As with much of history in cultures that pass down traditions orally, it’s hard to track down the origins of coquito, Puerto Rico’s rum punch that’s served during the holidays.
The most common story goes that the first coquito was created with pitorro, a moonshine rum made from sugarcane and buried underground to ferment. You would combine that with fresh coconut water and, later, grated coconut. You might also customize your pitorro with tropical fruits. (My grandmother used tamarind.)
Today, the silky libation is embedded in the holiday repertoire of Puerto Rican families. Warming spices like cinnamon, ginger and cloves are common. Some use eggs when making coquito, while others would never do so.
If you want to go super old-school with your coquito, you might stick a piece of cheese, typically Edam, or what locals call queso de bola, in the finished bottle. The rum infuses into the cheese, which you can remove and serve, maybe on crackers, when it’s time to drink your coquito.
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 1 (15-ounce) can cream of coconut
- 1 (14-ounce) can condensed milk
- 2 cups rum
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground clove
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- Scant amount of salt
In blender, combine all ingredients. Blend on high until well combined. Pour over ice and serve. To store, pour into a two-quart bottle or mason jar. Refrigerated in an airtight container, coquito will last for up to 4 months. Shake well before serving. Serves 6–8.