Coquito has become a holiday darling of the cocktail world, with bartenders around the world creating their version of the beloved rum centered Puerto Rican Navideño delicacy. After several successful years in New York City, BACARDÍ brought their Annual Coquito Competition to Miami for the very first time for the 2022 season. Miami was the perfect city as the Caribeño epicenter of the U.S. with bartenders from ten different bars around Miami competition for the title of Coquito Champion. Hosted by the hilarious Carlos Hernández of Only in Dade with special Guest Judges – Chef Michael Beltran, BACARDí Ambassador – Moe Isaza and it was my (Tara Fougner) honor to represent Puerto Rican heritage as a judge representing, thirsty Tara Fougner.
For the People’s Choice, the Bayside Caribeño bar, La Cañita took home the honors with a sweeping victory. The night’s biggest honor of Judge’s Choice was a bit more intense of a debate. After a spectacular display of flavor, study, technique culture, and celebratory fun, the Judges came to a consensus that Miami native, Steven Minor (Corporate Beverage Director, SH Hotels) representing the 1Hotel in South Beach, was the first Judge’s Choice Miami BACARDÍ Coquito Competition Champion.
Steven shares, “I definitely wanted to accomplish three main goals when preparing and presenting this to the judges + local community. First, I wanted to incorporate sustainability whenever possible to stay true to 1 hotel’s Ethos: We did this in multiple applications from making the recipe 100% vegan to using our own fresh coconut shells as serving vessels, incorporating the water from the coconut shells into the batch recipe and hand scraping the flesh out of the coconuts and using them twice in the recipe: first for the infusion, then in the brigadeiros. Zero waste… Second, I wanted to pay homage to the MIA, my dearly beloved hometown, by using flavors that reminded me of my childhood years drinking batidos de Mamey y Platano & snacking on “mariquitas” at 305 mainstays like “El Rey De Las Fritas” & “Palacio De Los Jugos”. We used a delicious new Mamey & coconut mix that just hit the market called Angels Share “El Zapote” which is locally made by 2 Miami-based bartenders and entrepreneurs, both named Angel.
Finally, I wanted to highlight the most important ingredient in Coquito, the coconut. We used it in over 10 different applications throughout the recipe + presentation, which was meant to overwhelm and hit all the sensory adaptors. There were the visual aspects that included the beautiful 1 SB branded coconut vessel, the velvety coconut + mamey foam, & the crispy coconut charcoal-based “coral”. We touched on olfactory notes by creating a coconut & lime verbena mist that was activated by dry ice & seeped out from below the Chinese bamboo tea tray the drink was presented on. Finally, we really zeroed in on taste, the most important factor. The goal was to create a coquito that wasn’t too rich & cloying, was balanced & one where the coconut was the star of the show and the rum, banana, mamey & tonka beans were the supporting actors.”
It is truly an honor to be able to take home the inaugural Bacardi Miami Coquito competition. Being born & raised in the 305, this one really hit close to home for me personally and pushed me to think outside of the box, apply some of my favorite techniques + ingredients, and most importantly have FUN!”
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