Switch up your nog this year by whipping up a batch of coquito

Mixing some coquito at home is quick and easy; just pop open a few cans and sprinkle in spices. Angela Hansberger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Mixing some coquito at home is quick and easy; just pop open a few cans and sprinkle in spices. Angela Hansberger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Angela Hansberger

Credit: Angela Hansberger

The holidays are a time for tradition — the tree, the lights, the carols, the nog.

What is a “nog,” exactly? A nog is a drink, especially an alcoholic one, containing beaten eggs.

OK, so why do they call it eggnog? Isn’t egginess already implied in nog? It’s as confounding as why we sing about jingling bells put on a horse with the hair of his tail bobbed.

Here’s a better idea for making spirits bright: Switch things up. It’s 2020, after all.

This year, whip up some coquito for yourself, or to give to neighbors and friends. It’s easy, it’s like a vacation in a glass, and (whispers) it’s better than eggnog.

Meaning “little coconut,” coquito is a mainstay holiday beverage hailing from Puerto Rico. With a similar flavor profile, some call it island eggnog or Puerto Rican eggnog. Recipes passed down within families may vary slightly, but what they have in common is their dense, silky, coconutty, rum-spiked creaminess.

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El Super Pan's coquito Boricua is available by the glass or bottle. Courtesy of J. Alburi
El Super Pan's coquito Boricua is available by the glass or bottle. Courtesy of J. Alburi

Credit: J. Alburi

Credit: J. Alburi

Coquito is made with coconut milk, rather than heavy cream. Some recipes do call for eggs, but most call for an eggless formula. Same goes for rum-soaked raisins — some use them; most don’t. And, if you are thinking “tropical” means cracking open coconuts to yield small amounts of milk, think again. The tradition is to pop open a can.

El Super Pan chef-owner Hector Santiago, who was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, celebrates with coquito at home, and at his restaurants in Ponce City Market and at the Battery.

“Our Puerto Rican coquito is a Christmas tradition celebrated on the island and abroad,” he said. “It’s our take on eggnog, made of our island ingredients: Puerto Rican rum, coconut cream and spices.”

It’s available through the beginning of the New Year, by the glass or by the 750-milliliter bottle ($28). Santiago uses a blend of Puerto Rican white rum and dark Jamaican rum for richness in his coquito Boricua.

El Super Pan's Hector Santiago makes coquito every holiday season to remind him of Puerto Rico. Courtesy of El Super Pan
El Super Pan's Hector Santiago makes coquito every holiday season to remind him of Puerto Rico. Courtesy of El Super Pan

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Besides being tropically delicious and easy, coquito also freezes well. It makes a great gift in a Mason jar, or in a bottle tied with a ribbon.

You can garnish it to suit your taste buds or aesthetics. Try adding ginger or cardamom, and instead of — or in addition to — vanilla extract, add almond extract. You also can use fresh vanilla beans, and you could add coffee extract, too. Dust the top with nutmeg or cinnamon, or place cinnamon sticks or star anise on top. Or, you could rim the glass with shredded coconut before pouring the creamy concoction inside. And, for a fancy treat, try soaking French toast in coquito.

El Super Pan. 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-600-2465; 455 Legends Place, Atlanta. 404-521-6500, elsuperpan.com.

Coquito
  • 1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 8-ounce can cream of coconut
  • 1 14-ounce can condensed milk
  • 1-2 cups rum (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • In a blender, add all the ingredients. Blend on the high setting, until well combined. Serve over ice. To store, pour it into a bottle or jar. You can refrigerate for up to a month. Shake well before serving. Serves six to eight

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving, based on eight: 430 calories (percent of calories from fat, 60), 6 grams protein, 32 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 26 grams total fat (22 grams saturated), 17 milligrams cholesterol, 72 milligrams sodium.

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