Your Next Holiday Drink Sensation: The Coquito

A quick post to share a recipe which several people asked me for after seeing my social media post.

The Coquito is a sinfully rich drink associated with Puerto
Rico and Christmas. Some call it the Puerto Rican answer to Eggnog. I shall not
attempt to describe its history and cultural significance here, as there are
many sources readily
available.

After many years enjoying Coquitos at Seattle’s Rumba, I was
looking forward to another season of them. But having moved to New Orleans,
that wasn’t happening without a plane ticket. Luckily, I discovered Coquitos
are incredibly easy to make!  You’ll
spend more time finding the canned goods aisle in the grocery store aisles than
you will making the recipe.

There are many coquito recipes online to consider. Here’s
what I settled on after several trial batches:

  • 1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
  • 1 can cream of coconut, ala Coco Lopez (14 oz)
  • 1 can sweetened, condensed milk (14 oz)
  • 2 cups lightly aged rum (Puerto Rican, ideally)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg

Makes about 1.5 quarts. Adjust spice quantities to suit your
tastes.

Instructions:

  • Add all ingredients to a large blender.
  • Blend on high for 2 minutes.
  • Sample. If not rummy enough, add more rum and
    blend again. Repeat until rummy.
  • Transfer to containers, e.g. Mason jars. Chill
    in refrigerator overnight.

But wait! There’s more!

After making and consuming several batches, I noticed that
the cinnamon and other ground spices always sink to the bottom and add a
slightly gritty texture. Also, it seemed the spice flavor wasn’t fully
extracted, due to the viscosity of the liquid.

Luckily, there’s an easy solution — Spiced rum!

Before your reach for your Captain Morgan or Kraken,
remember that most spiced rums have a mix of other spice flavors which you
might not want. Not all spiced rums are the same!

Most spiced rums are also heavily sweetened. Believe me, the base coquito
recipe is already quite sweet. Now, if The Captain is your jam, by all means, give
it a whirl.

However, I wanted something a little more refined, and a little drier. Something like the Chairman’s Reserve Spiced rum, which is a fairly dry rum. Or, keeping things more Puerto Rican, the Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum.

If you have these on hand, fantastic! If not, there’s an easy improvisation.

About an hour before you blend the ingredients together, take your two cups of rum (or however much you’re using) and put it in an airtight container, like a Mason jar. Add the ground cinnamon and any other ground spices you desire. Shake occasionally to keep the rum and spice intermingling.

Essentially, you’re making a flash spiced rum. The alcohol
in the rum work quickly to extract flavors from the spices. Much faster than
the thick, cold coquito liquid does. Obviously, if you let the spices infuse
longer, you’ll get stronger flavors in the end result. Find what works for you.

Should you not wish the ground spices to remain in the final coquito mix, simply strain the spiced rum through a very fine chinois strainer or similar.


Now that you’ve seen how easy it is to make coquitos (Open
cans, pour into blender, blend), don’t be constrained by the basic recipe above.
Experiment with other additions like cloves, raisons, and other spices, and
report back in the comments!

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