Coquito, which translates to “little coconut,” is a traditional Puerto Rican holiday drink that kicks off the season of festivities. “As the densest population of Puerto Rican people living outside of the island, Nuyoricans have preserved the custom of gifting coquito to lovers and friends around Christmas time,” says test kitchen coordinator Inés Anguiano. The first time she tried Coquito was in Bushwick; a friend’s cousin poured Inés a glass from a frosty, repurposed Hennessy bottle. And now, it wouldn’t be the holiday season without it.
This traditional coquito recipe combines creamy milks (a can of evaporated milk, coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, and cream of coconut) and warm spices, with a generous glug of punchy rum. Inés calls for white rum here—ideally Puerto Rican rum, like Bacardí or Don Q—but you can swap in dark rum for more syrupy, spiced notes (just avoid coconut rum, which has a more artificial coconut flavor). If you have time, soak a few cinnamon sticks in the bottle of rum for a few days to infuse it with woodsy spice. Since this coquito recipe requires some chill time, you can blend it well in advance—store it in a pitcher or funnel into an empty liquor bottle for less prep time day-of.
Though it’s sometimes dubbed Puerto Rico’s eggnog, many recipes for coquito—including this one—omit the raw eggs. That means it lasts for a while in the fridge, so you can sip on this creamy coconut drink well into the New Year. Whether you’re serving the drink in cocktail glasses or mason jars, garnish the rim with shredded coconut for the full Puerto Rican coquito experience.
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