The Birthplace of the Piña Colada - Food & Beverage Magazine

The Birthplace of the Piña Colada

The iconic Caribe Hilton opened in 1949 as Hilton’s first hotel outside of the continental U.S. When the government of Puerto Rico put out an open bid to hoteliers wishing to build on the site, Conrad Hilton was the only one who responded in Spanish…the rest is history.

Throughout the years, the beloved mid-century island mainstay was known for its Juliana’s nightclub — an epochal celebrity hang-out where guests and locals alike would gather to catch the hottest entertainment; artists like Julio Iglesias, Gloria Estefan, and Iris Chacon performed there (years before they were famous). Liz Taylor, Sophia Loren, and Barack Obama are also among the hotel’s celebrity guests. ‘Club Caribe’ – the resort’s beach club – drew in locals in droves, while guests from abroad returned year after year, making Caribe a second home. Fun fact: the resort’s most long-time guests have been vacationing there for more than 50 years!

In 1954, Caribe bartender Ramón “Monchito” Marrero created the Piña Colada while attempting to come up with a fun, refreshing, welcome drink for guests. The first Piña Coladas were non-alcoholic and made in a shaker because blenders didn’t yet exist. It wasn’t until years later that Monchito added local rum to his concoction and pioneered the region’s tropical cocktail movement with what’s known as the world’s most popular vacation libation. After serving the Piña Colada for 35 years, in 1978, Monchito’s signature beverage was declared the official drink of Puerto Rico. In 2004, Caribe Hilton was even presented with an official government proclamation in support of the cocktail’s 50th anniversary.

The resort continues to pay homage to its rich history and local culture with unique twists on the Piña Colada that include four modern variations of the classic tropical cocktail, a Piña Colada-inspired treatment at their spa, bartender demos and mixology lessons, and more!

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