Coquito is my favorite holiday drink, even though I didn’t grow up with it.
Growing up in the Midwest USA, my family drank eggnog during the winter holidays. We cooked it over the stove with egg yolks, and spiked it with whiskey when served. As I grew up and became interested in flavors and traditions from around the world, I came across the holiday beverage from the of tropical land of Puerto Rico known as Coquito.
What Is Coquito?
When I’m bartending, I explain Coquito as “the Puerto Rican version of Eggnog”. It’s rich, creamy, boozy, and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Being the gringa that I am, I spent a lot of time researching authentic Puerto Rican coquito recipes online before I tried to make my own batch. Turns out, there are more than a few abuelitas on Instagram and Youtube sharing their wisdom with people like me que habla espanol y want to try this legendary holiday treat. (also – shoutout to what looks to be a whole coquito idustry thriving in Brooklyn! Felicidades!)
What I learned from the rabbithole is that coquito recipes have a lot of variation – some include eggs, some include raisins. They almost all include a combination of condensed milk, coconut cream, nutmeg, and rum. There’s a debate on the best rums to use, as well as the best brands of coconut cream.
I did my best to combine everything I learned from research and my experience making punches in the past to create my very own coquito recipe. After a few trials and tweaks, I’m ready to share it with you here.
How to Make Coquito
Like almost every punch, Coquito is a cocktail that shouldn’t be rushed. It turns out best when it’s made slowly and allowed to rest overnight inbetween steps and before serving. That doesn’t mean that you can’t slap it together on the same day you’re serving it, it just means it won’t be as good.
- 4 ounces raisins (dark or golden)
- 3 ounces Clement Coconut Rum
- 3 ounces Hennessy
- 3 ounces Don Q 151 Rum
- 12 ounces Bacardi Gold
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
- 10 ounces coconut cream (I use Coco Lopez)
- 4 ounces evaporated milk
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Day One: Combine all the booze in a jar with the raisins, ½ of the scraped vanilla bean, and 2 cinnamon sticks. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.
Day Two: Strain out the spices and raisins from the rum mixture and set aside. In a large container, use an immersion blender to combine the booze with the sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, coconut cream, evaporated milk, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, and the guts of ½ a vanilla bean. Keep in fridge overnight or for up to 1 month.
To Serve: Cold coquito will be VERY THICK. I recommend letting come up to room temperature or shaking it with ice to thin it out a bit before serving. Serve it over ice or neat. Garnish with a cinnamon stick, a sprinkle of nutmeg, and a spoonful of rum raisins.
To make this recipe vegan-friendly, all you have to do is swap out the evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk for evaporated coconut milk and sweetened condensed coconut milk. The rest of the ingredients are vegan-friendly.
You can make nonalcoholic coquito by simply omitting the booze from this recipe and adding 1 cup of coconut water instead. I highly recommend a few dashes of coconut or sugarcane vinegar to add some of the zing that will be missing.