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Lava Flow Cocktail Recipe | Wine Enthusiast

Lava Flow Cocktail Recipe | Wine Enthusiast

While not part of the classic tiki drink canon, the Lava Flow rightly has fans of its own. Essentially, it’s a blended piña colada enhanced with a streak of strawberry purée, meant to evoke a flow of red-hot lava.

Though it’s unclear precisely where the drink came from, most agree it has tropical ties.

“It does not appear anywhere before the 1980s,” says cocktail historian Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. “The first time I ever saw one was at a tropical-themed steakhouse called Damon’s in Glendale, California.” He posits that the drink may be an offshoot of the ’80s-era Miami Vice (another drink with unclear origins, though some suggest it was first created at Miami’s beach bars), which swirls together a piña colada and strawberry daiquiri in the same glass, giving a similar visual effect as the Lava Flow.

Which came first: the Miami Vice or the Lava Flow? “There’s no evidence either way,” Berry says.

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Another theory holds that the Lava Flow was developed in Hawaii, also likely in the 1980s or early 1990s. Supporting this theory: an article written by the late Rick Carroll, a journalist who moved to Hawaii in the late 1980s and covered the drinks scene there. His 1993 article about “Hawaii’s Newest Tropical Cocktails” name-checks the Lava Flow: “It looks like red hot lava, tastes like a strawberry ice cream float and is so agreeable I had two before the sun went down,” Carroll wrote.

He ascribed the drink to the Four Seasons Maui at Wailea: “One of the Four Seasons’ most requested drinks,” he wrote, “the Lava Flow was created by a team of bartenders with the goal of creating a new tropical cocktail that captured the essence of Hawaii in a glass.” While a representative from the Wailea resort says they don’t believe the drink was created there, it remains a popular poolside order.

If you want to taste the perhaps-OG recipe, you could hop a flight to Maui and order one at the Four Seasons’ poolside bar. Or you could just mix one up yourself. Here you’ll find the current version you’d be served there, a toothsome variation with melted vanilla ice cream and a hint of banana for extra tropical flair. We can’t help with what the weather may be like near you.

How to Make the Lava Flow Cocktail

Adapted from Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea

  • 1 ½ ounces light rum (Bacardi preferred)
  • 2 ounces pineapple juice
  • 1 ounces Coco Lopez cream of coconut
  • 1 ounce melted vanilla ice cream
  • ¼ banana
  • 1 ounce strawberry purée (or more)


Blend all ingredients (except strawberry purée) with one cup of crushed ice until smooth. Pour strawberry purée along one side of a highball glass, to create a “lava flow” effect. Pour blended mix into the prepared glass. Garnish with pineapple wedge and edible flower. Serve with a straw.

Of course, you can use your favorite piña colada recipe as the base instead of the modified ice cream version. Just don’t omit the berry “lava flow,” which sets this striking drink apart.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Click here to subscribe today!

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