During a recent visit to New Orleans, I had the opportunity to visit one of the city’s best bars – The Empire Bar at Broussard’s where I was able to enjoy the amazing cocktails from bartender Paul Gustings. In addition to sampling his classic concoctions, Paul shared a recipe for a Piña Colada. Recently I tried out the recipe and am ready to share my impression and share best tips.

This cocktail is not for the faint of heart – it has many steps and makes a very large amount. The amounts listed below are ideal for a party of 10-15. If you are ready to take on the challenge, read on…..

NOLA Piña Colada

1          Pineapple (medium)
6oz      Water
8oz      White sugar
2oz      Brown sugar
8oz      Champagne (I recommend using brut)
32oz    Coconut flakes
32oz    Half and half
Bottle of white wine (I recommend a sweet riesling)
Bottle of gold rum
Two medium and one large cylindrical, clear plastic containers (at least 2 & 3 quarts respectively)

Directions:

This cocktail is made in two stages – in the first stage, you’ll create pineapple and coconut mixes that need to be infused for 7 days. Below are the steps for the pineapple and coconut infusions that should be prepared 7 days before you’d like to enjoy this cocktail.

Pineapple Infusion:
  1. Make simple syrup by mixing water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
  2. Peel, core and rinse pineapple. Take rinsed pineapple and cut into thick slices.
  3. Take brown sugar and cover each slice with a thin layer of sugar.
  4. Place pineapple slices in medium plastic container and add the simple syrup, bottle of white wine and champagne. Mix well and refrigerate for 7 days.

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Coconut Infusion:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325°F.
  2. Place coconut on a baking sheet in a thin layer.
  3. Toast for 5-10 minutes until golden brown. (remember to keep and eye on the coconut to prevent burning)
  4. Place toasted coconut in a medium plastic container and add half and half. Mix well and refrigerate for 7 days.

After seven days you’ll be ready to make the cocktail using the directions below.

Making the Cocktail:
  1. Using a large strainer, strain the pineapple infusion and set aside. Save the pineapple slices to use as garnish.
  2. Strain the coconut infusion. Make sure to press down on the soaked coconut flakes to release the infusion.
  3. Place the pineapple and coconut infusion in the large container and add a bottle of rum. Mix well and serve in a cold glass.

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Tips & Recommendations

  1. The recipe calls for a bottle of rum but it may be better if you add a smaller amount of rum, mix and taste. This way you can calibrate how strong the drink will be.
  2. Make sure you have enough utensils and containers. I ran into a slight problem when I was straining the infusions because I needed a temporary place to hold the strained infusions.
  3. My kitchen is small and at times I had a hard time finding places to set aside ingredients. If you have a large kitchen you will not run into this problem but if you do try to clear as much space as possible.
  4. You can refrigerate the Piña Colada mixture for up to a week. Make sure to still well whenever you are preparing a cocktail.

The Verdict:

The NOLA Piña Colada is sweet, strong, complex and surprisingly refreshing. It’s the kind of drink that reveals each flavor at different times – make sure to enjoy each sip of this cocktail. Although it is a little complicated to make, this is a great recipe for a casual, summer party.