The Piña Verde is a modern tropical cocktail made with an unusual base spirit: green Chartreuse. Inspired by the classic Piña Colada, the Piña Verde is a blend of Chartreuse (in place of white rum), pineapple, coconut, and lime.
The “Greenya Colada”
The Piña Verde was invented by bartender Erick Castro at the San Diego bar Polite Provisions sometime in the 2010s (I can’t seem to find out when exactly this cocktail was first shaken up). Castro was looking to make an herbal twist on the Piña Colada and after a lot of trial and error, he arrived at this deliciously unexpected Chartreuse-forward recipe.
“Piña Verde” means Green Pineapple, referencing the green Chartreuse that replaces rum in the drink. The staff at the bar where the drink was born are known to playfully call the cocktail the “Greenya Colada.”
Chartreuse lends a complex herbal flavor to the classic tropical flavors of pineapple and coconut. The resulting drink is fruity, herbaceous, and surprisingly easy to sip.
What is Chartreuse?
Chartreuse is a French liqueur with a storied past and a secret recipe that’s known to only two people at any given time. Carthusian monks have made this unique liqueur from a blend of 130 herbs and other plants since 1737, although the recipe dates back to the early 1600s.
Today, there are two varieties: green Chartreuse and yellow Chartreuse. Both liqueurs are complex and boldly flavored, but the original green Chartreuse is the more potent of the two. The green variety clocks in at 110 proof (55%), while the yellow is slightly lower at 80 proof (40% alchohol). Yellow Chartreuse is considered a bit more mild, and it’s also a little bit sweeter.
Perhaps the most famous cocktail to feature green Chartreuse is The Last Word, an equal parts classic made with gin, Chartresuse, maraschino liqueur and lime juice. Others include the Chartreuse Swizzle and the old school Bijou.
Can you substitute yellow Chartreuse for green?
Yes, and no. It will change the flavor considerably. However, it will still be delicious. Because the yellow variety is less alcoholic and also sweeter, you’ll need to scale back on the cream of coconut or perhaps add more lime juice. Adjust the specs to taste. I recommend making this recipe with the original green Chartreuse for the best-tasting, most balanced drink.
Piña Verde ingredients
- Green Chartreuse
- Pineapple juice
- Cream of coconut (or a quality coconut syrup)
- Lime juice
Chartreuse is a handcrafted liqueur that’s lovingly made from a ton of botanicals and it shows in the price tag. In the Northeast, a bottle will run you between $50-$60. The good news is that it’s totally worth it! The high ABV and unique flavor profile make it a surprisingly versatile bottle for your home bar. If you’re not ready to shell out that much for a liqueur, look for a Total Wine. The locations near me carry half-size bottles of green Chartreuse (for half the price).
How to make it
Some Pina Verde recipes call for the ingredients to be shaken, others for it to be blended with ice for a frozen cocktail. It’s great both ways, but I prefer mine shaken. When riffing on this drink and using yellow Chartreuse, I love it sweet and frozen.
To make a shaken version, combine 1.5 ounces of green Chartreuse with 1.5 ounces pineapple juice (fresh makes a big difference), .75 ounce cream of coconut, and .5 ounce fresh lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker about three quarters with ice and shake until very cold. Strain the liquid into a double rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with a big sprig of mint.
To make it frozen, combine all ingredients in a blender with about 3/4 cup of crushed ice. Crushed ice will make for the smoothest texture in your finished drink, which is especially helpful if you’re working with a less than powerful blender. Blend everything together on high and pour into a tall glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint and enjoy!
Other interesting tropical cocktails to consider:
- Saturn (a gin-based tiki cocktail)
- Missionary’s Downfall (rum, peach, pineapple, mint)
- Pearl Diver
- Pink Coconut Mojito
- Classic Pina Coladas
Piña Verde (Green Chartreuse Tropical Cocktail)
- 1½ oz Green Chartreuse
- 1½ oz pineapple juice
- ¾ oz cream of coconut
- ½ oz lime juice
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill it 3/4 with ice.
- Shake until chilled, then strain into a double rocks glass filled with ice.
- Garnish with a sprig of mint.