Coquito is a creamy, boozy, coconutty drink beloved in Puerto Rico where it was invented and is imbibed during the holidays, especially on Christmas and New Year’s. Coquito means ”little coconut” in Spanish and is sometimes referred to as Puerto Rican eggnog, but it doesn’t include eggs. It’s as much a classic part of the holidays as a meal of Pernil and Arroz con Gandules.
When I served this to a bunch of friends, everyone wanted to try it and at first took a small glass and then promptly walked back over to the pitcher and refilled their glasses to the top. This is, in fact, one of those drinks that feels more like dessert, though it’s just perfect to sip on a chilly holiday evening. Serve it up alongside Easy Pumpkin Pie, as I did.
This recipe comes by way of my friend and fellow professional cook Guillermo Cruz, but it really comes from his mother, Carmen Cruz, who was kind enough to share it with me so I could share it with all of you.
Table of Contents
Coquito: Creamy and coconutty and boozy, this Puerto Rican Egg Nog is a holiday staple and turns a gathering into a party.Tweet This
- Coconut milk – The coconut milk is heated with the spices so that it gets infused with all their delicious flavor before mixing into the drink.
- Cloves – I recently learned that cloves are actually dried flowers! It only makes me love them more.
- Star anise – This spice has a powerful flavor, so I only add 1 star anise.
- Cinnamon stick – Adds such a beautiful, rounded, warm spice.
- Coconut cream – The thicker, creamier version of coconut milk. Here, it adds thickness to the drink.
- Condensed milk – Makes this drink deliciously sweet and creamy.
- Evaporated milk – Adds more creaminess and smooths out the coconut flavor.
- Vanilla extract – I never need a reason to add vanilla to something sweet, but here, it really elevates all of the flavors in this drink.
- Ground cinnamon – More cinnamon! Adding ground cinnamon adds color and another layer of cinnamon flavor (is there a spice more reminiscent of the holidays?).
- Rum – I used Bacardi, but you can use any rum you like. Maybe think about a flavored rum — vanilla rum would be excellent!
- Amaretto – Adds a sweet, almondy flavor.
How to Make Coquito
- Infuse the coconut milk: Pour the coconut milk into a small pot and add the cloves, anise, and cinnamon stick. Heat over medium-high heat until bubbles form around the edges of the pot. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain out the spices.
- Finish & chill: In a large pitcher, combine the infused coconut milk, coconut cream, condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla extract, and ground cinnamon. Stir in the rum and amaretto. Combine well and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Serve: Serve chilled in glasses. Garnish with a cinnamon stick if desired.
Coquito is a Puerto Rican drink traditionally made around Christmas and New Year’s. The main ingredient in the drink is coconut, which is why the drink is called coquito, or “little coconut.” The coconut milk is blended with other milks: coconut cream (the thicker, fattier version of coconut milk), condensed milk, and evaporated milk. The alcohol is added in the form of rum and amaretto. Then, warming wintry spices, including cloves, anise, cinnamon, and vanilla, are added. The resulting drink is super creamy and comforting!
The most common type of alcohol used in coquito is rum, and Carmen Cruz calls for that plus amaretto, which is an almond liqueur. Amaretto is not always added to coquito, but it’s a nice little twist. If you don’t have amaretto, double the amount of rum. This is an ample but not stupid amount of alcohol. Each 8-ounce glass has about 1 ounce of liquor and an alcohol content around 5% ABV. The average coquito’s strength (using this recipe) is similar to a beer.
You can, of course, dial the amount of alcohol up or down. However, the booze plus the creaminess of the various milks is what gives this drink its complexity. So, can you skip it altogether for a virgin coquito? Sure, go for it.
Many people refer to coquito as “Puerto Rican eggnog” because the two drinks are both creamy and spiced. The main difference between the drinks is hinted at in their names: coquito is thickened and flavored by coconut, while eggnog contains eggs instead. The alcohol is also different: eggnog often contains brandy, while coquito usually contains rum. If you’re a fan of eggnog, I definitely recommend giving coquito a try!
What to Serve with Coquito
More Holiday Cocktail Recipes
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- 1 can coconut milk
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 whole star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 can coconut cream
- 1 can condensed milk
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup rum (such as Bacardi)
- ½ cup amaretto
- Cinnamon sticks (to garnish, if desired)
- Pour the coconut milk into a small pot and add the cloves, anise, and cinnamon stick. Heat over medium-high heat until bubbles form around the edges of the pot. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain out the cloves, anise, and cinnamon stick.
- In a large pitcher, combine the infused coconut milk, coconut cream, condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla extract, and ground cinnamon. Stir in the rum and amaretto. Combine well and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Serve chilled in glasses. Garnish with a cinnamon stick if desired.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.