This coquito recipe is dedicated to my sister. My sister has taught too many things over the years. Just two years my senior, we have always been close. As a kid, I looked up to my sister in awe and worship. To me, she was perfect. Smart, witty, stylish and thoughtful in ways that my young tomboy self was not. My sister took care of me. She reminded me about important things, like when mom’s birthday was, what style and color jeans were currently “in“, and how to properly put on eye liner. My sister was always there for me when I was scared at night, when friends were unkind and when I got in trouble, which seemed to happen often. She was (and remains) my best friend.
Growing up my sister and I shared a room, went to the same high school, attended the same collage and were roommates for several years pre-marriage. Till our mid-twenties, we were inseparable. We starting dating our husband the same year, and get married just six months apart. We both bought our first apartments in Brooklyn just blocks from each another so our kids, (who are similar ages) would also be close.
Brooklyn is where my sister first introduced me to coquito (pronounced koh-KEE-toh), which is a festive Puerto Rican holiday drink, very similar to eggnog, that’s popular during Christmas time. My sister served coquito during the holidays, typically on Christmas Eve, and I looked forward to it every year. Typically served chilled, coquito is a decadent coconut-based rum drink that is rich, creamy and smooth going down and I love it almost as much as I love my sister.
There is very little history available as to the origins of coquito, but some say Spanish and English settlers brought their version of this drink to the Caribbean, where it was adapted with readily available local ingredients. Literally translated, “little coconut”, it’s no surprise that once in the Caribbean, coconut found its way into the mix. Another ingredient that became traditional was canned evaporated and condensed milk. Despite trying alternatives, there is truly no substitution for the real stuff so don’t bother.
Sadly, I no longer live a few blocks from my sister, but we’re still as close as ever. Despite the distance, my sister continues to teach me things and I admire her even more than I once did. I see my sister (and her family) every year during Christmas and this year I will be making her a big batch of coquito in her honor.
Puerto Rican Coquito
- 1 (13.5-ounce) can full fat coconut milk (I prefer Goya)
- 1 (12-ounce can) evaporated milk
- 10-ounces sweetened condensed milk
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces white rum
- 6 cinnamon sticks, for garnish
- Step 1 Using a kitchen blender, add the coconut milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and vanilla extract. Blend on high for 1 minute.
- Step 2 Pour into a glass pitcher. Place in the refrigerator and allow to chill for at least 2 hours if not longer.
- Step 3 To serve: Mix gin the rum. Pour the coquito into small serving glasses (a little goes a long way), garnish with a cinnamon stick and serve.
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