How to mix a traditional Coquito, how to serve it and how to add even more flavor to it with porter ale.
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What is Coquito?
A Coquito is a thick, sweet, coconut flavored rum punch traditionally enjoyed on Christmas Eve in Puerto Rico. Over the years it has become popular to drink all throughout December, even into Three Kings’ Day. This time span is also known as Coquito season.
The name translates to little coconut from Spanish. An authentic Coquito drink is shamelessly sweet, overwhelmingly so – you may even call it a boozy liquid dessert.
There isn’t a single best way to prepare it – recipes differ from family to family, but overall they all include the following:
- Cream of coconut. By far the most frequently used brand is Coco Lopez. Be sure not to get coconut cream which is not sweetened.
- Evaporated milk. Cows milk with about sixty percent of the water removed. This is what is typically used to make dulce de leche.
- Sweetened condensed milk. Simply evaporated milk with sugar added. Ridiculously sweet and thicker.
- Rum. Typically a Puerto Rican brand, see the expanded notes below.
- Spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, even star anise are commonly added. We only added cinnamon sticks because we used spiced, barrel aged rum.
- A mixer liquid. Many recipes call for coconut water simmered with spices, then chilled, or coconut milk, or even water to thin out the viscous mixture. We went with porter ale brewed with coconut and the results were spectacular. Any porter ale or a milk stout will work well and impart desirable flavors.
NOTE: While some Americanized recipes influenced by the notion of eggnog call for an egg (Coquito con Huevo) this is not traditional. Flavored coquitos such as almond, Nutella and pistachio are also popular variations.
Best Rum to Use
As any Puerto Rican will tell you – the best rum for Coquito is from Puerto Rico, regardless of light or dark. There are families that make their Coquito with Don Q brand only, while others favor Bacardi. Yet others use brandy. And so on.
If you want to stay true to the authentic origins of the drink, choose Bacardi rum, Don Q, Palo Viejo, Ron del Barrilito or Llave.
In truth… there is so much sugar and so much coconut flavor going on that the actual taste and mouthfeel of the rum are obliterated. The fact that light and dark rum are considered interchangeable is a significant clue as to the fact that the flavor of the rum itself is not a driver.
We use whatever rum we happen to have in our home bar and especially like the dark spiced varieties. For this post we used a barrel aged Captain Morgan.
How to Make Coquito with Rum and Porter
The workflow is as simple as blending all the ingredients then adding cinnamon sticks to the mixture to further flavor it.
You can use a whisk to mix by hand or a blender.
- Start by adding the condensed milk, the evaporated milk and the cream of coconut to a bowl or blender.
- Measure out and add the rum.
- Add the thinning liquid, in our case we added coconut porter, and any spices.
- Whisk or blend and finally submerge the cinnamon sticks.
How to Store Coquito – does it need to be refrigerated?
Typically the freshly prepared mixture is transferred to and stored in glass swing top bottles. The cinnamon sticks remain in it to lend it flavor over time.
Given that the drink is centered around high alcohol and sugar, both excellent preservatives, refrigeration is not required. Regardless, we place ours in the fridge and recommend that you do the same.
How Long Does Coquito Last in the Fridge
Between refrigeration and the potent preservative properties of alcohol and sugar the tasty drink can last for months – much longer than you will need to drink it.
How to Serve Coquito
Typically it’s served chilled, without ice and very often with the addition of more rum.
- If you are comfortable with the rum already in the drink simply take it out of the fridge, shake the bottle a bit and pour into glasses.
- If you want the extra rum:
- fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add rum (to taste)
- add Coquito mix (to taste vis-a-vis the rum) and shake
- pour into a glass
- garnish with cinnamon stick or a small pinch of cinnamon and serve
TIP: You can use finely shredded coconut to rim the glasses for an extra fancy touch. Pour a bit of Coquito mixture onto a small plate and a bit of coconut shavings onto another, then dip the rims of the glasses into each.
Beware the alcohol content!
Drink responsibly cannot be overemphasized in the case of this cocktail. Especially if you added that extra shot of rum to yours or are enjoying it in a larger glass. Not to mention if you are at high altitude or counting calories.
Other Cocktails You Might Enjoy
- 1 cup rum*
- 1 can cream of coconut (about 12 oz)
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk (about 12 oz)
- 1 can evaporated milk (about 12 oz)
- 8 oz porter ale or milk stout OR same quantity coconut water simmered with cinnamon, then cooled down
- pinch of nutmeg or ground cinnamon or ground clove or star anise or 1 tsp vanilla extract, all to taste and optional
- cinnamon sticks, as needed
TO MIX COQUITO
Combine all the liquid ingredients plus any spices into a large bowl or a blender. Whisk or process to blend well. Add 1-2 cinnamon sticks to the mixture and chill in the fridge.
Transfer the Coquito mixture to a swing top bottle, keep cinnamon stick inside. Store refrigerated.
Pour chilled Coquito into glass and garnish with cinnamon stick or pinch of cinnamon.**
TO SERVE WITH EXTRA RUM
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add a bit of rum (to taste), add Coquito mixture, shake and strain into a glass. Serve garnished with cinnamon stick.
*Puerto Rican varieties such as Don Q and Bacardi are traditional, but dark spiced varieties such as Jamaican Captain Morgan make great contenders.
**Coquito is served chilled, no ice in the glass.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 356 Total Fat: 11g Saturated Fat: 8g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 26mg Sodium: 166mg Carbohydrates: 24g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 16g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 6g