Sunset on St John

Coquito: A Traditional Drink to Try on Your USVI Vacation

January 30, 2022

A trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands puts you in the perfect place to enjoy gorgeous white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and the opportunity to take part in exciting excursions such as snorkeling or hiking through amazing local trails. After all that fun in the sun, sipping on a tropical cocktail gives you a delicious way to relax while you indulge in the unique flavors that highlight all that makes this travel destination the ultimate paradise.

When you visit the USVI, you’ll likely encounter several people recommending the coquito holiday drink as a way to fully immerse yourself in the rich history of the islands. While the recipe may vary from place to place, you’ll quickly discover that this is the go-to cocktail for enjoying a cool drink as you take in the beautiful view, whether you are sitting beachside or on the patio at your vacation rental. Whatever you plan to do on your vacation, including a drink of this creamy cocktail gives you a taste of what the locals consider a traditional holiday drink.

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What Is the History of the Coquito?

If you ask 10 people about the origin of coquito, you’re likely to get 10 different answers. This is because the true history of coquito is unknown. While the drink can’t be traced back to a specific person or event, there are strong indications that coquito was brought to the USVI during the height of the Puerto Rican migration.

You’ll first want to know that Puerto Rican cuisine is influenced by a mixture of Spanish, African and indigenous cultures. Some theories include the idea that Spanish colonizers brought their own eggnog recipe and began to infuse it with Puerto Rican rum. Later, some coconut came into play, which led to a recipe that is much like what you can enjoy on your vacation today.

Over time, people began to teach their families how to make a coquito using different variations that turned into family recipes and a popular drink for Puerto Ricans to take along on their parrandas. Now, you can find a coquito that resembles a fusion of traditional eggnog and those frosty coconut drinks that everyone loves to sip on at the beach. You may also find that local bars and restaurants offer elevated versions of the drink by adding flavors such as cocoa and strawberry to their sweet concoctions.

Is a Coquito the Same as Eggnog?

The best way to view coquito is to view it as a fancier, more tropical version of eggnog. People often ask if a coquito has eggs, and the answer to this is that it depends upon the recipe. While the traditional eggnog that you might have had during the holidays in the past relies heavily on eggs and heavy cream to create a custard-like base, a coquito doesn’t necessarily have to contain those ingredients. 

In fact, you’ll find that opinions vary widely on whether eggs should be included in the recipe. Some people love the thicker texture that eggs add, while others would prefer to avoid having raw ingredients included in their drink.

One of the best things about a coquito is that the recipe is easy to adapt to your preferences. If you are enjoying this drink while you are on a USVI vacation, then just let your bartender or server know how to turn this drink into one that you love. 

They can either reassure you that eggs aren’t included in their traditional recipe, or they can leave them out as they whip up your drink. If you love eggs, then they can also easily be included. Just don’t let this worry hold you back from savoring one of the most distinctive drinks that travelers enjoy on the islands during the winter season.

While the drink is traditionally served with rum, you can also request a non-alcoholic version of the coquito. Enjoying a virgin version of the drink still lets you take in the tropical flavors without having to worry about whether you’ll feel mentally sharp as you take part in the excursions you planned for your family. You can also swap out rum for tequila or your favorite liquor or ask for a heavier pour if your whole plan for the day is to simply relax in the sun.

If you can not wait to get to the US Virgin Islands or are nostalgic, you can always whip up one at home and close your eyes and taste the Virgin Islands, as you sip your homemade Coquito drink:

Coquito Traditional Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 (12 oz) can Evaporated Milk
  • 1 (14 oz) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 cups (1 15 oz can) Cream of Coconut
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract or Flavored Syrup
  • 1 1/2 cup - 2 cups of Light (White) Rum
  • Cinnamon Sticks

If you need to make a vegan version of a coquito cocktail recipe at home are:                                                     The Conscious Plant Kitchen - suggests the following Vegan Friendly Ingredients 

  • 14 oz. Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk
  • 2 cups Cream of Coconut
  • 6oz Unsweetened Canned Coconut Milk
  • 6oz Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups of Light (White) Rum or;
    • split servings 2 parts (1 cup) Light(White) Rum and (1/2 cup) 1 part Spiced Rum
  • Optional add - 2 tsp. Shredded Coconut and have extra to garnish the rim of glass.

Is Rum Vegan?

Yes, most rum brands and spirits are vegan-friendly and don’t involve animals in their process. The only liquors that are not vegan are the ones using honey or cream.

For Virgin (Non-Alcoholic)  Coquitos

It is simple to whip up Virgin Coquitos, too.

Substitute Rum measurements with Extra Coconut Milk - recommended to split 2 parts Sweetened Coconut Milk and 1 part Unsweetened Coconut Milk.

Optional, if going for a match of taste in alcoholic Coquito, add rum extract.

Try an expensive and classy Amoreti light rum extract. The truth is any rum (dark, light, spiced) extract will work for taste, as rum extract is also non-alcoholic.

How to Make A Coquito ?

Give the Coquito a Try on Your Visit to St. John

From the moment that you step onto St. John, USVI, you are immersed in a tropical paradise that is filled with chances to learn more about the local culture as you enjoy your vacation experience. Celebrate with a honeymoon or a tropical wedding, by coming to The Hills in USVI, make sure to head into one of the local cocktail bars, request a coquito and discover what might just become your new favorite winter tradition.

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