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Piña Verde

Pina Verde cocktail with mint sprig garnish
Image:

Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

If you like Piña Coladas, you might just fall in love with this green-Chartreuse-fueled twist from bar pro Erick Castro. 

The story of the Piña Verde begins more than a decade ago: In the late aughts, Castro began floating the French liqueur green Chartreuse on top of Piña Coladas for an extra boozy element. In 2010, the then-ambassador for Beefeater tried swapping in gin for the usual rum. He ultimately scrapped the spirits altogether to spotlight the high-proof green Chartreuse, which lent the drink herbaceous notes that played well with the creamy coconut. 

Castro added his creation to the menu of his cocktail bar Polite Provisions in San Diego, California, where staff dubbed the drink the “Greenya Colada,” and it became bicoastal when he started serving it at New York City’s (now-shuttered) Boilermaker in 2014; by that bar’s second year, the Piña Verde was a top seller. The drink started appearing on cocktail menus around the country, and the rest is history. 

Of course, the Piña Verde owes its success, in part, to the simple deliciousness of its predecessor. Ramón “Monchito” Marrero Perez most likely invented the original concoction of rum, coconut, and pineapple and lime juices in 1952 at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico, although several other spots in the city lay claim to the drink. Thanks to the cocktail’s tropical nature, it's still often confused with Tiki drinks, and it doesn’t help that by the 1970s it had fallen victim to the disco era, often ending up in extra-large glasses that held overly sweet, premixed slushies. 

Today, craft bartenders are returning the drink to its roots with properly balanced ingredients, and some are opting to swap the traditional blender for shaker tins, including Castro. His rendition takes its cues from the classic while also adding modern twists: The star, of course, is its namesake green Chartreuse. As with the original, pineapple and lime juices add fruity brightness to the mix. Castro’s version slightly dials down the cream of coconut, the secret to a colada’s rich, creamy sweetness, as the Chartreuse lends sweet notes of its own. And in lieu of a pineapple-and-cherry garnish or a tiny umbrella, it gets topped with a fresh mint sprig—all the better to highlight the drink’s herbaceous nature and colorful name.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces green Chartreuse

  • 1 1/2 ounces pineapple juice

  • 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • 3/4 ounce cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez)

  • Garnish: mint sprig

Steps

  1. Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.

  2. Strain into a rocks glass over pebble ice.

  3. Add more pebble ice, if needed, to create a slight mound.

  4. Garnish with a mint sprig.