If you’ve seen pineapples waving their spiky fronds with joy lately, there’s a good reason.
Tropical, golden and ever-delicious, the fruit is in the limelight this season. It’s making statements in both the ephemeral world of fashion and the infinitely more permanent realm of tattoos. Its most exciting appearances, however, are at cocktail bars across the country.
The alluring fruit has established itself as a stalwart ingredient in tropical recipes like the Piña Colada and the Sex on the Beach—and it’s even the inanimate mascot of the hospitality industry. Now, the pineapple is finally getting the craft-cocktail treatment it deserves. Paired with everything from rye whiskey and gin to Green Chartreuse and sherry, this funky fruit is summer’s golden ticket to boozy bliss.
Rum is the spirit most often associated with pineapples, thanks to both ingredients’ tiki ties. But even if the rum and pineapple juice pairing verges on being played out, Plantation Pineapple Rum’s recently released Stiggins Fancy appeals to its playful side. The ultra-sippable rum made by master blender Alexandre Gabriel in conjunction with spirits historian David Wondrich is infused with Victorian pineapples, giving it a seamless flavor that’s mildly sweet and tropical. Imagine that in an Old Fashioned.
Next up: Pineapple’s surprising love affair with rye whiskey. While rum plays to the fruit’s sweet side, rye’s spiciness complements the tartness of pineapple. Justin Oliver’s Bumboat, served at San Francisco’s Smuggler’s Cove, takes on both spirits, blending rye and light rum with a hefty measure of pineapple juice and cinnamon syrup, almond extract and chamomile buds. But if spices and nuts aren’t your jam, the Maryum’s Grass Skirt on the menu at Chicago’s Atwood Restaurant may be more your style. This cocktail, dreamt up by bartender Noreen Ryan, also combines rum, rye and pineapple, but with a brighter blend of rosehip liqueur, Peychaud’s bitters, brandied cherry juice and mint.
This golden ticket’s magical powers extend far beyond rum and rye. Vodka has been inspiring pineapple cocktailing from the East to West Coasts. The Al Pachilli, created by Mike Mammoliti for his new New York bar Mamo, combines berry-flavored vodka with pineapple, passion fruit and chile liqueur, a fantastic blend of sweet and spicy. If you fancy sour flavors, head West to get a taste of the Twist My Arm(agnac), Brian Means’ simple take on vodka, Armagnac and pineapple with simple syrup and lemon juice for his bar Dirty Habit. Looks like a Whiskey Sour, but tastes like oh, so much more.
For some, the humble rocks glass may not make the right statement, so how about the Elyx Pineapple, a blend of—you guessed it—Elyx Vodka, pineapple puree, Oloroso sherry, rosemary syrup and salted caramel syrup, housed in an ultra-flashy copper container shaped like a (surprise!) pineapple?
Sherry makes yet another appearance on the menu at Chicago’s Sable Kitchen & Bar. Mixologist Jessica Lambert blends fresh pineapple juice with two types of sherry, East Indian and Amontillado, to get the 606 Swizzle. That pineapple really gets around.
Of course, no list of summer drinks would be complete without the herbaceous likes of gin. The Snake Bit Sprout from Kenny Freeman of Houston’s Julep blends gin, pineapple juice, lime and apple cider for the perfect end-of-summer intro to autumn—but not before you take a vacation to Piha, New Zealand, which is known for its surfing and, at The Musket Room in New York, for inspiring the Piha Spritz. There may not be a true cure for wanderlust, but this mix of plum gin, rooibos syrup, pineapple juice and sparkling rosé comes close.
Think of yourself as a pineapple traditionalist? Choose-Your-Own-Base-Spirit Piña Colada—really. The Nightingale Room in Houston gives the choice of classic rum or, if you get the itch, Green Chartreuse (gasp!), Campari (oh my!) or—brace yourself—mezcal.