Ho HO HO and a Ho- Lotta Rum: Coquito, a Puerto Rican Christmas Drink

Tonight, a toast.

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To you.

And for that toast, I offer a drink. I know, shocking. I don’t do enough drinks, but the truth is that I don’t often drink myself, so it seems a waste to brew up a cocktail that I don’t want. I’d rather eat my alcohol, and thanks to much of Western Europe, I have the well-stocked liquor cabinet to prove it.

Last year for my holiday series, I asked some of my friends to share their family’s recipes and stories. While I took a bit of a different turn this year, a late night phone call with Mango led to me asking her for a holiday treat, and she offered the rum drink coquito. And I like rum. So I made it. And drank it. And loved it. And now you can, too.

Coquito is essentially a very delicious, very strong coconut rum egg nog. Yeah. It is as good as it sounds.

Here is what Mango has to say about it:

**Warning from me: Mango both writes and speaks in a stream of consciousness manner. I’m not kidding when I say that emails from her tend to be a page of run-on sentences with one topic flowing into another until it abruptly ends. It’s funny, cute and totally in character, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.**

“When I think of the holidays I think of coquito. Similar to eggnog, most Latino-Caribbean folks wouldn’t dream of drinking it at any other time of year. It’s creamy, rich, and boozy. Every family has its own closely guarded version. In fact, it can be such a secret that when my cousin asked for a recipe on the Mango Family Facebook page, she didn’t get any responses for like a week! I finally took pity and divulged that I add vanilla extract to mine.  It’s a very popular drink in Puerto Rico and is often brought over as a gift during holiday parties and feasts in the same way some folks in the States bring over wine or a casserole. I vividly recall being a little girl and seeing the adults having impromptu coquito tasting parties comparing the recipe of each lady of the house- not one of my uncles daring to say some other woman’s coquito was better! We cousins would try to outdo each other sneaking sips of glasses left lying around. When done right the rum is a background flavor so you don’t get that strong “alcohol” hit when you first sip it. One of the first times I felt like a grown-up was when I was included in the “psst ven a la cocina” [come to the kitchen!] group of women invited to come back to my aunt’s kitchen and be shown her batch of coquito in the fridge with hushed pride. [Lastly], it’s always drunk chilled. I imagine it’s so the sweetness doesn’t get cloying and because, hey it can be in 80’s and 90’s with humidity in the Caribbean during Christmas. Buen Provecho!”

Coquito
Rich, boozy, creamy holiday drink
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Total Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 can evaporated milk (may substitute unsweetened coconut milk if you prefer)
  2. ½ cup coconut flakes (sweetened or unsweetened, either is fine)
  3. 3 large egg yolks, separated or 4 small egg yolks, separated.
  4. 1 TB sugar
  5. 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  6. 1 cup dark spiced rum, plus 1-2 tablespoons
  7. ½ tsp vanilla extract
  8. ¼ tsp almond extract
  9. ½ of a vanilla bean pod
  10. Cinnamon stick, star anise, or nutmeg for garnish.
  11. To store: wash and disinfect a pretty wine bottle or similar
Instructions
  1. Toast the coconut flakes. Combine the can of evaporated milk and toasted coconut flakes to infuse the evaporated milk for about 20-30 minutes. Allow the milk to cool, drain coconut flakes out and discard.
  2. Make a zabaglione (custard)-like mixture by assembling a double boiler with boiling water and place the 3 separated egg yolks in the top part along with 1 tablespoon of sugar.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks until pale and frothy or fluffy and it has increased in volume.
  4. Add 1 or 2 TB of the rum to the egg custard and whisk until incorporated for the last 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the eggs from the double boiler. Allow it to cool while you work on the other steps.
  5. In a blender, combine the can of condensed milk, the extracts, scrape the vanilla bean pod and reserve pod for vanilla sugar or other use. Add the cooled coconut evaporated milk/coconut milk. Blend on low until all ingredients mixed.
  6. Add the cool egg custard/zabaglione and blend on low 20-30 seconds. Finally, add the rum, ¼ cup at a time, blend 20-30 seconds in between, until you’ve reached the desired boozy level.
  7. Pour with a funnel into your washed wine bottle and cork.
Notes
  1. I find it tough to control the heat at the same time I’m keeping a handle on my gerrymandered double boiler and whisking so I just take the top part with the eggs on and off the heat to make sure I don’t do scrambled eggs.
  2. Some folks will let this sit for a few days before drinking so that the flavors fully develop and meld but its ready for consuming right away. Drink 5 ounce portions chilled garnished with a cinnamon stick, star anise, or nutmeg. Star anise is pretty but I find that nutmeg is the ideal touch to bring out the smoke and spice of the rum and cut the sweetness. Most recipes also only call for evaporated and condensed milk, rum, and cinnamon and that’s it. This recipe is my way of making it more flave-interesting.
  3. Many recipes for coquito call for white rum. I happen to think the spiciness of dark rum is better suited to the sweetness of this drink. The zabaglione/egg custard is my addition so that it gets a similar consistency and richness of egg nog. The almond extract is in there because I think it complements coconut nicely. I’ve also tried this with half coconut rum and half spiced rum and that was good though I didn’t think the coconut flavor was much stronger at all.
The Hungary Buddha Eats the World http://thehungarybuddha.com/

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 Ok, I just realized this glass is totally inappropriate. Gotta love New Orleans class.

 

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 I don’t own a blender. This is what I’m working with.  Don’t judge-it works quite well.

 

**Notes from the author:  Some folks will let this sit for a few days before drinking so that the flavors fully develop and meld but its ready for consuming right away. Drink 5 ounce portions chilled garnished with a cinnamon stick, star anise, or nutmeg. Star anise is pretty but I find that nutmeg is the ideal touch to bring out the smoke and spice of the rum and cut the sweetness. Most recipes also only call for evaporated and condensed milk, rum, and cinnamon and that’s it. This recipe is my way of making it more flave-interesting.

Many recipes for coquito call for white rum. I happen to think the spiciness of dark rum is better suited to the sweetness of this drink. The zabaglione/egg custard is my addition so that it gets a similar consistency and richness of egg nog. The almond extract is in there because I think it complements coconut nicely. I’ve also tried this with half coconut rum and half spiced rum and that was good though I didn’t think the coconut flavor was much stronger at all.**

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Cheers!

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