piña colada

In the first world of first world-liest problems, a problem I would love to be having this very week when I’m shivering again (despite many suggestions of spring on the near horizon) is that when in my life I’ve been lucky enough to decamp to a tropical location for a vacation, and wish to do what one does on tropical vacations — I mean, aside from wearing such buckets of SPF that when I return people comment, “I thought you went to the beach?” — and that is ordering a piña colada. Possibly at a swim-up bar. In a hurricane glass with a tacky paper umbrella in it, a fluorescent maraschino cherry, and a creamy-tart balance that is unfettered vacation bliss with each sip. The problem is that they’re very often…. terrible, tinny and artificially-flavored. I mean, I drink it; I’m not a barbarian. But every time I do (daily, at 4:30pm, please), I vow that when I get home, I’m going to make a real and proper and perfect one to set things right again.

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Well, give or take a couple weeks and half a dozen vacations over a dozen years, I’ve made good on my promise, taking a page from last summer’s frozen watermelon mojitos. I learned while making them that you could forego both the ice that waters down the flavor of the fruit, and the juice, which doesn’t have the intensity I crave, by starting with fresh fruit and freezing it in cubes. It doesn’t take that long and you will not be sad to have a bag of frozen pineapple chunks waiting for you whenever the piña colada craving strikes. While I start with fresh pineapple, don’t worry, I still use classic canned cream of coconut (a sweetened, thicker, syrupy delight that’s to coconut milk almost what sweetened condensed milk is to regular milk) as the second ingredient. I add a little lime juice, because I love it with coconut and pineapple, just enough white rum, and I blend it until it’s creamy and smooth and immediately — even in the cold of a NYC winter — causes a dewy condensation on the outside of the glass. No swim-up bar, no beachy horizon, but I do have a paper palm tree umbrella in my perfect-at-last drink, so I must be doing something right.

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