Latin Twist: Fun Fiesta Cocktails Part 1


And so, mis queridos amigos, it begins.

Once the tree in Rockefeller Center has been lit, the pre-holiday and then holiday vortex descends. Though the fiestas may be a lot of fun, so many of us—and for good reasons—get totally stressed. Because of this, I’d like to share some entertaining ideas for you. The goal here is fun! If you’re like me, and like to bring something to sip to a soirée, this will give you some options.  The only rules I have is that your drink should be tasty—and fun! I even buy those little umbrellas (I’ve ALWAYS loved them) for that great “tropical” touch (just to let you know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen those umbrellas in the tropics!). Again, the point is to have fun!

Actually, I posted this one back in the spring on my In the Kitchen with Arlen  blog, but this is another worth an encore appearance!

And oh! Speaking of encore appearances, I’ll be back at La Casa Azul Bookstore on December 9th, from 2 to 5, along with 29 other local authors, to personally sign my books, Mambo Mixers and Calypso Coolers! Latin Twist fans, I encourage you to visit the store and find great books—in English, and Spanish. (I’ll be buying my kids’ presents there—and more. They’ve got a wonderful collection of books…and it’s just so much fun to actually PERUSE. The staff there is also quite helpful, and the owner, Aurora, is an inspiration!)

Yes—encore appearances continue! Here’s another great gift idea: a cooking class! I’ll be teaching an Argentine-themed cooking class at Don Coqui’s in New Rochelle, on Friday January 25th. Check here for the menu! Price is $70—and that includes dinner, drinks,the recipes—and a great night of fun!

Now back to this post (whew!) So here’s the first of my fun fiesta drinks; this one falls under the category also of the blender cocktail. Nice part about the piña colada—aside from the fab flavors—is that you can, like many other blender drinks, make it ahead of time and store in the freezer, or fridge. (If it separates too much, just reblend!) This is great to serve with small tapas (check my other posts) before dinner or whenever you feel that tropical urge!

Ah—one last thing! Sangría is another wonderful bring to make/serve at a fiesta in your or someone else’s home. Here—on Telemundo—I show how to make it. And don’t worry if you don’t speak Spanish; this will give you a bit of practice, and write to me if you don’t get the recipe! ¡Buen provecho! Enjoy!


Piña Colada --Fun Fiesta Cocktails Part 1

Serving Size: 4

Piña Colada --Fun Fiesta Cocktails  Part 1

Adapted from Mambo Mixers, © 2005 by Arlen Gargagliano, Stewart Tabori & Chang. Photo by Dasha Wright


  • 8 ounces light rum
  • 16 ounces fresh/unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 3 ounces cream of coconut (or to taste!)
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks (optional), plus pineapple chunks for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons shredded and sweetened fresh coconut (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cup ice cubes


  1. Combine all the ingredients (except the pineapple garnish!) in a blender and process until smooth.
  2. Pour into chilled wine glasses.
  3. Garnish with pineapple.
  4. Serve!



About Author

Maybe it was the dinner parties my mom always threw—or the hours I spent prepping and cooking alongside her (and then on my own!). Or maybe it was array of fabulous dishes that my family sampled in New York City’s richly diverse restaurants, but I’ve loved creating, savoring, and sharing food for as long as I can remember. Living in Spain, and later in Peru, also greatly influenced my life. These years abroad taught me Spanish—and about living in different countries--but also introduced me to teaching English as a second language, which I’ve done—mostly in the US-- for the past 20-plus (yikes!) years. I’ve authored two cocktail/tapas books, Mambo Mixers and Calypso Coolers, coauthored more than 15 others (mostly food related!), and raised two children. Now I'm chef and owner of my own restaurant, Mambo 64 in Tuckahoe, New York. My message is the same, whether I'm teaching, writing, running the restaurant or being a regular guest on the Spanish-language network Telemundo (on the morning show, Buenos Días Nueva York!). My belief in food—and the power of food—is far reaching, and is married with another one: the power of stories. I’m sure that if we could all sit down and have meals together, sharing both tastes and tales, we’d have peace on earth. Enjoy!

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