20 best Pineapple cocktails

Words by Difford's Guide & Dean Callan

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Pineapples are luxuriant and tropical, their rich fruitiness balanced by an enlivening cutting acidity. Pineapple blends harmoniously with all spirits but are most notably paired with rum in Tiki drinks. With or without a parasol, a simple wedge of pineapple is one of the best-looking garnishes and dried rings are a treat. We're celebrating this fabulous fruit with our 20 best pineapple cocktails.

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With: Rye whiskey, pineapple juice, bianco vermouth and Peychaud's bitters.
We say: Ripe pineapple fruitiness and rye whiskey sit harmoniously together in a Manhattan-like cocktail.

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Bahamas Daiquiri
With: Jamaican rum, coconut liqueur, coffee liqueur, pineapple juice and lime juice
We say: Totally tropical with a sweet tangy edge.

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Bahama Mama
With: Jamaican aged blended rum, overproof rum, coconut rum, coconut liqueurs, coffee liqueur, lemon juice and pineapple juice
We say: The holy trinity of rum, coconut and pineapple served in a well-balanced, not overly sweet Tiki-style cocktail.

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Batida Rosa
With: Soda water, pineapple juice, cachaça, lemon juice and grenadine syrup.
We say: Fruity and tropical. A tall refreshing drink for a hot evening or an afternoon beside the pool.

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Champagne Piña Colada
With: Light rum, agricole rhum blanc, pineapple liqueur, champagne, pineapple juice and coconut sorbet.
We say: Deliciously creamy pineapple and coconut enlivened by champagne with rum notes shining through.

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Chartreuse Swizzle
With: Green Chartreuse, falernum liqueur, pineapple juice and lime juice.
We say: A swizzle for people like me - Chartreuse lovers. Best enjoyed on a hot summer's evening.

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Club Cocktail (Difford's recipe)
With: Cognac, pisco, maraschino liqueur, pineapple juice and creole bitters.
We say: Cognac and pisco brandies with maraschino and pineapple adding fruity tropical freshness and a foamy head.

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French Daiquiri
With: Light rum, black raspberry liqueur, lime juice, pineapple juice and our Daiquiri Bitters.
We say: A classic Daiquiri made fruity with the addition of black raspberry liqueur and pineapple juice.

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East India No.2
With: Cognac, orange curaçao, pineapple juice, pineapple sugar syrup and aromatic bitters.
We say: The bitters play a crucial role in the balance of this after-dinner brandy and pineapple cocktail.

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Jungle Bird
With: Dark rum, Campari, pineapple juice, lime juice and sugar syrup.
We say: Bittersweet and fruity with pungent rum notes sipped through crushed ice. Properly Tiki-tastic.

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Kingston Club
With: Drambuie liqueur, pineapple juice, lime juice, fernet liqueur, aromatic bitters and soda water.
We say: Pineapple juice with herbal attitude.

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Piña Colada
With: Light rum, cachaça, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, lime juice, single cream and salt.
We say: A splash of cachaça adds some Latin flavour, lime adds a citrusy bite while a splash of fresh cream makes this Piña Colada creamy white.

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Pisco Punch
With: Clove, pisco, pineapple juice, orange juice, lemon juice, sugar syrup and champagne.
We say: A tangy, balanced combination of rich flavours.

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Pyramid Punch
With: Clove, pisco, elderflower liqueur, pineapple juice and pink grapefruit juice.
We say: Tangy, fruity and packed with flavour - clove spice, fragrant floral pisco and elderflower with a hint of sweet pineapple and sour grapefruit.

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Singapore Sling
With: Dry gin, cherry brandy liqueur, bénédictine, triple sec, pineapple juice, lime juice, grenadine syrup and aromatic bitters.
We say: Beautifully balanced, fruity and complex with just enough gin to add a spirituous bite.

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Suzie Cocktail
With: Pisco, gentian liqueur, pineapple juice, white wine and sugar syrup.
We say: Pisco, pineapple and Sauvignon Blanc wine are a match made in heaven, while gentian liqueur provides complex underlying gentian bittersweet notes.

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Sweet Liberty's Sherry Cobbler
With: Fino sherry, pink grapefruit juice, elderflower liqueur, pineapple juice and honey syrup.
We say: Fino sherry mineralogy sits beautifully with subtle pineapple and elderflower, freshened by zesty grapefruit.

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Ultima Palabra
With: Mezcal, Green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, pineapple juice, lime juice and chilled water
We say: This riff on the Last Word is named after the direct Spanish translation of Last Word, hence the use of mezcal in place of gin. Pineapple juice, another distinguishing feature of this riff on the classic, works brilliantly - adding a fruity sweetness and complexity.

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When The Smoke Cleared
With: Mezcal, Aperol, ginger syrup, lime juice and pineapple juice.
We say: Smoky, tangy and complex with layers of flavour, although happily mezcal dominates.

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With: Jamaican rum, mellow white/gold rum, overproof aged rum, falernum liqueur, anis, pineapple juice, lime juice, pink grapefruit juice, grenadine syrup
We say: Powerful funky rum and delicate cinnamon spice partially tamed by rich fruit and sweetened clove.

Pineapples: the forgotten fruit?

The following was written by Dean Callan and first published on this site back in July 2013 when he was Monkey Shoulder Global Brand Ambassador. However, it remains both interesting and relevant.

I have set myself a mission: to re-instate the pineapple in bars across the world. Following on from 'The Pineapple, a Symbol of Hospitality' presentation that I gave at Tales of the Cocktail with my good friend Jake Burger, I'm feeling even more enthused. It seems Jake and I are not alone in our love of the king of fruits.

It all started on a visit to Cienfuegos, a brilliantly garish Cuban-inspired speakeasy hidden away above a sandwich shop in New York's East Village. The excitement started when I read the description of the Isle of Manhattan Fizz: "The bastard son of the Piña Colada and the Ramos Gin Fizz".

It was amazing, in case you are interested. Unfortunately, my drinking companion was not impressed, he didn't think pineapples belonged in quality bars. It got me thinking - how did this fruit, once considered a symbol of status and hospitality, spread around the world from its native Brazil to Europe and beyond in the 1600s, become so neglected by bartenders in the late 20th century?

A few months later, the subject of pineapples came up again in conversation with Jake, the man behind the infamous pineapple-inspired Penis Enlarger cocktail (it includes a derivation of Viagra). As the drinks flowed, we made a pact - let's bring the pineapple back, in fact let's take it to Tales of the Cocktail. The next day the words of Ernest Hemingway were ringing round my head - "Always do sober what you said you'd do when drunk" - and our mission to promote the pineapple was underway.

Fall from grace

So why have pineapples fallen out of favour? I think the current generation of bartenders only know one drink that called for pineapple, the Piña Colada, and the people who taught them had been told not to go near them, their having gained a poor reputation based on poor quality ingredients.

Yet there are plenty of classic drinks that call for pineapple, such as the Harry Craddock creation the Holland House, the rum-based Mary Pickford or Missionary's Downfall and the Prince of Wales (my twist is below). You can find pineapple recipes in David Embury and Harry Johnson too. I honestly think pineapple pairs well with any number of spirits, not just whisky - though you won't be surprised to learn I think it goes well with the subtle vanilla characteristic of Monkey Shoulder. (By the way, during the presentation, we served Artesian's recipe for the Piña Colada using Bacardi, Koko Kanu, coconut water, pineapple puree and fresh lime, blended in a slushy machine.)

A remaining problem, however, is that we've grown so used to tinned pineapple that we don't know how to use it or pick a ripe pineapple. First, you should understand that not all pineapples are the same.

Varieties of pineapple

Kona Sugarloaf - A large, white fleshed pineapple with a high sugar content and little acidity. Becoming less and less common as it damages easily.

Smooth Cayenne - A large, pale yellow flesh, cylindrical pineapple with golden tan or reddish-orange and a high sugar and acid content. Originally Hawaiian this is the one you'll most likely see in a grocery store near you. Now also grown in Central America, which look green.

Hilo - A smaller, sweeter, Hawaiian variant of the Smooth Cayenne.

Champaka - Another subvariety of the Smooth Cayenne.

Natal Queen - A smaller fruit with a crisp texture and delicate mild flavour, golden yellow flesh and very spiny leaves.

Queen Victoria - A small yet particularly sweet fruit with an exceptional aroma, small size and bright colour have seen this variety described as the best in the world. Grown in Africa, Mauritius, South Africa and Reunion Island.

Pernambuco (Eleuthera) - A small pineapple with the palest of flesh and spiny leaves.

Red Spanish - A small fruit with bright yellow flesh, a nice aroma and distinctive square shape.

Del Monte Gold - A recent variety with sweet, deep-yellow flesh and a subtle coconut flavour, the man from Del Monte, he say yes.

How to tell if a pineapple is ripe

Next, how to pick a ripe one? First, feel it up: is it heavy? Good. This means it's ripe and full of juice. Now squeeze it, there should be some give but not too much. Smell it: go for a fresh sweet aroma without that 'fermented' smell. You want bright green leaves, a fresh looking skin and a full body. Avoid wrinkled skin, tired dry leaves or black holes. Finally pluck a leaf - is it faded in colour or still verdant and succulent?

Pineapples rediscoverd

Judging by the response from delegates at Tales, I think Jake and I hit a nerve. One craft brewer told me she'd been inspired to make a pineapple wine, mimicking the earliest trials of the native tribes in Brazil who would mash up pineapples and return a few days later to drink the fermented juice. Don't be surprised if I roll into your bar asking for a Monkey Shoulder and pineapple-inspired creation.

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