If you're an eggnog lover, you're sure to love a Puerto Rican twist on the holiday drink called coquito. Coquito, Spanish for "small coconut," is a rich holiday drink made with rum, sweetened condensed milk and coconut cream. The drink is made by the gallons during the holiday season in Puerto Rico, and each family has its own version of the recipe.
"There are over 3 million people in Puerto Rico, and probably that many different variations of the coquito recipe," says Roberto Villanueva, a Puerto Rican currently living in Sarasota who sells batches of his own coquito recipe on his website.
Villanueva learned his family's recipe while cooking with his grandmothers growing up. When he moved to the United States at age 17, he began missing the flavors of home and started experimenting to develop his own recipe. He's been sharing his handmade creation with coworkers and friends for 30 years. In September, he launched a company, Coquito Roberto, to begin selling and delivering bottles in the Sarasota and Bradenton area.
With the help of his wife, Clara, Villanueva makes six-gallon batches at his home, and has made 60 gallons since his website's launch. The couple offers pickup or delivery options of either 375 or 750 milliliter bottles, costing $15-$25 each.
"Flavors you should expect from a coquito are cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut cream or coconut-flavored rum, but some recipes will use vodka, brandy or sherry, instead," says Villanueva. "Some will even include egg yolks." The drink should be kept cold, and shaken well before drinking. And the best food to eat with a glass of coquito? Villanueva says something light and savory will pair best. He prepares fried green plantains with garlic salt for his guests on Christmas Eve.
Beyond the drink, Villanueva hopes customers experience a sense of the holiday spirit in Puerto Rico, where Christmas is a festive and social event lasting well into the New Year.
"This drink sparks nostalgia and great memories for me, and I hope it will do the same for everyone who tries it," says Villanueva.
To purchase a bottle of Coquito Roberto Puerto Rican Eggnog, click here.