Michigan Radio’s Stateside colleagues April Van Buren and Mercedes Mejia challenged the Cheers! team to make a pina colada using paw paw.
The Cheers! drink expert, Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings, loved the idea.
“I thought it was a great challenge. As soon as I heard the words paw paw colada, I thought this is a drink that needs to be made,” she said.
The first question for Coxen was whether to replace one of the standard pina colada ingredients with paw paw or use it as an add on. She felt it didn’t really work as a drink without some pineapple juice.
The paw paw is North America’s only native tropical fruit. It grows from the Great Lakes region to as far south as the panhandle of Florida. But because it doesn’t travel well, you don’t often find it in a supermarket.
If you want to know more about the paw paw, Stateside interviewed the guy who wrote the book on paw paws. You can listen to the interview here.
The fruit of the paw paw tree is very sweet and its flesh is very soft. Some people call it a custard apple. Others call paw paws the Michigan banana. It does taste a little like a banana, but it also has mango notes. For the drink you don’t need to puree the fruit. Just spoon out the flesh.
Coxen used very ripe paw paws for the drink.
Paw Paw Colada
1 1/2 oz rum (dark or white – see our choice below)
1 oz coconut syrup (see recipe below; can substitute Coco Lopez cream of coconut)
2 oz pineapple juice
2 tbsp paw paw pulp
1/4 oz lime juice
pinch of salt
1 cup of crushed ice
a sprig of mint for garnish
Put ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a Collins glass or a Poco Grande Glass if you have one (the traditional glass for pina coladas). Garnish with a mint sprig.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup coconut milk
1/8 tsp salt
Combine sugar and water in saucepan and heat until sugar is dissolved.
Let cool. Combine coconut milk, syrup, and salt in tall container. Mix
with an immersion blender to combine. Store refrigerated.
Coxen used Freshwater Michigan Barrel Rum from New Holland Artisan Spirits.
Challenge met. If you have a challenge for the Cheers! team, leave a comment on the Stateside webpage. Keep in mind that we prominently feature Michigan ingredients in these cocktails.
Edit: This story was changed in order to add the coconut syrup recipe.