Puerto Rico's tropical take on eggnog.

In Puerto Rico the Christmas tradition comes in the form of an eggnog-like rum punch knotted up with the country’s complex colonial past and present. Spanish invaders brought to the Caribbean a European penchant for possets—the brandy-, madeira- or sherry-fortified forebear of our nog—but it wasn’t long before the Spaniards’ recipe got cozy with local rum and began to pop up wherever they had settlements. Soon enough Mexico had rompope, Venezuela had ponche crema and Puerto Rico had what they call coquito.

Most of those variations hew close to the original formula, but the Puerto Rican innovation was to add coconut, another colonial import that was incorporated into the local cuisine by African slaves who were working the sugar industry. And its most indelible modern ingredients are pure American convenience: canned condensed milk and evaporated milk, shelf-stable modern conveniences sent over after the Spanish-American war put the country under U.S. control.



  • 1 cup white rum, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cream of coconut
  • 1 (15-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (15-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Garnish: ground cinnamon and/or cinnamon stick

  1. Simmer coconut water, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg for 20 minutes, fine-strain to remove solids, and let cool.
  2. Combine cooled coconut water with remaining ingredients in a blender and process at top speed for 1-2 minutes, until completely mixed and lightly frothy.
  3. Bottle and refrigerate at least 4 hours to let flavors integrate.
  4. To serve, add coquito mix and additional rum to taste and shake vigorously without ice, up to 3 servings at a time.
  5. Strain into a mug or rocks glass and garnish with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon or a cinnamon stick in each glass.
Editor's Note

The coquito base will last several weeks in the fridge, if you can stay away from it for that long.