Every December I throw our annual Christmas cookie swap. It’s a simple event that we’ve honed to turnkey tradition over the years. I throw on some hipster Christmas music, set out plenty of holiday-appropriate nibbles like a cheese plate or crab dip, and put a little Santa cap on our corgi because ohmygod it’s adorable.
Drink-wise I keep it simple: mulled wine and this coquito.
Video: How to Make Coquito (Puerto Rico Eggnog)
What Is Coquito?
Coquito is an easy cocktail to make, but unlike mulled wine, no one knows they love it yet. As the host, I feel it’s my merrymaking duty to introduce people to it.
Coquito is a traditional punch from Puerto Rico. It's often called "Puerto Rican eggnog" due to its very similar flavor profile and occasional use of eggs in some variations.
How to Make Coquito
This recipe is simple: coconut milk, rum, vanilla, and cinnamon. Boom. Done.
I like to sweeten mine with sweetened condensed milk and cream of coconut. Look for cream of coconut in the liquor section if you can't find it with the other canned ingredients. Good brands are Coco Lopez or Goya.
Can You Make This Vegan?
I would recommend using almond milk or soy milk in place of the evaporated milk. As for the sweetened condensed milk, I would add 1 cup of sugar and another milk alternative to make up the volume and sweetness. Start slow with adding the sugar, and taste as you go until you reached the desired sweetness.
Suggestions and Substitutions
Anything after those basic ingredients is up to you. Like so many dishes, coquito doesn’t have an exact recipe. The type and amount of rum, the choice of spices, the type of sweetener, or even whether to use eggs or not can vary from recipe to recipe and person to person.
This means that coquito is a recipe that you shape to your taste.
- Choose a rum you like! White, aged or spiced rum all are good. Mount Gay is smooth and affordable; Gosling's black rum is a little richer.
- Don’t want nutmeg? Don’t use it. Ginger, cloves, and star anise are good adds.
- Want to serve it on the rocks? Rock on.
- Have guests who don't drink alcohol? Skip the rum and make it virgin!
Have fun, experiment, and make the recipe yours. It will quickly become part of your holiday tradition, too.
Make Ahead and Storing Tips for Coquito
You can chill this in the fridge up for as little as two hours and up to three days ahead of time. All you have to do is pull this out when it's time to serve, and garnish with some cinnamon or grated nutmeg.
You can also keep coquito indefinitely in the refrigerator since the amount of alcohol keeps it preserved. But it begins to separate and look dodgy after more than three days, which may make you nervous. It’ll still be fine, and all you have to do is shake it up to make it smooth again.
Looking for More Holiday Cocktails?
- Orange and Vanilla Hot Buttered Rum
- Classic Eggnog
- Holiday Punch
- Brown Sugar Irish Coffee
- Chamomile Honey Hot Toddy
Coquito (Puerto Rican Coconut Eggnog)
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (15 ounce) can cream of coconut (like Coco Lopez or Goya)
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (13.5 ounce) can of coconut milk
2 teaspoons vanilla, or 1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
2 whole cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 to 2 cups rum
Grated nutmeg or ground cinnamon for garnish, optional
Steep the spices:
Place the sweetened condensed milk, cream of coconut, evaporated milk, coconut milk, vanilla, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg (all the ingredients except the rum) in a large saucepan. Warm over medium-high heat until just starting to simmer.
Remove from heat, cover, and let infuse for 30 minutes.
Mix in the rum:
Remove the cinnamon sticks and the vanilla bean (if using) and pour the mixture into a punch bowl or pitcher. (Note: I rinse and dry the vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks, and save them future infusions such as rice pudding.)
Add 1 cup of rum and taste; add more rum for a stronger punch. I usually stick to around 2 cups as I prefer it strong.
Chill this in the fridge for at least 2 hours or for up to 3 days.
Serve neat or over ice in small portions. Garnish with grated nutmeg or ground cinnamon as desired.