Coquito in a shot glass.
 Coquito for those who want more.
 Not just any spiced rum: Don Q is barrel-aged for three years (all photos courtesy Don Q Rum).
December 21st marks the first year of National Coquito Day. The day was established by Don Q Rum.
It’s also the first day of winter: You owe yourself a wintery drink.
Coquito, “little coconut” in Spanish, is Puerto Rico’s version of eggnog, a Christmas and New Year’s Eve drink. But it can be served any time of the year.
Lighter than eggnog, with coconut flavor, Coquito is made with coconut cream, coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk and rum, and seasoned with cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg.
Other Caribbean countries make variations:
In Cuba, Coquito is served with a scoop of coconut ice cream.
Elsewhere, a much lighter version is made with coconut juice.
Some recipes use eggs and/or lemon zest.
Some use all rum, all spiced rum or some of each. If you have coconut rum, you can substitute it.
Modern approaches include Chocolate Coquito, Nutella Coquito and Strawberry Coquito, among others.
The alcohol percentage, depending on the family’s recipe.
Coquito is often served in shot glasses as an after dinner drink; or fill the pitcher or punch bowl for a party.
Think of it as Tres Leches Cake in a glass; and if you’ve got a sweet tooth, serve it with Tres Leches Cake.
This recipe, from Supercall, makes a pitcherfull for a party.
RECIPE: COQUITO FOR CHRISTMAS
2 12-ounce cans evaporated milk
1 15-ounce can coconut milk
1 15-ounce can Coco Lopez cream of coconut
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup spiced rum
1/2 cup dark rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Garnishes: fresh-ground cinnamon and nutmeg
1. COMBINE all ingredients except the garnish spices in a blender. Blend on high until the mixture is well combined, about one or two minutes.
2. POUR the Coquito into a pitcher and refrigerate to chill. Before serving…
3. STIR well to combine. Pour into punch cups or small wine glasses and garnish with fresh ground cinnamon and/or nutmeg.
THE HISTORY OF COQUITO
No one knows the origin of Coquito, but one intrepid writer, Suset Laboy, decided to do some sleuthing.
The following is extracted from a much longer article at Centroweb Hunter College.
The two common suggestions are that Coquito was a derivation of Ponche Navideño, a Spanish Christmas punch, or American eggnog.
The actuality may be more native-to-Puerto-Rico than that. Laboy set out to trace its history, starting with Coquito’s main ingredients: sugar, coconut milk and rum, all plentiful in Puerto Rico.
Until the mid-20th century, Puerto Rico had issues with contaminated water and spoiled milk (as did the rest of the Caribbean). Coconut milk or water was drunk instead. Ingredient #1: Check.
Sugar has been grown in Puerto Rico since the 16th century. Ingredient #2: Check.
The sludge from processing sugar—molasses—was unwanted and fed to slaves. In the 16th century, slaves made sugarcane beer, and in the 17th century, figured out how to distilled alcohol from it: rum. Ingredient #3: Check.
While other islands made rum as well, Puerto Rico’s rum industry did not fully emerge until the 19th century, when sugarcane production began on a large scale. So our baseline is the 19th century.
A spirit mixed with sugar creates a basic cocktail. With the island’s supply of coconut milk and evaporated milk, it’s not a leap to see someone enhancing the cocktail with it, and making a luscious creamy cocktail in the process.
Until someone finds a smoking gun (a dated family recipe), that’s what we know!