celebrate with COQUITO!

In Puerto Rican households of old, the traditional drink for the Christmas holidays was coquito. In Puerto Rico, I'm told, it was also the beverage that flowed during Las Fiestas Patronales, or the the Feast of the Patron Saints. Seems every town or village had a patron saint, and what better way to pay homage than by making coquito. My folks called coquito Puerto Rican moonshine. It's not too far off the mark. Some liken it to potent eggnog; and it can be made very potent or mild depending on how much rum you put in it.

In our family we still make coquito in the traditional manner. In my cookbook, Puerto Rican Cuisine in America (Perseus Books Group), the family recipe is given, and it calls for ripe coconuts which are cracked open, and using both the coconut milk and the coconut skin to make the coquito. It is a great recipe, and it makes the finest coquito on earth. But, it's time consuming. I've modified the recipe using cream of coconut or coconut milk (readily available in most supermarkets) and there is no need to go buy coconuts and grate and pour and strain. If you want the traditional way of doing it, buy the book. Otherwise, just follow the steps given below. It produces a pretty good version.

An additional note: whichever way one makes coquito, my mother insists that only 151 proof dark rum should be used. Anything else is sacrilege.


3 cups cream of coconut or coconut milk (called coconut juice in some circles)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 5-ounce can evaporated milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 egg yolks, ligthtly beaten
3 cups 151 proof dark rum

1. In a large bowl, combine coconut cream or coconut milk, condensed milk, evaporated milk, cinnamon, egg yolks and rum. Pour in a blender or food processor and blend 10-20 seconds. If using a blender, this may be done in portions.
2. Pour into 1 liter or 1 quart containers (soda or wine bottles are fine), cap tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
3. Serve in glasses with a sprinkling of nutmeg or cinnamon.
Yield: 14 servings or more, depending if you serve in a shot glass, pony glass, or wine glass.
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