We recently asked bartenders about “guilty pleasures” and underrated cocktails, and we were surprised (and pleased) to hear the piña colada brought up time and time again. At the My Table office, one staffer is reminded of decadent, over-the-top piña coladas served beachside on the island of Koh Samet in Thailand. Another recalls a relaxing vacation in Mexico. It’s one of the classic cocktails that takes you somewhere gentle in your memories, wrapping you in the embrace of a warm breeze.

When well made, the pineapple and coconut cocktail is a solid substitute for the margarita on a hellishly hot Houston day. And with rum interest continuing to grow among consumers, you may have noticed the piña colada sprouting up on cocktail menus where you haven’t seen it before. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the piña colada, click here.

Now that temps have hit the 90s in our part of Texas, we decided to scour Houston for some of the best piña colada variations we can find. Coconut cream is “a good fat” if you’re a follower of ketogenic diet trends, and using no-sugar-added pineapple prevents this drink from being too sweet. As it turns out, many bartenders have their own spin on the classic piña colada recipe. Our five-part piña colada series starts with The Picolada, the variation of the piña colada offered at Arnaldo Richards’ Picos.

“We have been drinking these as a family all of my life,” beverage director Monica Richards told us a few weeks ago. “We love to visit Playa del Carmen during the summer and have been traveling there every year since I was a child.” The Richards family prefers Bacardi rum. “Not only for flavor but also consistency,” she explained. “Adding the Kahlúa [floater] at the end really rounds out the drink and gives it an extra pop of flavor you wouldn’t normally expect in a piña colada.”

The Picolada

2 oz. pineapple juice
2 oz. cream of coconut
1 oz. Cruzan Coconut
1/2 oz. Bacardi Anejo
1/4 oz. Bacardi Ocho
9 oz. ice (by weight)
1/4 oz. Kahlúa

Method: Combine all ingredients in a blender, except for Kahlúa. Blend until smooth. Pour into your cup of choice – a decorative 15-ounce glass being the most popular. Add Kahlúa on top and let it sink into the frozen drink. Garnish with your choice of fruit. 

Arnaldo Richards’ Picos, 3601 Kirby at Richmond, 832-831-9940, picos.net