I’m switching things up a bit today.
You see, normally for a long holiday weekend (especially Memorial Day – aka, the unofficial kickoff of summer), I’d plan chips, salsa, and a boatload of margaritas. Margaritas are definitely my hot weather cocktail of choice, and probably my favorite boozy drink all year round. So, while I could stick in my comfort zone and share another recipe for margaritas, I’ve decided to take things to a more tropical place. And I’m not mad about it.
Piña coladas are one of the most delicious concoctions on earth. They symbolize vacation. Warm weather. Palm trees. And fun!
The only problem (at least for me) is that I can only have one. They’re usually heavy and suuuuper sweet, which often doesn’t sit well with me on a hot day. Plus, often times, they’re made from an artificially flavored mix, which just isn’t my favorite. So! To remedy all of these issues, I made a light and fizzy piña colada punch! And here’s why I love it.
It’s not too sweet.
It’s made with real pineapple and coconut.
It’s effervescent and light.
It’s ridiculously easy to make.
It serves a crowd.
All of these reasons make this punch IDEAL for the upcoming holiday weekend. If you’re planning a BBQ or party for Memorial Day, please consider making this punch for your guests. Most people are into the flavors and everyone will be impressed with your hosting skills. Let’s face it: a bowl of festive punch makes everyone happy.
I love serving punches like this in big bowl with an ice mold floating in the center. It just makes me smile. All that pretty fruit floating throughout the bowl is so pretty. It’s also a completely optional step. The recipe below outlines how to serve this punch both with and without the ice mold.
Another thing to note is this: the fruit you choose to float in/serve with this punch is totally customizable. I went with ingredients I thought would look pretty and also feed into the tropical theme: oranges, limes, pineapple rings, kiwi, and maraschino cherries (because piña coladas ALWAYS have a red maraschino cherry). But you can use whatever you have on hand! The flavor of the actual punch is still the star.
The punch comes together easily – really, you’re just dumping stuff into a bowl and mixing it up! Now, that’s some mixology I can get behind.
You want lots of cold (KEY! Everything should be chilled before going in the bowl) pineapple juice and a can of cream of coconut. I urge you to get the real cream of coconut instead of coconut milk. Why? The cream of coconut not only has a more intense coconut flavor, which is definitely necessary in piña coladas, but it also has a thicker, more luxurious consistency. You need it to really make this taste like a piña colada. You want to make sure that the cream of coconut is really well mixed into the pineapple juice. It gives the juice some heft and creaminess, but it can also stay sort of…chunky (so gross. Sorry) if you don’t whisk it in really, really well.
Then! You mix in some rum and top it all off with club soda or seltzer water. You could also do some lemon-lime soda here, but my personal preference is to keep things a little less sweet. The pineapple juice is plenty sweet for me. But do what works for you! Maybe a mix of half soda, half seltzer will do the trick for you. You just want to make sure you had SOMETHING bubbly to keep things light and festive.
Once you’ve got it all mixed together, add your ice mold OR a ton of crushed ice and serve! Garnish with fruit or those adorable little cocktail umbrellas (because what else says “party” like a cute umbrella in your drink?!), as your little heart desires. Easy peasy. Serving punch at a party not only puts everyone in a good mood (we can thank the rum for that), but it also makes your life SO MUCH EASIER. You aren’t constantly mixing drinks and filling the coolers up with ice. The cocktail is DONE.
Which means there is plenty of time to still eat your weight in chips and salsa. Always and forever.
Enough pineapple juice to fill your pan (mine needed roughly 4 cups)
5 cups pineapple juice, chilled
1 (15-oz) can cream of coconut (NOT coconut milk)
2 cups club soda or seltzer water, chilled
Juice of 2 limes
2 cups light rum
Additional kiwi slices
Additional pineapple slices or chunks
Additional lime and orange slices
Additional maraschino cherries
Fresh mint leaves
Cocktail umbrellas and straws, optional
The day (or at least several hours) before you want to serve, decoratively layer the fruit in a bundt pan. Fill the pan with about 1 inch of pineapple juice and then transfer the pan to the freezer. Freeze until the first layer is frozen solid.
Repeat with 2-3 more layers, freezing after each layer, to create a layered ice mold. This helps prevent the fruit from floating to only one section of the mold. Keep the mold frozen until you are ready to serve.
Blend the pineapple juice and cream of coconut in a blender until smooth. Pour into a punch bowl.
Carefully mix in the club soda, lime juice, and rum, stirring until everything is well blended.
Run a little warm water over your bundt pan to loosen the fruit ice mold. Invert and carefully add the ice mold to the punch bowl.
Serve the punch cold with desired garnishes.
The frozen fruit ice ring is a completely optional step. It makes for a festive and fun presentation while keeping the punch icy cold. The alternative is to serve this punch over lots of ice and garnished with lots of fresh fruit.