Drink This Now: Tepache Colada at Jungle Bird

National Piña Colada Day is celebrated on July 10th every summer and this year marks the 65th anniversary of this Puerto Rican treasure.  Although there are various claims to the Piña Colada, most credit Ramón “Monchito” Marrero with creating the cocktail while bartending at The Caribe Hilton Hotel in 1954. For this Piña Colada Day, we head to one of our favorite tropical bars, JungleBird, in San Juan, Puerto Rico for their Tepache Colada.

We spoke exclusively to Chuck Rodriguez, Partner at Jungle Bird, about one of their most popular cocktails on their menu.  Chuck explains, “We wanted to create a more balanced Colada variation, of course, using the original Piña Colada as a reference.  What makes this cocktail unique is how we make our Tepache.  The fermentation creates a nice acidic flavor that helps the balance of the drink with the coconut cream on the palate. It still has this creamy texture defines a Colada, but has these pops of small bubbles from the tepache that creates a Kefir like quality. You will experience notes of ripe coconut, pineapple, spice, light acidity and caramel.”

Turns out that the origin of the Tepache Colada was a bit of a lucky experiment.  Chuck explain, “While we were creating the cocktail menu for Jungle Bird, we studied many different beverages from the tropics and one of them was Tepache.  We knew we wanted to incorporate this fermented beverage because we hadn’t seen it used in cocktails. While we were tasting it, I just happened to be making some coconut cream for the Jungle Bird classic Piña Colada recipe and we decided to also mix it with Tepache to see how it taste and if it plays well and BOOM!  Something very special was born and we put it in the menu.”

Tepache Colada

  • 1.5 oz Don Q Gold Rum
  • 2 o oz Tepache
  • 1.5 oz Coconut Cream

Tepache Specs:

2 ripe pineapples
2 cups of “pilocillo” sugar. Turbinado sugar can work also if it’s hard to find.
3 cinnamon sticks
a piece of ginger cut in cubes about 3 cubes of 1 inch
14 cups of water

Rinse the pineapples and cut them. Save the skin, you will use it for the beverage. In a blender put water and pineapple chunks half blend the pineapples. pour all the ingredients in a fermentation jar with all the other ingredients. With a big spoon stir the sugar to dissolve it a little and smash all the other ingredients to get some juice and flavor from them. Cap it and let it sit for 2 days. Stir the liquid and strain all the solids with a fine cloth. The liquid put it back in the rinse and clean fermentation jar for 3 more days in a fridge. It should create some bubbles.

Coconut Cream Specs
2 cups of fresh coconut milk.
2 cups granulated sugar.

In a pan, heat your 2 cups of coconut milk up to 82ºC. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Take out the heat and strain it to a safe vessel. Keep it in the refrigerator and use it when is cold.

Jungle Bird Details

Calle Canals 254, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00907

www.colectivoicaro.com/junglebirdrumclub | @junglebirdbar

Photography by Ricardo Hernández

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