If you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain — but you don’t want the alcohol — a virgin pina colada can still send you to the tropics with just one sip. The trick to a velvety smooth drink is choosing the correct fruit liquids and kicking it up a notch with a splash of extract.
Cream of Coconut
The secret to a creamy pina colada is using true cream of coconut, the liquid obtained by heavy-pressing the fresh, mature coconut meat. It is a thick, viscous, sweetened cream that does not contain water. Do not use coconut cream or coconut milk, which comes from boiling the meat in water, or coconut water, which comes from the liquid in the middle of the coconut. If the finished drink is too thick, add a splash of coconut cream or milk, but don’t substitute the cream of coconut with these thinner options.
For the truest pineapple flavor, puree a very ripe pineapple with a little water. Or use canned or frozen concentrate pineapple juice. Plan to use three parts pineapple juice to one part cream of coconut.
Replace the Rum
Without the rum in a true pina colada, a non-alcoholic version needs some watering down, because the cream of coconut is very thick. Add three parts apple juice with a splash of vanilla extract or rum extract to replace the alcohol. Blend the cream of coconut, pineapple and apple juices, extracts and some crushed ice in a blender until smooth.
References and ResourcesEsquire.com: Pina Colada
The Kitchn: What's the Difference: Coconut Milk vs. Cream
Cooking Light: Pina Colada: Recipe Makeover