inspire tropical trade winds when garnished with fresh pineapple spear. But beware. They go down quite easily!
- the juice of 1/2 lime
- 1 cup (8 ounces) cream of coconut
- 2 cups golden rum
- 4 cups pineapple juice, canned is fine
- Mix all the ingredients thoroughly in a large pitcher and set in the refrigerator to chill until serving.
- Just before serving mix again then pour over ice or pour into blender half packed with ice and blend until liquified.
- Serve immediately.
I may be wrong, I usually am even though I pretend I’m not, but with the temperature already creeping into the very high 80’s I think summer may have just hit south Florida! It’s a good thing and it’s a bad thing. Thankfully, we have ocean breezes and central AC. I hadn’t quite noticed that the heat was upon us but when Jimmy pulled out his bathing suit, rummaged around on his tobacco table for the perfect Sunday cigar and headed out to the pool for the second day in a row it dawned on me. Time to start REALLY working out again and, by the way, a bikini wax wouldn’t hurt. I got my suit on, slung my towel over my shoulder and joined him. Let me make myself clear. It’s not really MY towel. When I get in the pool I only take the towels in James’ closet…the boy’s towels. Let THEM get bleached out by chlorine or get dirt on them. Any way, the pool looked, well, not quite party ready. And the water was still too cold. I stood on the bench seat in the deep end and I wasn’t happy. I could feel myself getting crabby and peevish. I hate it when I get that way; I feel it coming and sometimes I can head it off and sometimes I can’t but today is my complete day off and, dammit, the pool looks like shit. There. I said it. I just stood there watching tiny, brown Royal Poinciana leaves slowly drift by as Jimmy was cleaning the pool, happily puffing away on his cigar, and I thought, “No. I don’t want to waste my day being bitchy and frustrated and stupid. There’s GOT to be something I can do to ward this off.” And that’s when Jimmy said, still cleaning the pool, completely unaware that there was a potential hissy fit a brewin’, “Man, I’d do anything for one of those bullfrog drinks right now.” I perked right up at the idea of outside day drinking. “Now you’re talkin’.”, I thought happily drying off thinking, “There’s GOT to be something frozen in that house I can blend with rum”. Task designed and assigned I headed off to the kitchen to see what we had. I knew we had a handle of Bacardi Lemon Rum living under the bar but what to flavor it? I tore through the freezer past the now brick-like Tsoureki bread, moving aside the broad beans, the broccoli, the yuca. Geez, there’s GOT to be something in here. My hands, now blue with cold, raked through the bottom drawer looking for that peach or strawberry canned drink mix that I knew in my heart of hearts was long gone. “Damn,” I muttered to no one, “Disappointed!”, I yelled fully aware that only the dog would witness my tantrum. But, wait. What’s that acidy yellow plastic corner peeping out? Well, well, well. There is a God after all and He has given me a frozen solid pack of pure Lulo puree! For those of you who are not familiar with the magic of Lulo it’s a fruit from Colombia that imparts a lemony, citrus taste with a pineapple sidecar finish. I am happy now! In the blender I combined half of a 14-ounce pack of frozen Lulo pulp with too much of the lemon rum, probably a cup and a half. I get carried away so pour the rum as you see fit. I added a bit of sugar as the fruit is unsweetened and packed the blender with ice. After 60 seconds or so on “liquify” it was perfect. Smoother than a slushy from 7-11. I tasted it. Nooooo! It was too raw and sharp. This frozen mess needed something…anything. I had some far gone bananas for my smoothies but, no, THAT’S NOT WHAT I WANT. Wait, wait! There are half a dozen very tired strawberries killing time in the refrigerator until someone throws them out. Perfect! I tossed them in after lopping off their tops, added a few more ice cubes and some sugar and a star was born! After another 45 seconds swirling through the blender I ended up with a gorgeous, incredibly smooth, not too tart-not too sweet summer drink. I closed my eyes and savored the icy perfection slide down my throat. The afternoon was saved! So get to the grocery store and stock up not on the drink mixes in the can but frozen packets of fruit pulp. The hispanic section will have a treasure trove of flavors so have a party and experiment. Even if it’s only the two of you! Guaranteed fun and you’ll be nice to the world.