The cold weather rolls in and with it comes warming, hearty drinks such as: Toddys, eggnogs, whiskey sours, etc. All of these have versions that I genuinely enjoy, but there aren’t many I love more than Coquito - which can be easily described as Puerto Rican eggnog (except without eggs).
Like many family recipes, this drink recipe gets passed down from generation to generation and become an drinkable family heirloom that stays relatively traditional over-time, and is usually made, and shared, with others. Last year, I had the pleasure of taking photos of some Coquito for Thirsty Mag at the since shuddered Suffolk Arms in NYC, where I’d meet legendary bartender, Giuseppe Gonzáles.
He is known for his world-class Coquito and has been making it for his family for as long as he can remember, and also would make some to share with his local industry friends and family. He made two versions: the traditional, and a cognac-based version. The traditional was for everybody, but especially for the elders of the family who didn’t want any of that other crap because they were, well…traditional and just wanted the old-school version (makes sense, right?). The cognac-based version was his contemporary take on the classic and was just as mind-blowing as the traditional.
While my family has always had Coquito in the fridge during the holidays while I was growing up, we had never tried to make some ourselves as our Puerto Rican friends and family would share their coveted recipes in their bottles of Bacardi Superior, or Don Q, as they were usually delivered in. I couldn’t imagine making anything as authentic at the time. But, with not having the pleasure of tasting Giuseppe’s Coquito this year, and having been greatly inspired by his versions, I needed to have my fix of this delicious mix so I decided to step up to the task and make some myself.
This was my first time making it and, I have to say, it was pretty tasty. While some of the legit Coquito-makers will use organic vanilla beans instead of vanilla extract, it just wasn’t in the budget for me this year, but just know that it’s a thing (haha). My version breaks the traditional use of Puerto Rican rum, and uses a split base of Flor de Caña 7yr, Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, and Plantation O.F.T.D Overproof Rum to add a bit of quality, depth, and flavor to this delectable classic. That said, you can keep it simple and just use one bottle of rum, or split the base in half should you have the means. This is just the template I used. I hope you enjoy!
2 Cups Flor de Caña 7r ml rum
1/2 Cup Plantation O.F.T.D Overproof Rum
1/2 Cup Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva
4 (12 oz) cans Evaporated Milk
4 (14 oz) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
1 (15 oz) can cream of coconut
1/2 (17.6 oz) can coconut water
4 tsp Vanilla Extract
4 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
3 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
Directions: add the spices, coconut milk, and coconut water and 1/2 cup of rum to a saucepan and bring to a simmer (I used these as the main mix to flavor the rest of the batch, and the small bit of rum will extract the flavors quickly - especially bark-like spices like the cinnamon sticks which need alcohol / high temps to extract flavors). After the first ingredients simmer for about 10mins, add the rest of the ingredients and stir frequently until the whole batch is brought to a simmer; let the mix cool, then bottle.
Note: the Coquito can be stored in cold conditions (refrigerated at a medium temp) and are best served chilled, but not too cold. The milk will solidify and will need to warm up before serving if the mix gets too cold, so just be aware! Always give a good shake before serving, and garnish with fresh nutmeg.