Once a symbol of wealth and hospitality, the time has come to restore the pineapple to its former glory
By Dean Callan, Monkey Shoulder Global Brand Ambassador

Dean Callan pineapple Dunmore.jpg

Here’s a question for all the bartenders, bar owners, mixologists and cocktail consumers about to descend upon New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail – why don’t we see many pineapples in bars and on cocktail menus anymore? This once prized tropical fruit seems to have disappeared from view. But why is that?

This is a question that has been on my mind for some time now and one that will be answered on the opening day of this year’s Tales of the Cocktail festivities (www.talesofthecocktail.com/events/the-pineapple-a-symbol-of-hospitality/) at our seminar.

We need to restore the pineapple to its former glory. This mission, which we can discuss heartily on Wednesday, can be traced back to a trip I took to New York a few years ago. In search of cocktails, a friend and I had stumbled across Cienfuegos, a wonderfully quirky Cuban rum joint in New York’s East Village.

From an outstanding cocktail list (www.cienfuegosny.com/Cienfuegos.html), I chose the Isle of Manhattan Fizz, a rum and gin punch with coconut, lime, soda and one of my all-time favourite cocktail ingredients – pineapple.

This delicious combination got me wondering why we don’t see many pineapples in bars these days. How did this tropical fruit, once considered a symbol of wealth and hospitality, become so neglected by bartenders?

Not long after that drink was finished pineapples were once again on the topic of conversation – this time with my good friend, Jake Burger (www.talesofthecocktail.com/personality/jake-burger/). Jake shares my passion for pineapples – this is the bartender who created the infamous ‘Penis Enlarger’ cocktail, his take on the classic pineapple-inspired Piña Colada.

The seeds of our Tales of the Cocktail presentation were sown that night as we both agreed to embark upon a mission to bring the pineapple back and restore it to its rightful place as a key cocktail ingredient in bars across the world.

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Our presentation, The Pineapple, a Symbol of Hospitality offers in-depth insight into the amazing history of this curious-looking tropical fruit starting with tracing its origins back hundreds of years to the time it was first discovered growing wild in the Brazilian jungle by tribesmen who used it in variety of ways – from using its fibres for rope to fermenting the fruit to create their very own early alcoholic drinks.

Since then, the pineapple has travelled on an amazing journey. Did you know, for example, that it was first brought back to the Western world by Columbus in the 15th century – and that the sailors on those early voyages were so captivated by pineapples that they used to disappear into the jungle to gorge themselves on them?

For every pineapple that was gobbled up by a sailor hiding in the jungle many more were shipped back to Europe and America. Still, these were precious cargo, greatly valued by their recipients and this rare tropical fruit became a prized symbol of wealth and hospitality. A pineapple on the dining table came to represent status – a theme that became incorporated into other areas such as architecture.

Beyond an architectural explanation for the presence of pineapple imagery Jake and I will be investigating some myths and facts about pineapples. For example, if you’ve ever wondered where the classic combination of cheese and pineapple on a stick comes from – we’ll tell you all about it. Warning: this may involve the use of swords!

The pineapple has also endured a few lows in its journey and we’ll investigate how it gradually slipped from the top of the food chain at the hands of the canned food industry.

Alongside the information about its history, there will be demonstrations too – we’ll show bartenders how to get to know the pineapple and make the best of its flavours and resources. From how to check ripeness and different varieties, to how to core it and how best to mix it with other ingredients, this will be a pineapple master class full of tips and useful information for bartenders.

And of course, we will be creating some classic and new pineapple-inspired cocktails to show how to make the best of its flavours.

I passionately believe it is time to embrace this not-so-humble fruit and the drinks industry can help restore the pineapple to its rightful position as a great cocktail ingredient – come and join us at Tales of Cocktail to find out more and support our mission.

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