Feel free to do your own research, but let's not argue semantics when booze and tropical fruits are at stake. Aside from an island locale like Puerto Rico or Hawaii, there are few finer places to drink a Piña Colada than in Southern California (sorry Florida). So, if you find yourself in a tropical mood today — or any time this summer — here's six great bars where you can sample this pineapple-coconut delight.
6. Big Bar at Alcove: Mo Chi Chi
The Chi Chi is the non-rum drinker's answer to the Piña Colada. Vodka subs for the sugarcane spirit, making for a lighter, brighter drink. Former Big Bar manager Dan Long came up with this for last year's Art Beyond the Glass
event and managed (thank you!) to put it on the menu before he left. The combination of house-infused coconut vodka, pineapple juice, Amontillado sherry and lime create a slightly sweet, slightly zingy tropical sipper, while the toasted coconut echoes the nuttiness of the sherry. 1929 Hillhurst Ave., Los Feliz; 323-644-0100.
5. 320 Main: Mexican Morphine
Jason Schiffer is known for mixing up classics more than a little bit. His Genever Lemon Drop puts a spin on the girlie classic and, for summer, his Mexican Morphine (mezcal, pineapple juice, lime and orange juices, cream of coconut, Old Fashioned bitters) uses mezcal to create a Piña Colada/Painkiller love child, complete with flaming lime shell (sugar cube and Lemon Hart 151 rum concealed inside). "When we juice limes for the night we save a few extra expressed lime shells for our Mai Tai's and the Mexican Morphine," says Schiffer. "We float the lime shell on top of the drink, placing a sugar cube inside the shell. We then soak that cube with a little Lemon Hart 151 and light it! The sugar cube feeds the fire so she'll burn longer. When the drink arrives, we drop a pinch of cinnamon on the flame and everybody ooohs and ahhhs." Schiffer offers the reminder that, lest you get too enthusiastic about the presentation, please don't drink the lime shell. 320 Main St., Seal Beach; 562-799-6246.
4. Warwick: La Piña Colada Gigante
Feeling the need to share a loving cup-size Piña Colada with your summer sweetie? Along with their beach party transformation for the season, Warwick has two bartenders who like to play with drinks. Witness Damian Windsor and Jason Bran's Frankenstein-ish La Piña Colada Gigante, which uses Caña Brava rum (created in the classic Carta Blanca, Cuban-style) plus fresh pineapple juice and housemade coconut cream. Served in a hollowed-out pineapple shell, these babies go fast so when they're gone for the evening, they are gone, baby, gone. 6570 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; 323-460-6667.
The Piña Colada is the national drink of Puerto Rico, where the name means "strained pineapple." While several bartenders claim ownership of the drink's creation, it can most likely be traced back to the 1948 invention of Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut (emulsifiers and all) in Puerto Rico, which meshes nicely with claims that the drink itself was born at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan in 1952.