Coquito 101

Coquito is a creamy rum and coconut punch from Puerto Rico. It’s frequently described as Puerto Rican eggnog, but this feels like a disservice both to coquito, which is unabashedly tropical with its coconut and rum, and to eggnog, which is fine and all if it’s your thing, but tends to conjure up images of curdled eggs and the woolly coating that stays on your teeth if you drink a too-sweet alcoholic beverage and then don’t practice proper dental hygiene until the next morning. (No? Just me?)

I first made coquito in December 2014, when visiting my parents, who lived in Puerto Rico at the time. After looking through a few recipes, I settled on one from Alejandra Ramos’s blog, Always Order Dessert. “With any traditional recipes there’s hot debate about what the real version is, about what’s right and what’s not,” says the New York-based food writer and recipe developer. “Some people think it should be made with egg, some people think absolutely not.” The recipe below, adapted from Ramos, is made without eggs, partly because the inclusion of raw eggs in a beverage doesn’t really appeal to me, but also, as Ramos explains, adding egg makes the drink more custard-like in texture. Without the egg, it’s still thick and creamy, but the nuances of the coconut really shine.

Another plus to this recipe: It requires merely opening several cans, blending their contents with a few spices, adding rum and chilling the whole mixture for several hours. No hacking through a fresh coconut to carefully craft your own fresh coconut milk. No tedious measuring or annoying leftover bits of ingredients — you’ll use one can each of coconut milk, cream of coconut, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. And this coquito wholly embraces the big batch ease of punch while packing quite a bit of it in the form of three cups of rum.

If you like coconut and rum, then you will like this. But coquito is more than just a very strong and delicious drink. It’s also key to holiday traditions such as parrandas, or the Puerto Rican version of caroling, where people go house to house singing songs, eating pasteles (similar to tamales) and arroz con dulce (rice pudding), sipping coquito and picking up people along the way.

Coquito also brings memories of family.

“My grandmother, but especially my father, was the one who taught me how to make it,” says Bronx resident Virgen Bonafé, the mother of a friend. Bonafé’s recipe includes 12 egg yolks and a “tea” made by boiling cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks and sometimes ginger to help with digestion. (It’s a rich drink!) She serves it well chilled, but not over ice, which can make it watery. “This is the thing,” she says, “It has to be really creamy. That’s why people don’t drink a cup, they drink little cups of it. It’s not a drink to have a lot.”

As for the alcohol, there are many, many ways to go. “Over here in New York they like to really put a lot of rum,” Bonafé says. (Same.) Bacardi or Don Q are common, but you might also see versions made with aged or spiced rum, cognac and tequila.

12ouncescanned evaporated milk

14ouncescanned, sweetened condensed milk

15ouncescanned cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez brand (see headnote)

14ouncescanned, full-fat coconut milk

2cupswhite rum, such as Don Q or Bacardi

1cupgold rum, such as Don Q or Bacardi Gold

1tablespoonvanilla extract or vanilla paste

1teaspoonground cinnamon

Freshly grated nutmeg, for serving

3-inch cinnamon sticks, for garnish (optional)

Step 1

Working in batches, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, cream of coconut and coconut milk in a blender; puree until smooth, pouring the blended mixture into a large mixing bowl as you go. Blend the rums, vanilla extract or paste and the ground cinnamon with some of the coconut mixture, then whisk all of the liquids together in the bowl.

Step 2

Pour into a pitcher or glass bottles and jars with lids (with the aid of a funnel, if you have one). Seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until very cold.

Step 3

Before serving, stir or shake well to break up any solids. (If you find any remaining solids unpleasant, simply strain the coquito through a fine-mesh strainer.)

Step 4

Pour into small glasses; garnish each portion with a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg and a cinnamon stick, if desired.

Adapted from a recipe at AlwaysOrderDessert.com.

Tested by Kara Elder; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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For a printer-friendly and scalable version of this recipe, view it here.

The nutritional analysis is based on 36 servings.

NUTRITION

Calories: 170; Total Fat: 6 g; Saturated Fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 5 mg; Sodium: 35 mg; Carbohydrates: 16 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugars: 15 g; Protein: 2 g.

Source –  Washington Post