Forget Eggnog: Rum-Spiked Puerto Rican Coquito Tastes So Much Better

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    Today is National Coquito Day, which means there’s no better time to try this creamy coconut milk and rum-based cocktail, a popular Christmas cocktail in Puerto Rico.

    Coquito, which means “little coconut” in Spanish, is made with a base of coconut milk, coconut cream, sweetened condensed milk, and sometimes evaporated milk. It is enriched with Puerto Rican rum and flavored with vanilla and cinnamon. Like eggnog, coquito is super rich and creamy and usually only served on holidays. But unlike the American “nog,” traditional coquito isn’t made with eggs. In Puerto Rico, families have their own secret recipes and there are many variations, such as guava, chocolate, and pistachio varieties, or additional spices such as nutmeg and aniseed. But the classic version flavored with cinnamon and vanilla is still the most popular.

    I had never tried coquito until last month when I visited the tasting room of the Ron del Barrilito rum distillery, just outside San Juan, Puerto Rico in Bayamón, where the company has been making small-batch premium rums the same way since 1880. After a tour of the distillery, the newly opened historic hacienda, an expert-led tasting of Barrilito’s two-, three-, four-, and five-star rums, and a mixology lesson, my group gathered at the tasting room bar for a drink and to taste. Lake.

    When our bartender offered our group—all visiting the island—if we’d ever had coquito, we all admitted we’d never heard of it. He explained that Puerto Ricans enjoy the “longest holiday season in the world,” which begins in November just after Thanksgiving and extends past Christmas and New Year’s Day, all the way through mid-January. And they drink coquito during that gloriously long festive season.

    When our bartender generously offered to share his freshly made batches of traditional, chocolate, and pumpkin coquito with us (the first batches of the season!), every local within earshot excitedly gathered around the bar, clamoring for a sample, too. The chocolate and pumpkin versions were delicious. But for me, the classic, creamy, cinnamon-scented version paired with Barrilito’s small batch rum – which develops complex notes like vanilla and almond as it ages in vintage Spanish white oak sherry casks – was impossible to beat.

    I asked Ron del Barrilito’s team to share their recipe for the celebratory cocktail, and a bit about its popularity:

    “Coquito is the quintessential holiday cocktail that originated in Puerto Rico. Its rich flavors are deeply rooted in our culture, but it has really captured the palate of people around the world,” said Maggie Matias, Chief Commercial Executive of Ron del Barrilito. Coquito recipes have been passed down through the generations and the drink is a staple of Puerto Rican holidays. What really takes the cocktail to the next level is fine, premium aged rums like our Ron del Barrilito Two Star light-medium bodied, premium rum with smoky, woody notes and flavors of caramelized fruit and sugar cane with a lingering oak finish.”

    Classic Coquito

    Yield: This bag batch recipe makes about 8 cocktails.

    1. Combine all ingredients except cinnamon sticks in a large container such as a large pitcher, bowl, or pot with at least 8 cups capacity.
    2. Combine all ingredients with an immersion blender or whisk and let cool for at least two hours.
    3. Serve and garnish each glass with a cinnamon stick.

    If you’re in Puerto Rico in January, be sure to check out Ron del Barrilito’s”Longest Christmas celebration.” Their special events during the holiday season extension, known as “Octavitas,” are held January 7-14 at their distillery and tasting room in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, just outside of San Juan.

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