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By Inside Columbia
Cocktail052223_241770-min irenes

Photos by L.G. Patterson

irene's cocktail piña coladaWe knew from the start that frozen drinks had to be a part of the bar program at Irene’s. Austin, Texas, was a huge inspiration for us and anyone who has been there knows thatthe frozen cocktail reigns just as high as tattoos, tech startups and barbecue.

But for me, this stemmed from one simple question: “Where in town can you get a good piña colada?” Seriously, it’s one of the most famous cocktails ever (thanks to vacations and Rupert Holmes), yet unavailable for us good folks of mid-Missouri.

That is, until now! We’re real proud of it.

Although not in the name, the most important part of a piña colada is rum. At Irene’s, we couldn’t really settle on one rum. Or two. Or even three. We actually use four rums:

  • Plantation light rum (which we infuse with leftover pineapple cores that the kitchen would usually throw away);
  • Plantation aged rum (which adds those delicious barrel notes of vanilla and caramel);
  • Plantation pineapple rum (which is infused with pineapples before it is distilled and aged — this stuff is awesome); and
  • Uruapan Charanda Blanco rum. (Made
    in Michoacán, Mexico from cane sugar juice and molasses, this ingredient adds a delicious funk with powerful tropical aromas and flavor. Bonus: it’s also very affordable.)

To get that pineapple taste to come through, we use Giffard Caribbean Pineapple Liqueur and Fruitful Pineapple Liqueur, which add the sweetened ripeness of fresh pineapple.

All these spirits are added into a blender with ice and our house made “piña colada mix cubes.” These cubes are made by blending sugar, pineapple and coconut cream, then freezing into an ice mold. This way the blended drink can stay cold and frozen without adding too much ice.

Now, I understand this is a lot to get to for one cocktail, so the accompanying recipe is a simplified version better suited to an evening at home.

Berrick Wahby is the general manager and bar director at Irene’s.

Irene’s Piña Colada (At Home Edition)

Ingredients
  

FOR PIÑA COLADA MIX

  • 1 can unsweetened coconut cream (400 ml)
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 ounces canned pineapple, either sliced of chunked

FOR PIÑA COLADA

  • 2 cups ice
  • 1 cup rum, unspiced
  • 1-2 ounces pineapple liquer (optional)
  • juice of one lime
  • 12 ounces housemade piña colada mix

Instructions
 

  • Start with the piña colada mix by adding sugar and the entire can of coconut cream in a small pot. Over low heat, break up chunks of coconut in the pan to allow it to melt fast.
  • Once completely melted, add sugar to pot and stir until all the sugar is dissolved.
  • Take off heat and add to blender.
  • Strain the juice from the canned pineapple and add the pineapple chunks to the blender. (TIP: Reserve the liquid from the can as you may want to add it back into the blender if the puree is too thick. It also is great in sparkling water.)
  • Blend mixture completely and let chill in fridge until cold. Or pour mixture into 1 ounce ice molds and let freeze. Mixture is good in the freezer for up to one month.
  • To make the piña colada itself, combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth and serve.

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