The holiday season is festive and full of joy. We decorate our homes, listen to festive tunes and spend time with loved ones—often with a warming drink in our hands. Many of us celebrate with a glass of eggnog, but in Puerto Rico, they have a different holiday tradition: coquito. Like other rum drinks, coquito is rich and sweet, but the cream of coconut gives it a smooth, creamy consistency. It’s a cozy drink that will warm you from the inside out. Coquito is a big-batch cocktail, which makes it a great punch recipe for your next holiday party!
What Is Coquito?
Coquito is a holiday cocktail from Puerto Rico. In Spanish, coquito means “little coconut,” referring to the drink’s coconut flavoring. Everyone makes their coquito recipe differently, and family recipes are passed down through the generations. All contain coconut, but some use cream of coconut (like ours), while others opt for coconut milk or coconut cream. Coquito also contains rum and warming spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.
People often compare coquito to eggnog because it’s popular during the holidays. These drinks are rich and creamy, and both contain rum (although some people use other alcohols for eggnog, like whiskey or brandy). However, coquito is coconut-flavored and typically doesn’t contain eggs or heavy whipping cream.
How to Make Coquito
Coquito is shockingly easy to make. Simply dump all the ingredients (except the rum) in a blender, and puree until smooth. Then, transfer the mixture to the refrigerator. It can chill for as little as four hours or as long as a week. When the party gets going, pour the coquito into individual glasses (garnished with shredded coconut and a cinnamon stick, if desired). Give the jar a shake before serving to reincorporate the ingredients—especially if it’s been sitting in the fridge for a while.
- Rum: Rum is a distilled spirit derived from the sugarcane plant. More specifically, it’s the fermented molasses left behind after sugarcane is processed into refined sugar. Most people agree that white rum—specifically Puerto Rican white rum—makes the best coquito, but it’s not the only option (more on that in a minute).
- Cream of coconut: There’s a difference between coconut cream vs. coconut milk—and you don’t want either for this coquito recipe! Look for the can labeled “cream of coconut.” Like the other products, it’s made with fresh coconuts. But the thick, smooth liquid is blended with sugar to make it sweet. Check your local liquor store if you can’t find it at the grocery store.
- Evaporated milk: This canned milk has been cooked down to remove most of the milk’s water content. It’s thicker and creamier than regular milk, adding body to the coquito. It also contributes a concentrated, nutty flavor.
- Sweetened condensed milk: What’s the difference between evaporated and condensed milk? The latter contains added sugar that makes this cocktail so delightfully rich. If you don’t have any on hand, make sweetened condensed milk in the microwave.
- Cinnamon and cloves: These warming spices accentuate sweetness and make the cocktail taste cozy.
Step 1: Blend
Add the cream of coconut, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, water, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon and cloves in a blender. Cover, and process until blended.
Step 2: Refrigerate
Refrigerate until chilled.
Editor’s Tip: Chill the coquito for at least four hours to meld the flavors and make the cocktail thicker. You can chill it in the blender for short-term storage. If chilling it for over a day, transfer it to a sterilized glass bottle with a tight-fitting lid or an airtight container.
Step 3: Serve
Stir in the rum before serving.
Editor’s Tip: Coquito is traditionally served in a chilled shot glass. Small glasses are nice because the drink is very rich! You can also serve it from a pretty punch bowl.
- Have fun with the flavors: Add cocoa powder, pumpkin puree or nut butter to the blender to flavor your coquito.
- Include a spice tea: Amp up the spice vibes by making a spice tea with the water called for in the recipe. Heat the water with cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and other spices (such as star anise, allspice and vanilla bean). Bring the water to a boil for two minutes. Let the tea steep for about 10 minutes. Strain the tea, and let it cool before adding it to the blender.
- Make it non-alcoholic: Most coquito recipes are made with rum, but you can always leave it out! It’s a sweet, warming drink on its own.
- Use plant-based ingredients: Make a vegan coquito with nondairy milk alternatives, such as sweetened condensed coconut milk and evaporated coconut milk. This dairy-free recipe will be more coconut-forward, and the consistency may be slightly thinner, but it will still taste great!
How long does coquito last?
Homemade coquito will last for up to a week stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you stir in the rum, it will last at least another week. The contents may separate, so shake before serving.
Can you make coquito ahead of time?
Yes, coquito is a great make-ahead cocktail for holiday parties or special events. It also makes a cute Mason jar gift idea!
Can you freeze coquito?
We don’t recommend freezing this coquito recipe. It can become gritty or granulated when frozen and thawed, and the drink isn’t the same without its signature smooth texture.
What kind of rum should you use to make coquito?
The best rum for coquito is a Puerto Rican white rum, such as Bacardi. However, any white rum will work, and you can vary the rum to change the flavor profile. Use coconut rum to make it extra-coconuty, or opt for spiced rum or aged rum.
How do you serve coquito?
Coquito is traditionally served in a chilled shot glass during the holidays. For a fancy presentation, rim the glass with shredded coconut and dust the top with ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Make it part of a holiday feast with pernil and arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas).
What are the chunks in coquito?
Coquito should be smooth, but it can become chunky if you use coconut milk instead of cream of coconut. The fat in coconut milk can separate and solidify towards the top of the container. Returning it to the blender just before serving should resolve the issue.
Why isn’t my coquito thick?
Coquito should thicken as it chills in the refrigerator. If it’s still too thin, add a little coconut cream, and return it to the fridge to chill. Alternatively, if the coquito is too thick, you can thin it out with additional water.