Pumpkin Caramel Piña Colada

Pumpkin Spice Piña Colada

When we were at Tiki Oasis a few months ago, we sat in on a terrific seminar with Richard Boccato where he talked about the importance of having a good blender in a tiki bar and how to make great blended drinks. To summarize the talk in one sentence, all you need to know is that blenders are vitally important and making a great blended drink is more difficult than you might think. A few drinks were served during the seminar, including a piña colada made with a salted date syrup that added an addictive, slightly savory element to a classic drink. You might think that since a piña colada is sweet in the first place, you wouldn’t want to add additional flavors – especially syrups – to them, but piña coladas are actually something of a blank canvas and you can do a lot with them without making them too sweet.

Trader Joe’s recently introduced a seasonal Pumpkin Spice Caramel – definitely not a tiki product on its own – and we decided to use in to play around with a seasonal twist on the piña colada. We didn’t expect it to be quite so delicious, though. The drink has a smooth, creamy coconut flavor that is accented perfectly with buttery caramel and just the right touch of pumpkin pie spice. It tastes like Thanksgiving in the tropics – and that is a good thing!

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Caramel Sauce, for making Pumpkin Spice Piña Colada

This recipe is based on the recipe that Richard Boccato used for his piña colada, though we were a bit more generous with the caramel sauce in our holiday drink because we wanted to ensure that the pumpkin spice flavor was distinct. We used a blend of aged Jamaican rum and dark Jamaican rum, both of which give the drink a nice rich rum flavor. The addition of dark rum brings in a molasses note that supports the pumpkin flavor in the caramel well.  If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you where you can pick up this caramel (which, incidentally, is made with real pumpkin), you can approximate it by adding pumpkin pie spice to a regular or salted caramel sauce and you’ll still get a nice holiday spice infusion in your drink.

Pumpkin Caramel Piña Colada
1 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
1 oz cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez)
3/4 oz. Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Caramel Sauce
3 /4 oz añejo rum (such as Appleton X/V)
3/4 oz dark Jamaican rum

Combine all ingredients in a blender with about 6 ounces of ice and blend until very smooth. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and additional caramel.

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