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Happy New Year! I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to follow along with me each week here on Boxes and Booze. This year has been full of wonderfully puzzling works of art and fantastic cocktails. This year let’s bring in the new year with a traditional symbol of welcoming, the pineapple.

In America, during the early colonial days, New England sea captains back from travels in the tropics, would spear a pineapple on a post in front of their house to let friends and neighbors know they had returned home safe. It was a sign of invitation to visit, share the spoils and listen to the tales. The pineapple began to appear on innkeeper signs, furniture and architectural details as a symbol of friendship and hospitality.

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The classic pineapple cocktail, without a doubt, is the Pina Colada. Like any true and proper classic cocktail, the origins are murky and disputed. Some say the drink was invented by the pirate Roberto Cofresi, a Robin Hood like criminal and hero from Puerto Rico in the early nineteenth century. Others give credit to Ramon Monchito Marrero, a bartender at the Caribe Hilton Puerto Rico in 1954 (shortly after the invention of Coco Lopez, a critical ingredient in the modern version of the drink). Then there is Don Ramos Portas Mingot in 1963 at Barrachina, another restaurant in Puerto Rico. One thing is certainly clear, the drink is from Puerto Rico, and became the country’s national drink in 1978.

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I’m offering this modern twist to the classic from award winning mixologist Caitlin Laman of Chicago’s Ace Hotel. She brings the drink back in time by swapping most of the typical rum for sherry, which was wildly popular in the days of Dickens and has had a resurgence again lately. It adds a robust nuttiness to the drink and turns something too familiar into something fresh and new again. Let’s approach the new year like this, with fresh new ideas which can open our eyes to new perspectives that let us see things in new ways. Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and welcoming new year. Cheers!

Sherry Colada by Caitlin Laman

1 ½ oz Amontillado sherry

½ oz aged rum

1 oz coconut syrup*

½ oz fresh pineapple juice

¼ oz fresh lime juice

Shake ingredients together with ice and double strain into a favorite glass. Garnish with citrus zest.

Coconut syrup:

Combine 1 part Perfect Puree coconut with 1 part simple syrup (1:1)

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For more about the wonderfully welcoming “Pineapple Secret” see:

Boxes and Booze: A Warm Welcome