Before we go any further with this Coquito post, I want to remind you that I’m a married woman. I’m won’t tolerate any disrespect to the Soldier. So, that means no marriage proposals, no sending flowers (especially orchids or lilies), and no diamond rings in size seven. I won’t stand for it. You may let me know how blessed you are to have me in your life, however. Oh! And make sure tell me I’m pretty throughout your speech.
What is Coquito?
Coquito translates to “little coconut” in English. So, basically, it’s a drink with a lil’ bit of coconut and a whole lotta rum, LOL!!! No…well, yes…it is. Especially when it comes to my coquito. In Puerto Rico, where my mother was born, this creamy libation is most often served during the holiday season. Technically, you can make it whenever you want to; but, traditionally, it’s served beginning at Thanksgiving through to Three King’s Day on January sixth.
Of course, with the migration of Puerto Ricans to the mainland, coquito was brought to the cities where they settled. My mami (my mother, Luisa) had her first taste of traditional eggnog and recoiled. She enjoyed how creamy it was compared to coquito, but hated the bourbon and nutmeg. Mami began adding eggs to her coquito and that’s how I was raised making it. I consulted the Soldier (a born and bred Puerto Rican), but since he was raised in a family of teetotalers, he was worthless to my research. His Tia (aunt) Ada, though, she confirmed that traditional coquito is, in fact, NOT made with eggs. So, I’m giving you both.
If you have a Puerto Rican friend in your life, and you’ve never tasted coquito lay on the guilt trip heavy. You’ll notice I said, “tasted.” My personal friends bet’ NOT say a word, because I’ve supplied you with abundant amounts of coquito throughout the years.They have deprived you. Once again, because I’m giving this to you, copious amounts of adoration and shares are expected.
What’s in it?
Traditionally, coquito contains freshly-squeezed coconut milk, made from grated and soaked coconut flesh. Um…advancement in the field of culinary arts has made life a lot easier for me than it was for my grandmother- so…cream of coconut from a can it is! Cream of coconut, or crema de coco, is similar to heavy cream. The the grated coconut separates with the heavier cream rising to the top of the can, and you’re left with a very concentrated coconut cream. But! Since I LOOOOVE my coquito to be very coconutty, I also add coconut milk to my version.
I think by now, you’ve realized that I’m extra- in my recipes, in my writing, and in my life. Following protocol, instead of adding just one type of rum- the commonly used white Barcardí- I add three. Don’t get excited. I used to add Bacardí 151 rum, bourbon, brandy, AND vodka; so, I basically made coconut moonshine. I’ve settled down a lot in my older years, though. Now, I just add a variety of “calmer” rums: white, spiced, and gold. You can use my three or just go with your favorite. Try to stick with a Puerto Rican rum, or a Caribbean one, at the very least. It’s just traditional.
Easiest Thing You’ve Ever Blended
Start by pouring a can of coconut milk into the carafe of your blender. Please, promise me three things: first, that you will use full-fat coconut milk. This recipe is a full-body, creamy drink. You won’t accomplish that with low-fat coconut milk. Second, that you won’t bother with trying to find out the calorie count of this drink. I mean, let’s be honest, it’s the holiday season and we’re all bound to put on a little weight. Embrace it. Third, don’t use refrigerated coconut milk. This is piggy-backing on the full-fat requirement. Refrigerated coconut milk is diluted with other ingredients, namely water and carrageenan (seaweed) to thicken it; whereas canned coconut milk is more concentrated.
Add the cream of coconut to the blender as well. That fat cap is something you can just poke with a rubber spatula to break apart. When the coquito has been mixed (and settles) you may, or may not, you may also have a thin layer of the cream on top of your coquito. That’s just some of that heavier cream rising to the top of the drink.
Follow the cream of coco (I’m just going to refer to it by its Spanish name since I’m lazy) with the sweetened condensed milk. This not only makes it creamy, but sweetens the coquito as well. Make sure to use your rubber spatula to get all of the thick, syrupy milk out.
The last type of milk you’re going to add is evaporated milk. This creamy milk makes the coquito really decadent and gives great mouthfeel to the drink. Again, don’t use low-fat, that just won’t do.
Again, me being extra, I like to give my coquito additional flavor, which makes people rack their brains to figure out it is. Now, that cat’s coming out of the bag. I add a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract to the milks in the blender.
Also, add a pinch of salt. I add salt to most of my recipes because, without it, they tend to taste bland. If you are on a low-sodium diet, just omit it. It’ll still taste great- the alcohol will make sure of that.
There are more flavorings to be added, but first…
Add Some Life to the Party
…the booze! Again, if you only have one type of rum, just use that. I keep a fully-stocked bar, so I have a few to choose from. As I mentioned before, I used to use 151, which is rum that is SEVENTY-FIVE POINT FIVE percent alcohol by volume. Most rums fall between thirty-five and forty percent. Soooooo…yeah, you needed a designated driver to sip my coquito. It’s the way my mother taught me, and the rum mellowed out after we let it cure, so I never had a complaint. But, it turns out Bacardí discontinued 151. Maybe people were going blind?
That’s none of my business- add a half-cup of Barcardí Gold rum to the blender. Gold is a style of rum that’s been aged in toasted oak barrels which mellows it out and darkens the color. You can buy a fifth or two mini bottles if you don’t keep it on hand normally.
Add the same amount of Spiced Rum. I like to use Captain Morgan, but any will do. I know, I know, it’s a Jamaican rum, but it’s the only spiced rum I enjoy. Spiced rum has a caramel-y flavor that adds a note to my coquito that reminds me of winter. As with the Gold rum, buy two minis or a fifth and you’ll have just enough for this recipe.
The final rum is a double-aged Barcardí Maestro, which I prefer over their Superior rum because it’s been aged longer. The longer it ages, the more mellow it tastes; it has a honey note to it. Like the aging of the rum, the coquito (when aged or cured), mellows out and all of this rum you’re adding is barely detectable. The jury’s still out on whether that’s a good thing or a bad one.
If you’re not into alcohol, substitute the rums for an equal amount of water. That heavy, cream mix needs to be diluted with something if you’re not using the liquor.
Finishing the Mix
One of the main flavors in coquito, besides the rum and the coconut, is cinnamon. Those three combined scream “PUERTO RICO AT CHRISTMAS” to me. I add a half-tablespoon (one and half teaspoons) of ground cinnamon to the blender. Make sure to sprinkle it out over the surface of the mixture. If you dump it in one spot, you’ll end up with lumps of cinnamon in your coquito. It’s annoying.
I also add a quarter teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and a pinch of ground allspice. Those two aren’t traditional, that’s just me being extra- again. It does, however, make my coquito different from the others, so there.
Blend, Bottle, and Cure
Note: at this point, if you want to make an eggnog-type of coquito, add four large egg yolks. If not, just keep it moving. Use the freshest eggs you have access to in order to avoid any illnesses. As with any recipe that includes raw eggs, the chance of contracting a foodborne illness is higher. Consume any coquito made with eggs at your own risk.
Blend the mixture for a minute, stop the blender and scrape down any spices that have stuck to the sides of the carafe. Blend again for another thirty seconds to a minute. I tend to blend longer to break down that cream of coco.
Add two, or three, cinnamon sticks to two one-liter swing-top bottles. Again, cinnamon is a prominent flavor in coquito, so in addition to the ground cinnamon, I cure the coquito with two or three cinnamon sticks. You can omit them if you don’t keep cinnamon sticks on hand.
Grab a funnel and pour the blended coquito into the bottles. Leave a headspace of at least one inch at the top of each bottle for shaking later. This recipe makes just under one gallon of coquito. Cap the bottles and refrigerate. You need to let the coquito cure for at least forty-eight hours to achieve that mellow, unsuspectingly-dangerous flavor. As the coquito mellows, that alcohol smooths out and is almost unnoticeable.
Serve and Sip
After your coquito has cured, just give it a vigorous shake to mix the spices that will have settled, serve it, then sip. I mean, it’s a rich, dessert-like libation- and it’s potent- so, sipping seems like the right thing to do. The Soldier and I don’t, but you should do as I say, not as I do. I love to serve the coquito in these coupes from Crate and Barrel. They look classy, and you feel like you have a lot, which stops you from becoming the drunk aunt or uncle who embarasses the family at every holiday event.
The alcohol in this recipe will cure the coquito for a long time. Even with the addition of eggs, it’s good for at least a year. It may even be good for a longer period of time, I’ve just never had enough restraint to test the timeline. Last year’s batch, which contained eggs, lasted until last month. It tasted even smoother and more profound cured, as it was, for eleven months. However, the virgin coquito will only be good for about a week, or so. I would make it when you know you’re going to be able to finish it within that time.
Remember to share this recipe and shame the Puerto Rican friends who have withheld this from you. If you’ve been blessed to have tasted it, return the favor by making your own batch. Pin this recipe to find it easily for your Christmas batch, too!
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Coquito: Puerto Rican Cinnamon & Coconut-Rum Cocktail
This staple of the Puerto Rican holiday season needs to become a tradition of yours.
Special Equipment Needed:
2 one-liter swing-top bottles (or bottles with screw-on caps)
- 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
- 15 ounce can cream of coconut
- 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 12 ounce can evaporated milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- pinch kosher salt
- 1/2 cup Bacardí Gold rum
- 1/2 cup Spiced Rum
- 1 cup Bacardí Maestro white rum
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- pinch ground allspice (optional)
- 6 sticks cinnamon (optional, used for bottling)
Optional Eggnog Version
- 4 large very fresh egg yolks
In the carafe of your blender, combine the coconut milk, cream of coconut, condensed milk, and the evaporated milk.
Add the vanilla extract and salt to the mixture.
Pour in all three types of rum.
Sprinkle the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice onto the surface of the ingredients in the blender, then blend for one minute on low speed.
Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the blender, then blend for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute on medium speed.
Add two, or three, of the cinnamon sticks to each of the empty bottles.
Use a funnel to pour the blended coquito into the bottles, leaving at least 1" of headspace in each bottle.
Cap the bottles and refrigerate for at least 48 hours to age.
Just prior to serving, give the coquito a vigorous shake to mix the spices that will have settled.
Add the egg yolks to the blender just after adding the spices. Continue as instructed above.
Substitute water for the rums. Make as instructed.
- The alcohol in this recipe will cure the eggless coquito for at least a year- maybe longer.
- Use the freshest eggs you have access to to avoid any illnesses. As with any recipe that includes raw eggs, the chance of contracting a foodborne illness is higher. Consume any coquito made with eggs at your own risk.
- With the addition of eggs, it's good for at least a year as well.
- Virgin coquito will only be good for about a week, or so. I would make it when you know you're going to be able to finish it within that time.
Try these other festive libations: