As the winter holidays approach and we celebrate, get this…National Coquito Day, on December 21, we wanted to not only share a few recipes for the traditional Puerto Rican holiday cocktail, but also to offer up a bit of its history and significance within the Puerto Rican culture. Coquito is a drink we Puerto Ricans look forward to preparing and enjoying every single year. It’s continued to grow in popularity and as we share this wonderful drink with our friends, neighbors and co-workers, it’s become more and more popular, even outside of the Puerto Rican community.
History of Coquito
According to Newsweek, coquito—which means “little coconut”—is believed to have originated in the 1900s, although some accounts have suggested that the coconut-based rum cocktail has roots in the island’s colonial history. The first published recipes for coquito were in the cookbooks, Cocine a Gusto and The Puerto Rican Cookbook.
“In its simplest form, the traditional Coquito is made with coconut milk, coconut cream, condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and rum,” Discover Puerto Rico, tells HipLatina, noting that exact recipes can vary widely from family to family, and are often passed down from generation to generation. It’s also worth mentioning that coquito was originally made fresh coconuts by processing the coconut meat to make homemade coconut milk. Now, most people use canned milks to make coquito.
These days, many people get creative with their holiday coquito recipes, using more spices like ginger, star anise and sometimes even clove. Some make it with eggs, and others without, which is a choice that is highly debated amongst Puerto Ricans. Others, take it a step further and jazz up their coquito with flavorings like chocolate, pistachio and pumpkin. Different spirits including brandy and coconut rum are sometimes added as well.
No matter how you prepare it, one of the most important things to remember about coquito is that it’s meant to be shared. Coquito is typically prepared in large batches and stored in glass bottles, to be shared with and gifted to others. It’s the perfect last-minute, homemade holiday gift for neighbors, secret Santa gift for co-workers or Christmas gift for family members who don’t make their own.
Now, here are some coquito recipes to try out, including a non-alcoholic coquito recipe the whole family can enjoy:
Ingredients: 1 liter bottle of white rum, 15 oz. can cream of coconut, 16 oz. can coconut milk, 14 oz. can condensed milk, 12 oz. can evaporated milk, 2 tbsps. vanilla extract, cinnamon to taste
Directions: Pour all ingredients into a large punch bowl and mix. Refrigerate, then serve in individual cordial glasses or mugs. Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick.
Recipe courtesy of Bacardi.
Ingredients: 1 can evaporated milk, 1 can condensed milk, 1 can of sweetened coconut cream, 1 can of coconut milk, 1/2 cup of sugar, 3 egg yolks, 1 tsp. vanilla, 2 tsp. cinnamon powder, ½ tsp. nutmeg, 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 tbsp grated cooking chocolate, 1/4 tsp. salt
Directions: In a metal container combine the egg yolks with the sugar mixing with a metal spoon until the mixture is creamy and turns light yellow. Combine the milks, cream, salt and yolks in a blender. Add the vanilla, cinnamon powder and nutmeg and blend for 3–4 minutes. Finish by adding two cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon, or grated chocolate. Save in glass bottles or mason jars in the fridge. Chill for a day or two for flavors to incorporate well and enjoy. Serve in small cups and decorate with star anise, ground cinnamon or grated chocolate.
Recipe courtesy of Chef Diahann Smith of Leche de Florida.
Ingredients: 1 can condensed milk, 1 can evaporated milk, 1 can cream of coconut, ½ cup of white rum, ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon (add more to taste), ¼ cup of hot water, 1 ½ cups of cocoa powder (keep it 100% Puerto Rican by using Chocolate Cortés).
Directions: In a bowl, mix water and cocoa powder until creating a paste-like mixture. Cover the bowl and heat in the microwave (or stove) for two minutes until it melts. Add the cinnamon, mix, and let it simmer. In a blender, add the condensed milk and evaporated milk, cream of coconut, chocolate mixture, vanilla extract, and rum. Mix for 1 to 2 minutes until all is blended. Transfer the chocolate-coquito into glass bottles and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours. Garnish with coconut shavings or a cinnamon stick.
Recipe courtesy of Discover Puerto Rico.