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Puerto Rico is the home of many specialty drinks and rum cocktail recipes. As the home of rum and the birthplace of the Pina Colada, among other drinks with rum, trying the various cocktails on this list are a fun thing to do in Puerto Rico (although some are not so easy to get year-round). Here are the drinks worth checking out:
The Pina Colada is a sweet cocktail made with rum, cream of coconut, and pineapple juice, usually served either blended or shaken with ice and often garnished with a maraschino cherry. The piña colada is said to have been invented in 1954 by then-bartender Ramon ‘Monchito’ Marrero at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan as a special drink to tempt the glitzy clientele, and has been the official beverage of Puerto Rico since 1978. The Barrachine Restaurant in Old San Juan also claims that they invented it and if you stop by their restaurant on Fortaleza St. You can see their plaque dedicated to the invention of the Pina Colada.
Pitorro is Puerto Rico’s version of Moonshine, and not something that you will easily find. If at all, the best time to find this is during the holiday season by hanging out with some locals. Pitorro is moonshine, or in this case fermented sugar cane or Caña, that has had fruits and spices added to it and then has been cured for months in a dark storage area. Clandestine rum operations are rather uncommon nowadays in Puerto Rico, given the fact that sugar cane production has dwindled in Puerto Rico since the closing of government-owned “centrales” or mills. Nevertheless, it does still happen, and Pitorro is often used in holiday celebrations.
Bili is Rum that has been fermented with the fruit Quenepas, a product of the mamoncillo tree. It is traditionally associated as a drink of Vieques, and it can often be found throughout the summer months when quenepas are in season. Quenepas are added to white rum along with vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon, etc. and then is stored in a dark place for about 1 month. There are many variations on the instructions to make it, we’ve heard storing it in a coconut and burying it in the ground, and arguments for the various spices. Our secret: we use maple syrup! A shot of this goes down real easy – it is very light and sweet.
This is a favorite local shot – 1 part Anise (anisette liquor) and 1 part white rum. If you are a lover of licorice, this is the shot for you! For those who need to break the licorice up a bit, adding lemon and honey do a nice job. These can easily be found at any bar, and are generally about $1-2 per shot.
Besides the Pina Colada, this is Puerto Rico’s most favorite drink, and is in fact our version of Eggnog, but without the egg-y flavor. If you are looking for a traditional holiday drink and are not a fan of eggnog, consider coquito, a coconut based ‘eggnog’. Coquito is made with egg yolks, rum, coconut milk, coconut cream, sweet condensed milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. The drink is commonly associated with the Christmas holidays, where it is traditionally served along with other holiday food. Homemade is the best, but if all else fails, it can be purchased.
Don’t forget to cheers! Salud! …to everyone’s health. What’s your favorite version of Puerto Rico’s cocktail drinks? Let us know in the comments section….
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