As a pastry chef, sugar is just kind of what I do. Whether it's creamed with butter, spun into sticky clouds of cotton candy, pulled into colorful confections, sprinkled on cupcakes, or burned into a deep caramel, sugar is at the center of my kitchen universe. But at end of another long, hot summer, day in the kitchen, there's only one way I want my sugar - distilled. I'm talking, of course about rum.
Rum is made by fermenting pure sugarcane juice, molasses (a byproduct of the sugar refining process), or a combination of the two and then aging the resulting liquid in oak barrels. Darker, more golden-colored rum are served straight from the cask, and lighter/clear rums are filtered after aging. I like to make use of both in my favorite blender drink of all time - the Pina Colada.
Now, a lot of blender drinks get a bad rap as artificially colored, sugar-laden, hangovers waiting to happen, and for some that's fair. It's true that the average restaurant Pina Colada is an unfortunate affair of canned juice, bottom shelf rum, and a pineapple "parrot" wearing sunglasses, but it doesn't have to be that way, America! By tweaking the classic recipe just a little bit with fresh ingredients and high quality liquor, you too can break out the blender without shame.
My ultimate Pina Colada starts with fresh pineapple cut into approximately 3/4" pieces and then frozen. Spread your pieces out in single layer on a baking sheet to avoid forming one giant frozen clump. I like to use one of my Silpats underneath for easy removal and clean up. Once frozen, your pineapple cubes can be transferred to a plastic bag for storage.
When you're ready for a colada, add pineapple, light rum, and cream of coconut to a blender and puree until thick and smooth. Next, add coconut water to adjust the consistency to your preference, Divide the mixture between glasses and gently float a layer of blackstrap rum over the top. Its deeply caramelized molasses flavor is the perfect foil for the fresh, tangy pineapple and refreshing coconut. Just add your favorite bendy straw and enjoy!
10 oz (~3 cups) fresh pineapple cut into ¾” cubes and frozen
1/3 cup cream of coconut
5 oz light rum (The Chopping Block's new Cana Brava rum from Panama would be perfect in this drink. It's just one of our selections from our new craft spirits program.)
1 ox coconut water
Blackstrap rum to taste
Want to learn how to make more fun summer cocktails? Our Summer Cocktails & Appetizer class pairs summer drinks with light party foods that will have you breaking out the flip flops. You'll learn perfect pairings such as Dark Rum Mojito with Grilled Shrimp and Mango Salsa. Sign up for this cooking class today!