The Puerto Rican Egg Nog
As the holidays approached I was greeted with an offer to buy some "Coquito" from a Puerto Rican family in my neighborhood. Seeing as it contains rum I said yes without any idea of what it actually was/is. However, it has led me down a bit of a rabbit hole and I couldn't be happier about it!
Coquito is one of those Puerto Rican things that ties together a long colonial history with the islanders' penchant for making great things from whatever they have at hand. Take the European taste for the Posset, as first a remedy and later a dessert drink, that was brought over by the Spanish, add the rum common in the Caribbean and a bit of coconut found on the island and you are close. Drop in canned milks imported after the Spanish-American war and you have an authentically Puerto Rican take on Egg Nog. Best of all, as opposed to most of the tropical cocktails I bring your way, it requires nothing fresh! Just a bunch of highly storable grocery store staples.
Coquito is such a big part of the holiday season in Puerto Rico that they have contests there in order to determine which family has the best recipe. It's interesting to me as an aficionado of tropical/Tiki cocktails because with the exception of two ingredients, everyone makes it using the same stock. It's not about varying the ingredients at all, it's simple a matter of proportions. This sort of agreement on all of the ingredients is not something I see very often! As for the two "controversial" ingredients, one is vanilla extract. It only seems to be in about half the recipes. However, the big divider is egg or no egg. I will say that I fall on the no egg side. But that's not because of taste exactly. With eggs the texture gets quite creamy which is good but I think it becomes too rich and filling. I don't want one small glass for dessert, I want a couple as a night cap! So, I go eggless. If you want to try it with eggs drop in two egg yolks.
Over the past few weeks I've made a LOT of Coquito. I tried every recipe I could find (and even tried to make a gluten and dairy free version for Mrs. Bamboo Sam) but found that much like individual families in Puerto Rico, I liked my own little variation best. So, start with mine and then feel free to experiment. Like it with less cinnamon bite? Don't simmer the cinnamon as long! Want more vanilla? Add it! Think it would be better with a bit of Tequila in it? Go home, your drunk.
Source - Bamboo Sam
12 ounces coconut water
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
1 can evaporated milk (12 oz)
1 can Coco Lopez Cream of Coconut (15 oz)
1 cup white Puerto Rican rum*
3 drops of vanilla extract
Pour the coconut water into a pan and simmer for 20 minutes with the cinnamon and nutmeg. Cool to room temp and strain out solids using a fine mesh strainer. Pour remaining liquid into a blender with all other ingredients. Blend on high 1-2 minutes until frothy. Bottle and refrigerate for at least four hours to let the flavors mingle. It will keep a couple of weeks if refrigerated. To serve, shake (without ice) and serve in a rocks glass with garnish of cinnamon stick and a dusting of nutmeg .
*Bamboo Sam's customizations: As always, Cruzan makes a good sub for white Puerto Rican rum but Bacardi would be my choice in this cocktail. You want something simple, nothing aged or packed with flavor. When you shake prior to serving, you can add a splash of spiced rum if you are looking to kick it up a notch.