Meet the Piña Colada That’s More Medicine Than Slushy Vice
Piña coladas fall in a classification of cocktails that I've trained my brain into thinking are too unhealthy to even consider drinking. If I have, for some reason, found myself at one of those God-awful but awfully great all-inclusive resorts for a long weekend, I'd much rather have a Miami Vice anyway, so the piña truly does fall at the bottom of my personal slushy drink hierarchy. That was, until I found a piña colada that's actually good for you during my recent travels to Cuba.
Related: A Trip to Cuba in 3 Cocktails
While visiting a farm in Viñales, a tobacco-producing region two hours west of Havana, my group and I sat for lunch at the property's restaurant, where the kitchen produced a seemingly never-ending lineup of dishes straight from the farm—everything from simply prepared sweet potatoes and beets to chicken, lamb and beef, each more mouthwatering than the last.
But the surprise hit of the meal, by far, was the "De-stress" piña colada. At first, I thought the waiter was trying to push this drink because he knew we were a group of Americans, and it was the most diabetes-inducing thing he had on the menu. But as he continued his description, I became more and more intrigued. Even in his limited English — and our even more limited Spanish — we were able to understand this was an all-natural version of the cocktail, one made from fresh ingredients rather than a mix of cleverly combined syrups. By the time he described the medicinal herbs of this relaxing concoction — peppermint, basil, lemongrass, cinnamon, coconut milk and anise — I was totally sold.
If you're taking advantage of the newly loosened travel options to Cuba, make sure to ask for this drink at Casa de Confianza, the restaurant at Finca Paraiso Agroecologica, Carretera Al Cementerio KM 1 1/2, Viñales.