a colada

What is a Colada? – Essential Guide

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If you love Pina Colada then this guide is just for you! The exact meaning of colada seems to be elusive to many people since there are several drinks out there that technically aren’t supposed to be called “colada”.

What is a colada? A traditional colada is any cocktail that contains a combination of rum, coconut cream, and fruit puree made from pineapple, mangoes, and more. While there are many variations of a colada, these three ingredients need to be present for the drink to be called a colada.

Read below to learn more about colada, how it is made, its multiple variants, and how to push the boundaries of a simple colada!

What is a Colada?

Coladas are considered to be magic since they can transport your body to the Caribbean! The most famous version of this drink, Pina Colada, was first created in the 1950s by a hotel bartender, named Ramón “Monchito” Marrero, in Puerto Rico.

Back then every hotel had a signature drink that made them special. In fact, some people took the quality of the bar and the available drink options into consideration when looking for a place to stay in Puerto Rico.

Due to stagnancy in the hotel business, Marrero was tasked to create a signature drink for the Caribe Hilton Hotel in San Juan. This was not an easy task since there were already plenty of popular beverages in the area but Marrero decided to take on the task either way.

It took him some time but after a lot of experimentation and failure, he came up with a combination of fresh coconut cream, rum, and a smooth puree of pineapple – all of these ingredients were already present in abundance in the region. 

Thus, the Pina Colada was born! The drink gained popularity fairly quickly and was touted as the best beverage in the region. After a few years, it was even named the national drink of the small island! Today, pina colada is available across the world and is also part of pop culture too.

So, how is pina colada made? Here is a traditional recipe for a Pina Colada.

Pina Colada


  • White rum – 2 ounces (any high-quality white rum will do)
  • Fresh pineapple juice – 2 ounces
  • Fresh pineapple cream – 2 ounces
  • Crushed ice – 1 cup
  • A small but juicy pineapple wedge for garnish. You can also use a cherry.


Step 1) In a blender, add the rum, pineapple juice, coconut cream, and ice.

Step 2) Blend the ingredients until fully incorporated or until you see froth.

Step 3) Pour the blended mixture into a tall glass.

Step 4) Garnish the drink (if needed) and serve!

Characteristics of Colada

If you have never tried a colada, then here is what you can expect from this iconic beverage:


Pina Colada, the most famous version of this beverage is known for its tropical flavor. The coconut cream and pineapple juice truly shine through, giving this beverage a slightly sweet and mellow flavor! Pina Colada is perhaps one of the most balanced alcoholic beverages despite its simplicity. 

It is important to note, however, that colada can be made in several ways and with multiple ingredients which can have a significant impact on the flavor. But in most cases, this beverage will always provide a distinct coconut flavor due to the addition of coconut cream.


Pina Colada has a frothy and lightly thick texture. It is not as thick as a milkshake, despite it being made from coconut cream or milk, but it provides a fuller mouthfeel than other beverages. The texture of this beverage is one of the reasons why it is so beloved as well! 

a colada

It gives the sensation of drinking something rich and smooth without it being too overpowering. It is also possible to detect small pineapple chunks in this beverage, especially if it is made from real pineapple pieces instead of juice. 

Just like in the case of its flavor, depending on how this beverage is made, you can expect it to have a range of textures. For example, a banana colada (more on this below) will have a creamier texture than a pina colada made from pineapple juice.

Variations of Colada 

There are plenty of variations of colada that use different types of fruit as a base for the flavor. Here are several variations of colada:

Banana Colada 

Instead of being made from pineapples, this version is made from bananas. 

Bananas work very well in a colada as it provides the same tropical flavor – it also boosts the nutrition of the beverage as well! Banana colada is made in the same way as a regular Pina Colada. 

Combine 2 ounces of white rum, coconut cream, and banana puree. Blend with 1 cup of crushed ice and enjoy this delicious beverage with a small cherry or a sliced banana. 

Mango Colada

Mango colada is a favorite for many people because this beverage tastes more like a dessert than anything else. With this variation, you get the best of both worlds: a kick from the booze and a delicious tropical mango flavor.

Mango colada is made in the same way as pina colada, except you use mango instead of pineapples. Mix 2 ounces of rum, mango puree, coconut cream, and 1 cup of crushed ice. Blend until the mixture is frothy, and enjoy.

Strawberry Colada

Strawberry colada truly takes this beverage to the next level. If you love fruity and berry-flavored drinks then this variation is quickly going to become your new favorite boozy beverage.

The combination of strawberry and coconut cream may sound odd, but trust us, both these ingredients go together extremely well. It also provides a very pleasing mouthfeel compared to a regular Pina Colada. 

Go with the same recipe above for this beverage, and use either strawberry puree or strawberry juice to add flavor. Blend all ingredients until frothy and enjoy with a slice of fresh strawberry.

Blue Hawaiian Colada

Blue Hawaiian colada is an excellent spin on the original colada recipe. It’s also a great way to break away from monotony, especially if you are bored of drinking the same old Pina Colada. 

In addition to white rum, this beverage also features blue curacao, a blue-colored beverage made from the dried peel of the bitter orange laraha. Blue curacao provides a fantastic mix of bitter and sweet oranges which completely elevates the flavor of the beverage.

Perhaps the most alluring thing about this beverage is that it has a deep Caribbean color too – perfect for people on vacations looking for something new!

To make a blue Hawaiian colada, combine 2 ounces of white rum, coconut cream, pineapple juice, and 1 ounce of blue curacao. Blend with 1 cup of crushed ice and pour into a tall glass. Top with a fresh pineapple slice or cherry and enjoy!

Tips for Making the Best Colada

If you are looking to up your colada game then here are a few important tips that can help you make great-tasting colada at home.

Picking Fresh Ingredients 

A drink is only ever as good as the ingredients used to make it. If you are going for commercial ingredients, then we highly recommend that you pick high-quality juices and coconut cream. If you want a more natural and rustic drink, then try using fresh pineapple and coconut cream. 

ingredients for colada

This small change will make a huge difference in not just the flavor but also the texture and mouthfeel of the beverage. 

Blending/Shaking the Ingredients 

Colada can be made either by blending all the ingredients to a smooth consistency, or you can also shake the ingredients for a light and frothy beverage. If you have always enjoyed blended colada then we suggest that you also try this beverage shaken. You can use this method for any colada variations listed above.

Garnishing and Presentation

Picking the right garnishes not only adds presentation but also elevates the characteristics of the drink. For example, a fresh pineapple slice put on the side of the glass doesn’t just serve visual or flavor purposes – but it also adds a whiff of tropical scents that can have a huge impact on the senses. 

In the same way, you can also experiment with other garnishes like a fruit skewer, a cute umbrella, fresh mint, and even toasted coconut flakes!

Related Questions 

Colada is an iconic beverage that can be enjoyed in several ways. Now that you know all the essentials about this delicious boozy beverage, here are a few related questions:

Can You Make a Colada Without Coconut Cream?

Colada can be made without coconut cream since you can also use milk to add texture to the beverage. But it is important to note that every colada recipe has three ingredients in common: white rum, coconut cream/milk, and pineapple. 

While you can replace one or two ingredients to make a variation of a colada, if you change the base recipe (including the rum) then the resulting beverage will not be classified as a true colada.

Is Colada a Healthy Beverage?

Compared to other beverages that don’t contain fruit, a pina colada is considered to be a healthier cocktail. Pineapple and coconut milk have health benefits but it is important to note that Colada usually contains a lot of sugar. So, it’s important to consume this beverage in moderation or according to your dietary needs.

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