A Brief History of Coquito from Puerto Rico

Drinking from a coconut
Drinking from a coconut | © Ian Go/ Flickr
Mariela Santos

Coquito is a traditional Christmas drink in Puerto Rico that can be consumed any time of the year. Its name means ‘small coconut’ in Spanish, and the drink is widely thought of as a coconut equivalent to eggnog. Along with pitorro, coquito is one of the must-try drinks when traveling in Puerto Rico – here’s our all-you-need-to-know guide on that flavorful drink that you’re soon to be consuming.

Coquito in Puerto Rico, explained

The main ingredients of coquito, regardless of the recipe, are coconut milk, coconut cream, Puerto Rican rum, and sweetened condensed milk. Other flavors can be added to make strawberry coquito, Nutella coquito, or chocolate coquito, to name a few. Similar to pitorro, known as Puerto Rican moonshine, coquito can vary when it comes to its alcohol percentage, since it’s mostly made at home to a recipe passed along through a network of friends, family, colleagues, etc.

It’s currently unknown who exactly created coquito, or how the recipe came together to be what it is now, but what’s certain is that the best way to get to know about coquito, is to try it.


Coquito outside of Puerto Rico

There are drinks similar to coquito in other countries in the Caribbean and in Spain. In Cuba for example, the drink is served with coconut ice cream. In the United States, coquito is well-known by Puerto Ricans and those of Puerto Rican heritage, as well as by travelers who have visited Puerto Rico. One important coquito-related event in the US is the Coquito Masters, which is held every year and put together by the International Coquito Tasting Federation. Originally a contest held in the New York City area, the Coquito Masters is now expanding to other states.

Coconuts and white Bacardi rum

A must-try coquito recipe

While home-made coquito is definitely the preferred version of this popular drink, there are various companies that sell it, such as Brooklyn Coquito and several supermarkets. To make it yourself, follow these instructions from The Latin Kitchen:

1 can coconut milk, not coconut water or coconut cream (13.5 ounces)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
1 cup water
1 cup whole milk
2 sticks cinnamon
4 egg yolks
* ground cinnamon, to taste (optional)
1 cup white rum
In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the coconut milk, condensed milk, water, whole milk, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil very briefly, then remove from the heat.

In a separate mixing bowl whip the egg yolks with a whisk or electric hand mixer. While whipping, drizzle about a cup of the hot mixture into the eggs.

Return the milk/egg mixture to the saucepan and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before adding the rum. Store in the refrigerator, best when made a day in advance.

Serve in shot glasses. Sprinkle a bit of ground cinnamon in each cup before serving.”

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