Coquito

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Coquito, or "little coconut," is a traditional creamy rum punch served in Puerto Rico for Christmas and throughout the winter holidays. While some cookbook recipes refer to the drink as coconut eggnog, each family puts their own twist on the drink: Some include eggs or egg yolks, others do not. Shamil Velázquez, the executive chef of Delaney Oyster House in Charleston, stands firmly in the no-egg camp. Velázquez's coquito recipe takes its richness and viscosity instead from coconut cream and three types of milk, while warming spices and white rum add aroma and flavor. In Puerto Rico, some families use pistachios, almonds, and even Nutella to flavor their proprietary blends. "People get crazy with this stuff around the island," Velázquez says. "My family's signature is the ginger, which gives a little spiciness. That's what makes ours different."

Pouring homemade coquito over ice
Photo: Photo by Jacob Fox / Food Styling by Lauren McAnelly / Prop Styling by Jessica Thomas and Susan Mitchell

Ingredients

  • 2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk

  • 1 (15-ounce) can cream of coconut

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk, well-shaken and stirred

  • 3 cups water

  • 4 ounces cinnamon sticks (about 24 [3-inch-long] sticks)

  • 1 ounce whole cloves (about 1/3 cup)

  • 2 whole star anise

  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger

  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract

  • 1 (750-ml.) bottle Puerto Rican white rum (such as Don Q or Ron del Barrilito)

Directions

  1. Whisk together evaporated milk, cream of coconut, condensed milk, and coconut milk in a large heatproof bowl; set aside.

  2. Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Stir in cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, star anise, and ginger. Remove from heat; let steep at room temperature, uncovered, until mixture is aromatic, about 15 minutes.

  3. Pour spice mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into milk mixture. Whisk to combine; discard solids. Whisk vanilla into milk mixture. Let stand at room temperature until completely cooled, about 15 minutes.

  4. Whisk rum into milk mixture. Pour coquito evenly among 3 (1-quart) lidded glass bottles. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, about 2 hours. Pour coquito straight into small glasses, or, if desired, serve over ice.

Make Ahead

Coquito can be refrigerated up to 1 month.

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