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In Bartending, what is a Lava Flow?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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A lava flow is a blended alcoholic drink that builds on the more familiar pina colada, and the strawberry daiquiri. It is a popular drink in Hawaii, and in other tropical type resorts. The drink can also be delicious without alcohol. In fact, it makes an excellent drink or smoothie for a kid’s party.

The traditional lava flow is made with a shot, or 1.5 ounces (.044 liters) of light rum, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, pureed strawberries, half a banana, and crushed ice. To achieve the proper appearance of the lava flow, the strawberry puree is poured into the glass first.

Most bartenders prefer a hurricane glass for serving the lava flow. This is a stemmed tall glass that curves inward at the bottom, and then pushes outward at the top. It somewhat resembles the traditional curves of a woman’s figure.

The strawberry puree is poured in first because it will partially mix through the drink, creating a mainly white drink that looks like it has red lava flowing through it. Blending all the ingredients together can still make a nice drink, but it will not have the satisfying lava flow look.

Some bartenders insist on the addition of both lime juice and strawberry schnapps. This may add more alcoholic content to the drink. Some bartenders also omit the banana. The lava flow may also be served with a glass dipped in powdered sugar, and it may contain coconut milk as well.

A finished lava flow may also be garnished with fruit, such as chunks of pineapples and mango. It is also sometimes known as an “umbrella” drink, since it is frequently garnished with a small paper umbrella.

Because the drink is sweet, the taste of the rum can be negligible. This means the lava flow joins a host of other drinks that are quickly consumed without care to the fact that they do contain a shot, or more, of alcohol. One should keep track of the number of drinks, since it is fairly easy to overdo it on sweet drinks. As well, enjoy a lava flow without guilt by providing a designated driver for the evening.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By motherteresa — On Oct 28, 2008

This is a nice drink. I indulge myself with a lava flow when in Hawaii.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
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