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 24 best pineapple cocktails:

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Brandy Fix
With: Cognac, pineapple juice, lemon juice, sugar syrup and yellow Chartreuse.
We say: This wonderful classic is slightly on the tart side of well-balanced.

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Club Cocktail (Whitfield's recipe)
With: Cognac, maraschino liqueur, pineapple juice, Peychaud's Aromatic Bitters.
We say: Pineapple juice adds fruity tropical freshness and a foamy head to this cocktail which is fortified with cognac and aromatised with a splash of maraschino cherry liqueur and a couple of dashes of New Orleans bitters.

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El Presidente No.1
With: Rum, pineapple juice, lime juice and pomegranate syrup.
We say: Rum and pineapple combine wonderfully and the Daiquiri is the king of cocktails.

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French Daiquiri
With: Rum, raspberry liqueur, lime juice, pineapple juice and daiquiri bitters.
We say: A classic Daiquiri made fruity with the addition of black raspberry liqueur and pineapple juice.

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Goombay Smash
With: Navy rum, triple sec, coconut rum liqueur, pineapple juice and lime juice.
We say: Smashes are usually short drinks that include muddled mint, but this potent Tiki-style drink features rum, coconut and fruit.

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Mary Pickford
With: Rum, pineapple juice, pomegranate syrup and maraschino liqueur.
We say: When made correctly, this pale pink cocktail has a perfect balance between the fruit flavours and the spirit of the rum.

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Missionary's Downfall
With: Rum, peach liqueur, lime juice, pineapple juice and sugar syrup.
We say: Superbly balanced and refreshing rum, lime, mint and a hint of peach.

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With: Navy rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and cream of coconut.
We say: Full-flavoured and fruity with two measures of navy strength rum partially masked by rich coconut and fruit juice.

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

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Pineapple & Cardamom Martini
With: Vodka, pineapple juice, sugar syrup and cardamom pod.
We say: This is about as good as it gets: a spectacular pairing of fruit and spice.

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Pineapple & Mint Caipirinha
With: Cachaca with fresh lime, caster sugar, pineapple and mint leaves.
We say: The added fruits give extra refreshing notes to the cachaca which we love.

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Pineapple Daiquiri
With: Pineapple rum, rum, pineapple juice, lime juice, pineapple liqueur, sugar syrup and Tiki bitters
We say: Tangy pineapple fruit laced with light white and aged rums. Yumm!

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Pineapple Martini
With: Vodka, pineapple juice, lime juice, pineapple liqueur, sugar syrup and Tiki bitters.
We say: There's a lot of Daiquiri going on in this very tasty vodka based cocktail - indeed so much that we couldn't help trying the same drink with a rum base - a Pineapple Daiquiri.

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With: Pisco, mead, pineapple juice, vanilla liqueur and pine liqueur.
We say: Honey and pineapple, laced with aromatic Pisco and spiced with clove.

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Pisco Punch
With: Pisco, pineapple juice, orange juice, lemon juice, sugar syrup and champagne.
We say: A tangy, balanced combination of rich flavours. The quality of Pisco used is crucial to the success of a Pisco Punch.

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Pyramid Punch
With: 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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Rhine Wine Cobbler
With: Pineapple, Riesling wine, orange juice and sugar syrup.
We say: Light, grapey, fruit and very refreshing. One for a summer's afternoon.

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Salty Bird
With: Rum, Campari, pineapple juice, lime juice and sugar syrup.
We say: Salty Bird hardly suggests a sweet fruity drink but perfectly befits this bittersweet rum laced pineapple and Campari sipper.

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Sherry Cobbler
With: Oloroso sherry, Ximenez sherry, maraschino liqueur, sugar syrup, pineapple juice and orange juice.
We say: This age old cocktail is said to have been the drink for which the waxed paper straw was invented. To quote Harry Johnson, from his 1882 Bartender's Manual, "It is a very refreshing drink for old and young."

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

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Ultima Palabra
With: Mezcal, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, pineapple juice and lime juice.
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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With: Cognac, white wine, pineapple juice and sugar syrup.
We say: A relatively dry cocktail where the vanilla combines beautifully with the cognac and the acidity of the wine balances the sweetness of the pineapple juice.

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Very French Martini
With: Cognac, raspberry liqueur and pineapple juice.
We say: Cognac, pineapple juice and black raspberry liqueur. OK, so France is not known for its pineapples but I said 'very' not 'totally' French. And yes I know it's not really a Martini.

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

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. Here's my take on the Prince of Wales, originally a cognac-based drink.