Fresh Pina Colada without Coconut Cream
We want to make pina coladas at home using fresh pineapple and fresh coconut...does any one have any ideas/tips/recipes? We really want to avoid buying canned coconut cream.
Originally the pina colada didn't even have coconut in it, or rum. It was just strained pineapple juice. Colada means strained. Then it evolved and rum was added to pineapple juice. I think the current version with coconut cream, and sometimes heavy cream, evolved somewhere between 1920 and 1955, there are several people who claim to have invented it, but like several other cocktails, it's hard to determine the truth.
You can make a really nice drink juicing fresh pineapple and using fresh coconut water (or canned), but its not what I consider a pina colada. I've tried it myself and you really need the cream of coconut (and an ounce of heavy cream) to get that proper creaminess I associate with a pina colada, and to stand up to the rum. Fresh coconut water is very refreshing, but pretty mild in taste.
Of course you could make your own coconut cream, but its a bit of a hassle. I tried it a few times and its only marginally better, if that, than a good canned cream of coconut. I like some of the asian brands of coconut cream more so than the coco lopez.
If you make the fresh spin on a pina colada you have to make a pretty weak drink or the coconut gets completely lost. If I remember right I made a tall drink on ice in a Collins glass with around 6-8 oz of coconut water, 1.5 ounces pineapple juice, and 1.5 ounces of premium aged rum. It was light and refreshing, with a much milder take on the usual recipe.
I also tried a version where I used the same proportions but used canned roasted coconut water and an aged rum agricole from Martinique (I can't remember if I used Rhum Clement or Rhum JM) which paired its earthy, muskiness well with the toasted coconut juice. This was even farther from the typical pina colada profile. I never did come up with a name for it.
"Originally the pina colada didn't even have coconut in it, or rum ... but like several other cocktails, it's hard to determine the truth."
I think you might want to read the article on the Pina Colada in "Mixologist: The Journal of the American Cocktail" (see below for the link)--it's a very well-researched piece and answers these questions and more. According to the piece, the original Pina Colada did indeed contain coconut and rum, despite what the direct translation may imply; the piece also documents exactly who invented the drink and when, in case you're interested...
I have the first two volumess of Mixologist. Jared Brown wrote the piece on pina colada's, and he even mentions that he knew of three possible sources in that article. He declares one isn't acceptable, but describes two possibilities. I also have read other conflicting information. This is the case with many cocktails. That piece dates the pina colada to 1954 at the Caribe Hilton and the info is from the hotels press releases or 1960 to a different place, the Barrachina restaurant. But there are several quotes of recipes as early as 1922 to other sources such as Travel magazine December 1922, and April 16, 1950 New York Times.
So, while a lot of info points to the Caribe Hilton, 1954, it isn't necessarily true.
It is a bit of a project , but, if you have a Champion Juicer you can make an unbelievable pina colada. The fresh pineapple juice is the easier part. For the coconut you have to crack and shell the fresh nut. Then put on the blank plastic plate and send it through in the grate mode. Mix the grated pulp with some of the coconut water and send it through again, this time with the strainer. You will get an unbelievable creamy coconut juice. If you go to the trouble, use a full flavored rum such as Gosling Black Seal from Bermuda.
You can use condensed milk. It's just about exactly the same consistency as canned coconut cream, but without the coconut flavor (obviously) so you can add coconut milk or fresh finely minced coconut yourself.