What Is Coquito? The Puerto Rican Holiday Drink and How to Make It

We asked a Puerto Rican chef for their take on this holiday drink.

December 06, 2021

This is the receipe for Coquito

Photo by: Kate Mathis

Kate Mathis

By: Hadiya Presswood

The holiday season is upon us, and whether your family is gathering, you’re hosting a friends-giving or you want something new and festive, coquito is one beverage to try. We spoke to Jessie Marrero, general manager of Puerto Rican restaurant Qui Qui DC, to learn what coquito is and how to make it.

What is Coquito?

Coquito is a seasonal, Puerto Rican beverage made with vanilla, coconut milk, coconut cream, rum and spices. Coquito means "little coconut", but that doesn’t mean you want to skimp on the coconut when making it ­­ that’s where the signature taste comes from. The measurements of some of the ingredients can be adjusted according to personal taste. Marrero says experimenting with proportions and flavors is a great way to develop your signature coquito. “Culturally, this is Puerto Rico’s largest drink during the holiday season. It signifies the coming of Christmas. It is served to friends, family, and guests. Every family has their own unique recipe that’s usually a carefully guarded secret. It’s a signature (drink) to celebrate life, success, love and culture,” said Marrero.

How To Make Coquito

According to Food Network's recipe, which calls for cream of coconut, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, unsweetened coconut milk, white rum, vanilla extract, cinnamon and nutmeg, this recipe comes together quickly in a blender. Place all the ingredients in a blender, blend until frothy and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Serve chilled with a cinnamon stick and dusted with nutmeg and .

Does Coquito Have to Contain Alcohol?

A staple ingredient in coquito is rum, and to get your coquito as close to authentic as possible, the unspoken rule is to use Puerto Rican rum. But if you’re looking to create a non-alcoholic coquito, you can also try rum extract. “Go easy on the booze at first,” Marrero advises. “It’s not supposed to slap you in the face; it’s supposed to warm you up slowly.” Of course, you can modify how much rum you use according to personal preference, keeping in mind that the key to a good coquito is aging in the fridge for a few days before serving.

Does It Need To Be Refrigerated?

When your coquito is ready, it’s best to serve it chilled. Some people like to add cinnamon sticks or a dash of nutmeg for garnish. The shelf life of coquito can be anywhere from four to eight weeks, so be sure to store it refrigerated in an airtight container. The ingredients may settle between servings, particularly if you used eggs, so be sure to stir before you pour.

Difference Between Coquito and Eggnog

Although they might seem similar, coquito and eggnog are different beverages entirely— coquito’s base being rum and coconut and eggnog’s base being egg and cream (with the optional addition of rum or brandy). Eggs are not a part of traditional coquito recipes, but over time some recipes have changed to include them. It’s important to note that coquito recipes that contain eggs or are non-alcoholic have a shorter shelf life.

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