Food and drink have a powerful ability to make a holiday very special and one such drink is Coquito, a Puerto Rican, tropical version of eggnog that is traditionally enjoyed around the holiday season. The name Coquito can be translated to mean, ‘little coconut’ and since this holiday drink is flavored generously with rum and coconut, we think that the name is very apt.
Just one sip of Coquito will transport you to a sunny island where palm trees sway in the wind, and a crystal blue sea laps a sandy shore – it really is the island spirit in a bottle. Although delicious and tempting all year round, Coquito is typically made and reserved especially for the holidays, with families returning to their own historic family recipes that have been passed down through their generations whenever they decide to recreate the taste they have known and loved for years.
Whether you’ve never tasted the delights of Coquito before or have had a recipe in your family for generations, Coquito Day marks the perfect time to enjoy this holiday beverage before the major days of the holiday season begin. Serve it up cold in a shot glass and dust the rim with cinnamon for a traditional Coquito experience, and don’t forget to share it far and wide with your family and friends in the holiday spirit.
History of Coquito Day
Coquito Day may be a relatively new invention ( it was started by Destileria Serralles in 2018 who conveniently are the company that makes DON Q®, a leading brand of rum in Puerto Rico) but the drink itself has a more historic origin. The exact origins of Coquito can be debated, but it is generally believed that the first-ever version of the Coquito drink and the same one that we enjoy today, was made in the early 1900s, becoming famous between 1950 and 1970 thanks to being published in several leading Puerto Rican cookbooks including Cocine a Gusto and The Puerto Rican Cookbook. Over the years as more people tried Coquito, news of its delicious and tropical taste spread, until today where it can be enjoyed all over the world.
As to what led to the invention of the modern Coquito, some people think that it was originally introduced to Puerto Rico by the Spanish during the colonial era, with Puerto Rican rum eventually replacing Caribbean Rum and tropical coconut being added to the recipe to give it an island flavor. Whatever the original origins of Coquito, one thing’s for sure – it’s delicious – and we take our hat off to whoever is responsible for its creation.
How to make Coquito
If you were to ask three different Puerto Rican families how to make Coquito, you will probably be given three different recipes by each of them, because as a home-made drink, most families have their own secret recipes that they have handed down through their generations. Although the recipe for Coquito may not be exactly known, there are many recipes to follow online and it always calls for four key ingredients, milk, cream of coconut, condensed milk, and Puerto Rican Rum, such as DON Q® or PALO VIEJO®. Although you can technically use any brand of rum in a Coquito recipe, you should really try to make it with a traditional Puerto Rican rum for the most authentic taste.
If coconut isn’t to your fancy, then why not try chocolate, almond, or pistachio which are all evolutions of the traditional coconut flavored Coquito, and for children or those abstaining from alcohol then the rum can be omitted for a deliciously creamy alternative. Coquito can even be recreated without dairy altogether, making it suitable for vegans – if there’s a will, there’s a way, so don’t let the traditional ingredients of this beverage put you off trying to make it. Once you’ve settled on a recipe that takes your fancy, simply add all the ingredients to a blender, blitz to combine et-voila – a Coquito is born!
For the best Coquito, make up the batch in advance with your family, fill it with love, and then refrigerate it in the fridge for at least 4 hours but ideally for up to 3 days. Chilling the Coquito batch before serving allows the flavors to mingle and the taste to develop and you’ll have a thicker and taster drink by the end of it. Then on Coquito Day, serve it up fresh and cold straight from the fridge in a cinnamon-dusted glass and enjoy as an aperitif or after-dinner drink. Coquito really doesn’t taste the same when drunk without the company of family and friends, to be sure to hold a Coquito gathering and to share it far and wide.
How to celebrate Coquito Day
Traditions can easily get lost in our fast-paced modern world, and so it’s important to take the time to celebrate them and to pass them down onto younger generations. Drinking a holiday glass of Coquito is one such tradition that is being kept alive thanks to the invention of Coquito Day.
Coquito is a social holiday drink and is supposed to be shared among family and friends which means that the best way to celebrate Coquito Day is to do just that – crack open a batch, gift some to your friends and relatives, cozy up and then raise a collective toast to celebrate Puerto Rican heritage and the delicious taste of Coquito.
Let the tropical coconut taste transport you to the sunny island and the Puerto Rican rum warm your cockles and take a moment to appreciate this special drink. Another great way to celebrate Coquito Day is to prepare a fresh batch that you can then share with your family and friends in just a few day’s time, which usually ends up landing on Christmas Day. Tie a ribbon around the top, write on the label that it was made with love, and share a little piece of Puerto Rican history with your family.