Your Next Holiday Drink Sensation: The Coquito

A quick post to share a recipe which several people asked for after my social media post.

The Coquito is a sinfully rich drink associated with Puerto Rico and Christmas. Some call it the Puerto Rican answer to Eggnog. I shall not describe its history and cultural significance here as there are many sources readily available.

After many years enjoying Coquitos at Seattle’s Rumba, I looked forward to another coquito season. But having moved to New Orleans, that wasn’t happening without a plane ticket. Luckily, I discovered Coquitos are incredibly easy to make!  You’ll spend more time finding the canned goods aisle in the grocery store than making the recipe.

There are many coquito recipes online to consider, all with similar base ingredients: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and cream of coconut.
Here’s what I settled on after several trial batches:

  • 1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
  • 1 can cream of coconut, ala Coco Lopez (14 oz)
  • 1 can sweetened, condensed milk (14 oz)
  • 2 cups lightly aged rum (Puerto Rican, ideally)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg

Makes about 1.5 quarts. Adjust spice quantities to suit your tastes.

Instructions:

  • Add all ingredients to a large blender.
  • Blend on high for 2 minutes.
  • Taste liberally. If not rummy enough, add more rum and blend again. Repeat until rummy.
  • Transfer to containers, e.g. Mason jars. Chill in refrigerator overnight.

But wait! There’s more!

After making several batches, I noticed that the cinnamon and other ground spices sink to the bottom and add a slightly gritty texture. Also, it seemed the spice flavor wasn’t fully extracted, due to the viscosity of the liquid.

Luckily, there’s an easy solution — Spiced rum!

Before your reach for your Captain Morgan or Kraken, remember that not all spiced rums are the same! What you have on hand may not have the spice flavors you’re after. But if The Captain is your jam, by all means, give it a whirl.

As well, keep in mind that most spiced rums are heavily sweetened. Believe me, the base coquito recipe is already quite sweet.

For my coquito, I wanted a drier and more refined spiced rum. Something like Chairman’s Reserve Spiced. Or Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum, which keeps things in the Puerto Rican domain.

If you have rums like this on hand, fantastic! If not, there’s an easy improvisation.

About an hour before you blend the ingredients together, put your rum in an airtight container. A Mason jar works well. Add the ground cinnamon and any other ground spices you desire. Shake occasionally to keep the rum and spice intermingling. If you want an even spicier rum, let it infuse for longer.

Essentially, you’re making a flash spiced rum. The alcohol in the rum works quickly to extract flavors from the spices. Much faster than the thick, cold coquito liquid does.

Should you not want the ground spices in the final coquito mix, simply strain the spiced rum through a very fine chinois strainer, or similar.


Making coquitos is super easy! Open cans, pour into blender, blend; So don’t feel constrained by the basic recipe above. Experiment with other additions like cloves, almond extract and other seasonal spices. Report back in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “Your Next Holiday Drink Sensation: The Coquito”

  1. Made with Don Q Gold (i.e., an unsweetened rum) this recipe resulted in a drink that is shockingly, burningly sweet. Although I’ve spent considerable time exploring Puerto Rico, I’ve never been there over the holidays and therefore have not tried Coquito before. I’m willing to accept that the average Coquito enthusiast may very well have a palate with a tolerance for sweetness higher than mine, but this recipe, even when ice cold, seems just way too sweet. I’ve got two thoughts. First, I wonder if perhaps coconut cream (i.e. not sweetened cream of coconut like Coco Lopez) might work better. Alternatively, digging around online for more Coquito recipes, I found several recipes almost identical to this one that also included a 15oz can of unsweetened coconut milk.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Every body has a different tolerance for sweetness.

      Most recipes I’ve seen specify cream of coconut, and often mention coco Lopez.

      Personally, I would first start by reducing the cream of coconut to see where that puts you.

      Good luck! And let us know what you find out.

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