Spend Christmas with any Puerto Rican family and there are a few things that are certain: you will eat way too much delicious food, listen to José Feliciano’s timeless classic, “Feliz Navidad,” and drink Coquito.
To those who may not be familiar, you can overgeneralize and say that Coquito is kind of Puerto Rican eggnog with island swagger. Although many proud Puerto Ricans have their own secret recipe twists on this classic, it typically consists of coconut cream, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and is spiked with generous portions of rum.
Naturally, we partnered up with authentic Puerto Rican Don Q rum, a traditional island favorite spirit for this drink, for a closer look.
With Puerto Rico very much on our minds right now due to the devastation caused by recent hurricanes, it is important to look at the colonial status of the island to explore the history of this drink. Although the history and true origin of Coquito has been greatly unrecorded, there are two major theories that both involve colonial influence.
The first postures that it evolved from Ponche and Spanish influence while the other more popular theory suggests that it was derived from the American eggnog recipe after they took control of the island in 1898.
“Coquito belongs to the Christmas tradition in Puerto Rico, and it has been present in our heritage since the end of the 1800’s,” explains Jaiker Soto, Don Q Master Blender at Destilería Serrallés.
No matter when Coquito was created, one thing is certain: no Puerto Rican holiday celebration is complete without it.
“Growing up in Puerto Rico, you have your first “sip” of Coquito at a family Christmas party,” says Don Q Director of Marketing, Yisell Muxo. “As like every self-respecting Puerto Rican, I have developed my own and every year we have a Coquito competition amongst my friends. I won first and second place the first year!”
“I think that the Coquito embodies a lot of what the holiday season means to Puerto Ricans,” Muxo continues. “Each family has a different recipe (and some have several) and everyone makes it their own. Everyone is oh-so-proud of their Coquito recipe and mostly everyone has a secret ingredient.”
Adds Soto, who enjoys the Coquito very cold, on the rocks in a small glass using Don Q Gold: “I think the history behind Coquito is so special, because it’s like a connection between two different cultures, and the blending with rum and coconut milk in order to create a distinctive drink.”
Plus, it makes for some serious bonding with loved ones.
“You spend time making it at home to share it with friends and family,” Muxo – who prefers her Coquito neat, very cold, served in a nice cordial glass, with some cinnamon sprinkled over it, using a combination of Don Q Cristal and Don Q Añejo – explains. “Besides being sweet, made with coconut and rum, it’s smell and taste transport you to Christmases past and bring back cherished memories”
Each Coquito experience is as unique and flavorful as the Puerto Rican people, you can be sure that at any given moment around the holidays that there is someone making, bottling or sharing their secret recipe.
If you’ve never tried one, make sure you add it to your holiday to-do list.
“I live in Puerto Rico, where most restaurants and stores will have some coquito for everyone to try during the holidays,” says Muxo. But I know that in NYC at Suffolk Arms, Giuseppe Gonzáles makes an amazing Coquito!” Other notable bars around the mainland that are serving Don Q Coquito include, Hank’s on the Wharf in Washington D.C. and Chica Las Vegas in the Venetian Hotel.
Better yet, make a batch at home using your favorite Don Q Rum.
Don Q Coquito Recipe
- 750 ml Don Q Cristal or Ańejo Rum
- 56 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 48 oz Evaporated Milk
- 24 oz Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut
- 4 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 Ground Nutmeg
*NOTE: This recipe makes a large batch for a group gathering or for bottling and storing.
Instructions: Mix all ingredients in a blender at high speed. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving. Shake well and serve cold in small glasses.
Feature Image shot by Tyler Zilenski for thirsty Media at Suffolk Arms.
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