A piña colada is not the first cocktail you think of in New York, but when made right it’s one of the world’s great drinks. Here are the seven spots that make the best in New York:
2. Suffolk Arms
269 E. Houston St., at Suffolk St.; 212-475-0400
One way to upgrade almost any piña colada: Add a floater, maybe some overproof rum or a nice liqueur. Or, in the case of the so-named Improved Piña Colada at this Lower East Side bar, the bitter Italian aperitivo Campari. It’s weird, but it works. The Campari amplifies the sweetness of the other ingredients — including passion fruit and spiced Sailor Jerry rum — while also cutting through the drink’s richness.
3. 151 Bar
151 Rivington St., nr. Suffolk St.; 212-228-4139
The staff at this charmingly low-slung bar fortify their Classy Fucking Piña Coladas with nutty Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac, making it boozier (of course) while amplifying the musky flavor of the Plantation Overproof dark rum. Pineapple syrup stands in for juice, and there’s both coconut cream and Thai coconut milk. After giving the mix a run through the blender, they top the drink with a shockingly bountiful float of spicy bright-red Angostura bitters. It’s sharp, as it should be, before gently sinking into the drink and becoming a harmonious whole.
27 Broadway, at Dunham Pl., Williamsburg; 646-568-6622
Head bartender Jeremy Oertel once admitted that it would be his head if he dared take the Brancolada off the menu. The “Branc” in the name refers to Branca Menta, the decidedly un-Caribbean, bracingly minty amaro that tastes not unlike fancy mouthwash. But in Donna’s slushie machine, it melds with the Appleton V/X rum and coconut cream to create a delicious drink that’s eerily reminiscent of a tropical riff on mint-chocolate-chip ice cream. Have another.
5. End of the Century Bar
104-08 Metropolitan Ave., nr. 71st Dr., Forest Hills; 718-544-1624
This unassuming Forest Hills bar — founded by vets of top-shelf drinkeries like Dutch Kills, Pegu Club, and PKNY — combines mixological precision with a loose tiki vibe. As such, the piña colada here is balanced, luxuriously creamy, and a true classic of the form.
6. Old Stanley’s
226 Wyckoff Ave, nr. Menahan St., Bushwick; no phone
It’s custardy thick, packs a wallop of rum, is just a little sweet, and sets you back a mere $8. The piña colada at this Bushwick faux dive is also dispensed from somewhere under the bar — a point of origin that becomes even less clear as you get a few more drinks into the night. No matter. The most important thing to know is that it’s also far better — and more consistent — than versions that sell for twice as much in fancier establishments.
7. The Rum House
228 W. 47th St., nr. Broadway; 646-490-6942
Despite this midtown bar’s name, there’s no piña colada on the menu. And if you order one, the bartender will tell you that the drink they serve isn’t really a piña colada at all. Do not be deterred. All it means is that there’s lime in this recipe, and that it’s served in a goblet, poured over four oversize ice cubes. So it’s not a proper piña colada. Yet the drink, with smooth El Dorado rum serving as the base, is excellent — no matter what you want to call it.