Pito’s Traditional Coquito

Puerto Rican Coquito Coconut Drink Recipe
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
A Puerto Rican Christmas is all about families and friends gathering to dance, drink and eat. At the center of all Puerto Rican holiday festivities is coquito. This silky, sweet, coconut milk-based drink spiked with rum and spices is Puerto Rico at it’s best.
Coquito is often referred to as the “Puerto Rican eggnog” even though the traditional drink contains no eggs at all. Each family has their own version of coquito. Most versions use some proportion of coconut milk, cream of coconut (Coco Lopez), sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and rum.
If you do an online search for coquito you will find an abundance of recipes that all call for egg yolks. If you are looking for a traditional Puerto Rican recipe, then stay away from these egg yolk recipes.
The recipe I share with you today is my grandfather Pito’s recipe. It’s the best coquito recipe I’ve tried. It’s Pito’s twist on the traditional coquito recipe by adding salt and lime rind and omitting the sweetened condensed milk to cut back on the sweetness.
Coquito is best served as an after dinner drink. Keep it refrigerated in a glass bottle and serve it very cold in small sherry glasses with extra ground nutmeg. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.
For a non-alcoholic coquito, Pito suggests substituting the rum for some tropical fruit juice such as pineapple or guava. Simply holding back on the rum also makes a great non-alcoholic coquito. As a child I remember sticking around the kitchen so I could taste the coquito before they added rum and it is simply delicious.
For another Puerto Rican holiday recipe, check out Pito’s pernil roasted pork recipe.
Feliz Navidad to all!
Pito’s Coquito
1 can cream of coconut
6 ounces coconut milk
2 12 ounce cans evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon lime (limón) rind
1 pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
2 cinnamon sticks, broken into smaller pieces
2 cups Bacardi rum
1. Mix all ingredients (excluding the rum) in a large bowl. Add rum to taste.
2. Transfer the mixture to a glass bottle and refrigerate for 24 hours to allow the flavors to develop. Serve chilled in small sherry glasses and garnish with fresh ground nutmeg.

The Basics of Mixed Drinks

Raspberry Mint Gin Cocktail
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
Talented ceramicist, friend and home mixologist Sunetra Banerjee shared this New York Times Mark Bittman article with me earlier this week. It’s a good introduction to making your own drinks and understanding the basic elements of many mixed drinks:
Sour Element + Sweet Element + Alcohol + Ice/Water
Sunetra has introduced me to many delicious drink recipes and I have great respect for her sensibility. One of my favorite Sunetra drinks is one with gin, muddled raspberries, simple syrup and soda – makes me thirsty just thinking about it.
If you are wanting to experiment with mixed drinks at home, you’re going to need simple syrup. It’s super easy to make and can store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1. In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Stir and simmer until the sugar is dissolved about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Transfer to a glass jar and refrigerate until ready for use.
Makes 1 1/2 cups.