Last weekend I discovered coquito, also known as “Puerto Rican egg nog,” even though it contains no eggs and is really nothing like egg nog.
A friend of mine, of Puerto Rican descent, posted a photograph to Facebook of a Starbucks sign for a coquito frappuccino. Now, I’ve not been in a Starbucks in a while so I’ve no idea if this photo were of recent vintage or from a previous holiday season. All that matters is that I was intrigued to discover that Puerto Rico has a traditional (and very good) Christmas drink, especially when my friend said that, to be authentic, it had to have rum.
I had rum!
Naturally, I spent an hour researching recipes online. (To my surprise, To Have and Have Another, a book of Ernest Hemingway-related cocktail recipes I wrote about here, had nothing on this Caribbean rum drink.) The most promising one I found (and probably the easiest) was this one from The Noshery.
I had the rum, I had the spices, I had the vanilla. All I needed was evaporated milk, condensed milk, and cream of coconut. To the grocery store I went, I went to the liquor store and picked up another bottle of rum just to be on the safe side, and half an hour later things were blending in my kitchen.
An empty 1.75 liter vodka bottle from 360 Vodka was pressed into service to hold my Christmas drink.
I sampled my batch. I poured a little into an Irish Cream glass and sniffed it. A definite rum scent. It certainly looked like egg nog. It had the same creamy complexion. I took a swallow. It was a little gritty, probably due to the cream of coconut. The coconut flavor came through strongly, and the warmth of the rum was there. It tasted nothing like egg nog, not even the alcoholic egg nog you can buy at the liquor store. It was so good.
And I still had rum! I could make more! Admittedly, some of it was Admiral Nelson’s Vanilla Rum, which would work, since the recipe called for vanilla. (I should note that, no matter what the label on a bottle of Admiral Nelson’s implies, Horatio Nelson was never a bearded, jaunty, eye-patch wearing fellow.)
So, back to the grocery store I went. More evaporated milk, more condensed milk, more cream of coconut.
Adding the ingredients to the blender was a blast, because they would separate out into layers. I had never worked with cream of coconut before, so I was amazed to discover the solid, fatty layer that condensed at the top of the can like a plug.
Suffice it to say, I made coquito until I ran out of rum, which produced two 1.75 liter vodka bottles and most of a 750 mL rum bottle (which I had drained in the process of all this blending).
In the week since, I’ve drunk the coquito from the rum bottle in small doses, usually out of an Irish Cream glass. There’s a nice texture to coquito, the rum isn’t overpowering, and the coconut is simply divine.
The two giant bottles? I’ll take them out of the refrigerator, give them a good shake, and put them back. The cinnamon and nutmug have settled to the bottom of the bottle. I have all December to drink these (and the bourbon barrel-aged Guinness I picked up two weeks ago). I’m in no hurry.
Even if I did drink all of the coquito, well… the store has more ingredients, and I have a blender.
If you’ve never heard of coquito, really, do try that Noshery recipe; you might actually give up egg nog forevermore.
My Puerto Rican friends, I’ve appropriated your culture, but when it’s for a drink this good, how could I not?
Happy December, everyone!