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Giuseppe Gonzalez

Features

IF YOU LIKE PIÑA COLADAS – THE END

June 27, 2010

Getting To Frozen Drink Perfection
By Richard Boccato and Giuseppe Gonzalez of Painkiller, NYC

WHAT WE KNOW NOW WE’D LIKE TO SHARE IT WITH YOU

Presently, we would argue that the most popular incarnation of the Piña Colada usually is made with cream of coconut. Out of the combination of sheer boredom and a quest for personal enlightenment, we have personally tried to replicate every recipe that we have found for the Piña Colada. All of our efforts to recreate these “classic” drinks were made with silver rum and freshly extracted pineapple juice. We prepared them in blenders and served them frozen (although this detail is never specified in writing in the “classic” recipes). As stated earlier, the main difference (and the only one that ultimately matters) in the preparation of the Cuban variation of these rum and pineapple cocktails versus the Puerto Rican style is the use of coconut.

Through years of previous experience making cocktails we have discovered that drinks that have higher water content also need to be sweeter than a drink that is prepared with less dilution and without the assistance of ice in the vessel it is served in. Therefore, frozen cocktails like the Piña Colada have a relatively large amount of water with respect to a Daiquiri that is shaken and served up. From our experience thus far at Painkiller, we are fairly certain that it is safe to say that our frozen drinks have unusually high water content.

We will also say that it was concluded definitively in our opinion that due to the sweetness in cream of coconut that the “Puerto Rican” or “1954” Pina Colada is most likely the version of the drink that we all consider the prototype. All Cuban-style Pina Coladas that we prepared with coconut milk and/or coconut water were either too diluted or too bland.

Consumed on its own, cream of coconut is horribly sweet and difficult to work with in shaken drinks due to the density it adds (even more so in stirred cocktails). In frozen cocktails, qualities that are detrimental to shaken drinks like viscosity and sweetness become beneficial. The higher water content in Piña Coladas is brought into balance by the richness and sweetness of the cream of coconut. The addition of fresh pineapple and its high starch content bring the lighter alcohol and the highly dense cream of coconut into harmony within the cocktail. Let us continue on to the preparation of our own Piña Colada.

Preparation

At Painkiller, we prepare our Piña Colada by combining the following ingredients in a blender: Continue Reading…

Features

IF YOU LIKE PINA COLADAS – PART TWO

June 25, 2010

The Lore, the Legend, The Piña Colada
By Richard Boccato and Giuseppe Gonzalez of Painkiller, NYC

Like all great drinks, there are stories regarding the origins of the Piña Colada that are as rich and complex as its consistency. The thousands of myths and legends that are culled from the pantheon of cocktail folklore invariably fall somewhere between fact and fiction. With that in mind, we humbly submit the following thesis for your consideration.

Before we begin, we would like to acknowledge George Sinclair at www.thinkingbartender.com for his exhaustive research on the subject of the Piña Colada. We are fortunate to have access to this information and we could not justify our hypothesis without referencing Mr. Sinclair’s contributions.

By many accounts, the earliest mention of this cocktail dates back to the 1800‘s, when a Puerto Rican pirate by the name of Roberto Cofresi favored a drink with white rum, coconut milk and pineapple. It is almost futile to debate what his white rum may or may not have tasted like, the difficulties of juicing fresh pineapples in the 1800’s, or the fact that there is no written recipe for his “cocktail”. Cofresi died in 1825, and for all intents and purposes so did the story of his prototype for what we now call the Piña Colada. For the sake of argument, we will agree that a Piña Colada is simply rum, some form of coconut (we will explain why this matters later), and pineapple.

There are references to a drink called the “Piña Fria” (cold pineapple) in 1910. In an excerpt from “IN CUBA AND JAMAICA” by H. G. de Lisser, the author states that:

“You ask for “Piña Fria, and he takes a pineapple and peels it and cuts it into large chunks and pounds it up with white sugar and ice and water, and hands the concoction to you in a huge, thick tumbler, and you find it delicious.”

In essence, this appears to be a pineapple Daiquiri of sorts but the fruit is muddled, Caipirinha style. The argument could clearly be made that this is indeed the predecessor to the Piña Colada; however we believe that such an argument literally does not hold enough (coconut) water to be plausible. Furthermore, this cocktail is not “blended” or “frozen”. Commercial blenders were not highly prevalent in bars during the early 20th century since the device was invented in 1922 (the famous Waring blender did not arrive on the market until 1935). More importantly, a Piña Colada when translated into English means “strained pineapple.” This is not a reference to the juice itself but instead an indication of how the drink is supposed to be served. In Spanish, a more enlightening translation would be “strained/cored-out pineapple.” Therefore, a Piña Colada served in anything other than a cored pineapple is (technically) not a Piña Colada. Recipe references would do best not to omit such an obvious fact as the vessel that a drink should be served in when that information is specifically stated in the cocktail’s name.

In 1922, TRAVEL magazine mentions a cocktail of Cuban origin called the Piña Colada:

“But best of all is a Piña colada, the juice of a perfectly ripe pineapple — a delicious drink in itself — rapidly shaken up with ice, sugar, lime and Bacardi rum in delicate proportions. What could be more luscious, more mellow and more fragrant?”

Like the earlier “Piña Fria”, once again here we find no mention of coconut in any form. This is also a pineapple “Daiquiri”, and it was quite possibly served in a pineapple. It is around this time that the roots take shape for what we now consider to be the true forefather of the modern Piña Colada.

In 1926, there is mention of a cocktail called the “Pineapple Crush” Continue Reading…

Features

IF YOU LIKE PINA COLADAS

June 22, 2010

An Unabashed Love Affair With A Frothy Coconut Concoction
By Richard Boccato and Giuseppe Gonzalez of Painkiller, NYC


ODE TO THE DRINK

At Painkiller (www.painkillernyc.com), the Piña Colada is a drink that we hold very close to our hearts for myriad reasons. Suffice to say that cannot hide our reverence, our lack of objectivity, and quite honestly–our unalloyed affinity for this cocktail. Our love affair with the Piña Colada began long before we began our respective journeys behind the bar, but we can say with confidence that we were inspired to rediscover this frozen treasure when Giuseppe was invited to participate in the Grand Marnier/Navan “On the Fly” competition at the 2009 Tales of the Cocktail conference in New Orleans. The rules were simple: present the judges with a cocktail using the ingredients provided. Each contestant was presented with a secret grab bag of sorts, whose contents were handpicked by Jeffrey Morgenthaler. To most experienced bartenders this competition would have been a walk in the park had their grab bag contained the familiar lineup of ingredients that they work with on a daily basis at their respective bars.

Giuseppe reached into his bag and found that he didn’t have much to work with at all. He held in his hand a container of Funkin Piña Colada mix. That’s right, Piña Colada mix. This was going to be an arduous task to say the least–and the clock was ticking. He realized that if he was going to make an impression on the judges, he would have to go back to his roots. Cutty Sark and coconut water is a beloved combination on the island of Puerto Rico, where Giuseppe was raised. With his inspiration in mind, he prepared what would become the winning cocktail, a Scotch Piña Colada. Dale Degroff smiled when Giuseppe told him, “If I didn’t use the Piña Colada mix, my grandfather would have been very disappointed.”

Despite Herculean efforts by the champions of our industry to herald and preserve the classic cocktail, many of us have grown weary of seeing these drinks made poorly by those who would take shortcuts by using inferior ingredients and mediocre techniques. The rediscovery and advancement of some of the methods used to master the service of pre and post-Prohibition era classics have opened our eyes to the fact that it is imperative that we revisit the past in order to improve our collective future behind the bar. That having been said, it would appear that we are now respectfully looking beyond the punch bowls and coupes of the saloons and speakeasies, where we cut our teeth, and looking towards the sandy shores Continue Reading…

Events

THE GOURMET LATINO FESTIVAL

May 22, 2010

A first for the socially and taste conscious
By Darren Atkins

New York is no stranger to a festival. There is the German festival, the Italian festival, the Greek festival; even Gay and Earth Day festivals. However, the Gourmet Latino Festival (www.gourmetlatinofestival.com) at The Astor Center in New York City (www.astorcenternyc.com), June 4-12, is the first of its kind. Emphasizing the spirit of the Latin people and their zest for life, culture and history, the festival celebrates this spirit through an exploration of Latin gastronomy and a social awareness of Latino food production. Throughout the week innovative Latin chefs, mixologists and taste masters will showcase their talents through the flavors and culture of Latin America and delve into the flavors and passions that have helped shape a community.

Gourmet Latino festival director Karen Uribe says, “At this festival, there will be many different events from grand tastings, to seminars and talks, all of which are about celebrating Latin culture and really trying to get people to see the diversity and different nuances from countries including Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay.”

The cuisines of these countries will shared through the talents of many Latin culinary experts who are lead by Chef Aaron Sanchez Chef/Owner of Centrico and Paladar restaurants in New York, and Steve Olson, beverage expert, savant and principle in the firm aka Wine Geek. Sanchez, who grew up in the kitchen of his mother, Zarela Martinez, recognized as the foremost pioneer for introducing and promoting Mexican food to North Americans, couldn’t help but appreciate the need his fellow New Yorkers to have a clearer understanding of Latin food. He comments, “Finally the time has come, where I think enough chefs are creating distinctive styles of their food, for us to create an event that’s just not some homogenized regurgitation of food that’s been done and done before.”

Distinctive Latin spirits and beverages are also on the menu as featured mixologists Junior Merino, Giuseppe Gonzalez and Andrew Seymour will be showcasing spirits and wines that have been preserved in Latino tradition. Sanchez continues, “You can’t have food without a great spirit or wine, Continue Reading…