If you like piña coladas and … well that's pretty much where Georgi Radev, bar manager at Mahiki got stuck. No getting caught in the rain. No dissing yoga. Maybe even no making love at midnight. Because Radev loves, loves, LOVES piña coladas.
"It's a match made in heaven!" he exclaims to me, dressed in a fairly, all things considered, understatedly patterned Hawaiian shirt at a London Cocktail Week tiki pop-up at The Langham Hotel in London. "Rum! Pineapple! Coconut! You just can't go wrong with that."
I'm feeling rather subdued, dressed in what I felt was a more seasonally appropriate pair of black jeans with suitably autumnal brown boots and a black top. Everyone else is wearing eccentric shirts and multicoloured fabric leis. They're far more prepped for a party than I am, and a party it will be, because I'm talking to Radev just before he attempts to break the world record for making the largest ever piña colada.
"It was a mad idea at the end of a drunken night," he shrugs. Of course. All the craziest ideas are. "I was just thinking how whenever you have an event, you need a cherry on top, and wondering what hasn't been done before. A giant piña colada!"
In the middle of a room filled with mocked-up rum shacks stands a giant pineapple—basically a garden water butt that's been covered in polystyrene and painted to look fruity and tropical. It can hold 510 litres and will be the receptacle of Radev's favourite cocktail.
Not just his favourite, he insists. EVERYONE'S favourite.
"I did the research," he tells me. "It's the most consumed cocktail in the world, more than the mojito even."
More even than a martini, I query. More than martinis, he insists.
"A martini isn't everyone's cup of tea, whereas I don't know a person who doesn't like a piña colada. It might be a guilty pleasure. There'll be people who claim they don't like it because they don't want to admit to it. But secretly, they do."
I wouldn't want to gainsay someone on their likes and dislikes, but there's no quibbling over the iconic status of the piña colada.
"It's the most inspirational cocktail in the world!" exclaims Radev. "There are songs about them! You can even get piña colada-flavoured shampoo!"
Fortunately for this afternoon's record attempt, he's playing it straight. Around his water-butt-stroke-pineapple are boxes of bottles and bottles of rum, cartons of pineapple juice and coconut cream, stacks of Angostura bitters, and limes—all ready to go.
"I worked out the quantities and then scaled it up so it should taste right," Radev says. With 140 bottles of rum as the base spirit, I certainly hope he has got the mixer ratio right, otherwise this is going to prove to be a very boozy afternoon for the 1,000 people who he should be able to serve from his giant rum cocktail record attempt.
Radev disappears, leaving me to chat briefly with the creator of the pineapple, another brightly shirted fella by the name of Trader Sam.
"This was reasonably simple to make," he shrugs. "I've made a St. Bernard Dog people can drink out the back of, goats people can drink out the back of, a cow, a red stag … "
In fact, there seems to be no shape that Sam hasn't been able to transform into a drinks dispenser. Making a pineapple was a doddle, he tells me, picking up a parasol that will double as the cocktail brolly and giving it a spin.
Gradually, a crowd gathers and the time to perform the epic cocktail making attempt is upon us. Various bartenders gather around the butt, bottles in hand, and on Radev's count, there's a melee of bottle opening, tipping, and pouring. Rum, pineapple juice, coconut cream, and ice are all dumped in vast quantities together into Sam's artificial pineapple. In the background, the DJ starts to play a familiar tune.
I was tired of my lady, we'd been together too long, like a worn-out recording, of a favourite song. So while she lay there sleeping, I read the paper in bed, and in the personals column, there was this letter I read …
With a collective grin, everyone bursts into song: "If you like piña coladas, and getting caught in the rain …"
Radev is right, piña colada is the ultimate feel-good drink. And when you drink it, it is nigh on impossible not to have this song strike up in your head. Of course, the DJ had to play it.
But my mind has begun to wander onto more practical issues. How, I wonder, will they mix it all together? There's no way you could lift it to shake it, and stirring would take some effort.
It seems Radev is ahead of me in the imaginative stakes, as he steps forward with a cement mixer.
"I've never used one of these before in my life," he confesses. "So this will be interesting."
He hovers over the butt, mixer in both hands, plunges it into the alcohol, and it begins to churn the contents, as the crowd around him roars.
"YES!" he shouts. "It works!"
The cocktail swirls like shower water spiralling around the plughole but what a sweet drainage it is.
"It worked way better than I thought," says Radev, with some relief. "And it tastes amazing too!"
People clutching polystyrene cups are all jostling to get to the tap to taste the fruit of their labours. If there's anyone in this room who doesn't like piña coladas, you wouldn't guess it right now.
"It tastes amazing!" says Radev, cup in hand. "I'm so happy and proud."
Someone strikes up a rhythm on conga drums, girls in plunge-neck tops and grass skirts shimmy forward, and everyone starts to dance. Including Trader Sam, who pulls a few slinky moves, disposable cup in hand.
No one cares and why should they? There's a giant, world-record breaking piña colada in the room, and a party is the only justifiable response.
This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES in October 2016.