Traditionally enjoyed in Puerto Rico during the holidays—especially from Christmas Eve to Three Kings Day (El Dia de Reyes) on January 6th—this creamy cocktail stands out as the island’s quintessential holiday tipple. Like most indigenous beverages, the Coquito—which translates to “little coconut”—has many fathers. Some claim it was inspired by the Spanish conquerers and their fruity ponche, though most believe it has roots in 19th-century American eggnog, brought to the island when the United States took control in 1898. Always a blend of island rum, cinnamon, and coconut in some form, the cocktail sometimes includes eggs, vanilla, and condensed or evaporated milk, as well.
Whether made at home or in a bar, as a single libation or in a batch, “the Coquito belongs to the Christmas tradition in Puerto Rico. It’s part of our heritage,” says Jaiker Soto, Don Q Master Blender at Destilería Serrallés. He suggests using Don Q Cristal rum, which spends 1 1/2 to 5 years in American Oak barrels. Like a liquid Navidad, the white rum’s undertone of baking spices, white chocolate middle, and gingery finish brings a festive harmony to the mix. Here’s the Serallés family recipe, at punch bowl scale, which can be scaled down for smaller quantities.
Serallés family Don Q Coquito
750 ml Don Q Cristal rum
56 oz. Sweetened condensed milk (4 cans)
48 oz. Evaporated milk (4 cans)
24 oz. Coco López cream of coconut (1.75 cans)
4 tsp. Vanilla extract
4 tsp. Ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. Ground nutmeg
Mix all ingredients in a blender at high speed. Pour into empty bottles (using a funnel). Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Shake well and serve cold in a small glass.
Sprinkle with ground cinnamon.