MERIDEN — One way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month is to enjoy the sweet and creamy pineapple-coconut drink which originated in Puerto Rico — piña colada.
The month-long observance of Hispanic Heritage Month commenced on Sept. 15 and ends Oct. 15. Throughout the month, the culture and history of those from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America is celebrated with food, drinks and music.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, local businesses shared the process of making the piña colada, and how it brings a taste of Puerto Rico to Meriden.
The piña colada originated in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and there are three different versions of who exactly invented the popular drink. According to Discover Puerto Rico, two bartenders from Caribe Hilton Hotel and one from Barrachina claim to have crafted the tropical drink.
The drink consists of pineapple juice, coconut cream, rum and ice to have that frozen consistency.
At Paradise Frappé, 612 E Main St., piña coladas are served all year round, bringing a taste of Puerto Rico to locals.
“I always have people telling me that it reminds them of home,” owner Lillian Matias said. “Every time I go visit Puerto Rico, I have to stop and buy a piña colada.”
The business sells three types of piña coladas: traditional, mango and strawberry.
To make the tropical drink, Matias premakes a bag filled with a mixture of pineapple juice and coconut cream. To order, she fills the blender with the mixture, adding ice. For the strawberry and mango version, Matias adds frozen strawberries and mango.
“We make them non-alcoholic here,” she said. “But usually, people add rum to the drink.”
After blending the ingredients, Matias serves it with whipped cream and a piece of pineapple.
At Mojitos Sports Bar & Grill, located at 190 Camp St., traditional, strawberry, mango and passionfruit piña coladas are prepared for customers.
Owner Rosa Valle explained how Mojitos serves the drink alcoholic and non-alcoholic style.
“For the alcoholic version, we put it in a machine to keep it frozen,” she said. “We probably do a fresh batch every week and then put it in there.”
Valle explained that since the alcohol can make the frozen drink liquidy, she keeps it in a machine to maintain the consistency. The non-alcoholic version is made to order in a blender. Both versions of the drink get whipped cream and cherries on top.
“I grew up drinking piña coladas and limber (a popular frozen treat),” Valle said.
“It’s such a refreshing drink and it’s one of our popular drinks here at Mojitos,” she said of piña coladas.
El Rincon Latino, at 81 W Main St., also sells the tropical drink. The restaurant makes it from scratch, and it’s one of their most popular beverages.