For some, a pina colada is more than just a cocktail -- it's a way of life. A key player in Rupert Holmes' song "Escape" and the national beverage of Puerto Rico, the pina colada symbolizes stress-free living as well as quenches a taste for something exotic. But is the pina colada's recipe really so carefree as to handle vodka instead of rum?
Do You Like Pina Coladas?
The pina colada is a deceptively simple drink made with less than a handful of ingredients. Served either frozen or on the rocks, the traditional pina colada gets its flavor from cream of coconut, pineapple juice and white rum. The simplest way to make a pina colada is to fill a glass with ice and then fill it with equal parts of the three ingredients -- just blend the contents on low for 10 to 15 seconds for a frozen one.
A Punch Without Rum
Vodka is like the person at the party that gets along with everyone -- it's a nice, well-mannered liquor. A few of vodka's main strengths are how odorless and tasteless it is and how well it mixes with just about anything. Straight substitution of vodka for rum in a pina colada will leave the drink lacking, though, because vodka doesn't have rum's sweetness. A quick and simple remedy is to add a dash of simple syrup or superfine sugar or a splash of pineapple, ginger or vanilla syrup.
Fancy a Flavored Vodka
Flavored vodkas open up a whole new world of pina coladas. Coconut- or pineapple-flavored vodka lets you cut back on the other ingredients. Vanilla vodka or whipped cream vodka gives the drink a creamier taste, while banana-flavored vodka makes it more tropical. Fruit-flavored vodkas, such as orange, mango or tangerine, tend to work best with the drink's other flavors, but don't be afraid to experiment with other sweet vodkas like chocolate, ginger and even maple syrup.
A'Colada Love Elsewhere
Vodka isn't the only suitable liquor substitute for pina coladas. Sugary liqueurs like amaretto or melon-flavored can easily sub for rum, and distinctive flavors like coffee or chocolate liqueur transform it into a tasty after dinner drink. Another option is to substitute plain white rum with flavored rum, like coconut, orange or vanilla, or to top off a traditional pina colada with a shot of bourbon or cream liqueur, such as creme de almond or creme de cacao.