Christmas isn’t Christmas in Miami until your fridge has at least two bottles of Coquito chilling.
For those unfamiliar with the traditional holiday drink, Coquito is a creamy, coconut-based beverage that is a staple in Puerto Rico and by extension Miami. The recipe involves evaporated milk, cream of coconut, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and ground cinnamon.
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Oh, wait. AND RUM. The rum is the key ingredient, obviously.
Some people describe Coquito as Puerto Rican eggnog. Don’t do that. The differences might seem small, but they are important. Coquito, for example, usually doesn’t have sugar added (you get the sugar in the condensed milk and the cream of coconut). Eggnog has raw eggs (hence the name). Coquito may or may not have a little bit of egg in it, but it’s not the star of the show.
The American eggnog tradition reportedly goes back as far as the Founding Fathers. George Washington apparently had a bomb ass recipe that people still make today. But had GW tried some Coquito, he probably would have sold Mount Vernon and bought a coconut farm in Hatillo.
There are several reasons why Coquito is better than eggnog. Let me break it down.
Nobody makes eggnog
Everybody in Miami has at least one coworker who has a recipe for Coquito that has been passed down for five generations. I have tasted a few that were just OK, but since they are homemade and passed out as gifts, most bottles of Coquito are made with love and care (and did I mention the rum?). They usually come in a repurposed wine bottle with a ribbon around the neck. Your friend will never share the recipe with you, so you just have to wait for it. And if they do share the recipe, it will be missing a few key ingredients.
Eggnog, on the other hand, is usually storebought in a milk carton and not great. Lame.
Where’s the alcohol?
The store-bought varieties of eggnog usually don’t have any booze. Boring. It’s Christmas. We’re trying to get festive up in here! There are probably super religious people who make a “virgin” Coquito. I have yet to sample that.
Why is eggnog so thick?
Coquito, when it’s done right, is creamy, but there is never any doubt that it is a liquid. Some of the best ones I have tried are similar to Bailey’s. Eggnog, on the other hand, has the consistency of phlegm or gravy or in the best case scenario, partially melted ice cream. If I want a cinnamon smoothie, I’ll go to Smoothie King.
That said, if you like the consistency of eggnog, but want a superior product, there is always the Haitian version, known as Kremas. It’s thicker and made with 100 percent Haitian moonshine that offers just about the right holiday kick.
Ignorance is bliss
Since Coquito is homemade, there is no nutritional synopsis available. This is how we like our cream-based sugary alcoholic beverages. Take a look at the nutritional info on Hartzler’s Eggnog (which sounds pretty good, BTW). One eight-ounce serving has 450 calories. When you drink Coquito, you don’t have to worry about if your arteries are going to get clogged before you sit down to dinner on Nochebuena.