American Welcome Drink - Pineapple Ginger Cocktail

American Welcome Drink (Pineapple-Ginger Cocktail) by

Pineapples and murder?

From prosperity in the East to hospitality in the West, the pineapple is a positive symbol around the world.  But when I was a child, the pineapple symbolized mystery and murder.

The historic and infamous Glensheen Mansion – along the shores of Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota – is a trove of pineapples.  Pineapples carved in the woodwork and furnishings.  Pineapples hanging from light fixtures.  Pineapples decorating stairwells and entryways.  Symbols of welcome throughout the eerie 38-room home.

While the pineapples caught my eye as a child, it was the whispers that intrigued me.  A decade earlier, in 1977, a nurse was killed with a candlestick holder as she confronted an intruder on the elaborate, central staircase.  Moments later, the intruder entered a second-floor bedroom and smothered the 83-year old heiress, Elisabeth Congdon, with a pillow from her bed.  A Clue-like event intentionally left out from the tour, but clearly on everyone’s mind.

Luckily, a sinister association of a child’s imagination is only temporary.

Sweet bali pineapple (Malaysian pineapple) on

Seeing pineapples of all different shapes and colors in Penang during Chinese New Year – representing a prosperous future – is a reminder of the powerful symbol of the fruit.

In Western culture, the pineapple is a symbol of hospitality.  A sign to guests that the house is a welcome place for them.  The origins of this practice date back to early colonial America, when fresh pineapples were a luxury item from the Caribbean.  To honor guests into the home, the hostess would create an extravagant centerpiece for the dining room table, adorned with a pineapple on top.  If the family could not afford to buy a pineapple, but wanted to honor their guests – as well as appear more affluent than they were – the hostess could rent a pineapple from a grocer.

This custom of the fresh pineapple on top of the centerpiece led to the popularity of pineapple motifs in the home, as just as significant a sign of hospitality.  That is why throughout the US, especially on the East Coast and in the South, pineapple motifs can be found in many historic mansions.  And the tradition continues to this day, as pineapple is a popular design for stair finials.

American Welcome Drink (Pineapple-Ginger Cocktail) by

There couldn’t be a more appropriate American Welcome Drink than a pineapple one…with rum.  Since bottles of rum accompanied the shipments of pineapple from the Caribbean to colonial America, I’m sure the first American cocktail was created on-board.

Fresh ginger for making cocktails

For a bit more bite, I blended in fresh ginger, and after one sip, the spicy sweet drink had me wondering why pineapple and ginger are not combined more often.

American Welcome Drink (Pineapple-Ginger Cocktail) by
To carry on the tradition of honoring guests with a fresh pineapple on top, I did just that, by topping the drink with a dwarf pineapple.  The most tropical drink you’ve ever seen, but as American as apple pie.

American Welcome Drink (Pineapple-Ginger Cocktail) by

Spiked Pineapple Ginger Drink by Season with Spice
Makes 2 drinks

2 cups fresh pineapple – core removed and chopped
About 1-inch fresh ginger
2 tsp sugar*
1/2 cup water
Ice cubes
Splash of milk (optional)
2 shots of rum

1. Add pineapple, ginger, sugar, water, and five ice cubes (and milk, if adding) into a blender, and blend until smooth and foamy.
2. Add five ice cubes into both glasses, along with a shot of rum.
3. Pour mixture into glasses and serve immediately while still foamy. If you can find two dwarf pineapples, top each glass with one.

* I used a Bali pineapple (Malaysian pineapple) which is very sweet, so you may need to adjust the sugar amount depending on what type of pineapple you use.
- If you’re out of rum, try it with vodka.