With the cold chill of winter upon us, I often think back to the summer and the warm weather it brings. I mostly dream of warm island beaches, laying in a hammock and sipping on some island drink. One of the most famous beach drinks is a piña colada, and while I'm sure you've probably enjoyed one at least once in your life, I doubt you know exactly what goes into this drink. So, here is what's in a piña colada and how you make it on your own, plus a few fun variations to keep the summer alive in your heart.

What's in a Piña Colada?

Pina Colada photo by Garett Mizunaka (@garett3) on Unsplash

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While there are different variations of the classic piña colada, they all typically have the same three ingredients: pineapple, coconut, and rum. The variations of this drink change the amounts and the way that each of these ingredients are included. If you're going for a smoothie, the pineapple should be frozen then blended with rum and coconut juice. If you're going for a true cocktail, then you should use pineapple juice instead. 

Another way to changes things up is to use a different kind of rum. Many recipes recommend using a white or light rum, both for color and for a lighter flavor as well. You can also add garnishes to your finished drink. Common garnishes include pineapple slices and maraschino cherries, but you can add any complementary garnish you want. 

What Does It Taste Like?

I've only had one type of piña colada, and it was the smoothie type, so naturally it was very cold. It tasted sour at first from the pineapple, but it got sweeter once the rum and coconut kicked in. Overall, it tasted like coconut and pineapple, with the gentle warmth of the rum. 

That being said, how you make it will make it taste differently. If you aren't a fan of coconut, only add a splash of coconut cream with more pineapple juice and rum to balance it out. If you're still underage, omit the rum and add brown sugar to keep the rich taste. You can always change what's in a piña colada to find a recipe that is suitable for your tastebuds.

Where Can I Find One?

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Denise Uy

Unfortunately, most of the bars that sell piña coladas are on a beach. Bars in the city tend not to sell tropical drinks, although they might serve a twist on a piña colada (such as adding strawberries or another fruit that is more accessible to that area). Bars with beach themed night would be your best bet to find an honest piña colada in the city.

For the students at NC State, Smoothie U sells a piña colada smoothie. It's made with bananas, pineapples, mangoes, and coconut syrup. No alcohol, of course, but it'll still give you the same island escape in between your classes. Port City Java also offers a "Mango! Mango!" smoothie, which is perfect if you want to try a piña colada without the coconut.