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  • Writer's pictureKathleen Burnard

Peter and Naomi’s Coquito

Yellow glass owl pitcher and glass of coquito on a table

So, confession time. Growing up, I didn’t actually know what eggnog was. I thought I knew! But it turns out what I thought was standard American eggnog was actually a variation on coquito, a Puerto Rican holiday drink. No one in my family is Puerto Rican. So how is it that this was our standard family eggnog recipe?

Before I was born and well into my first few years of life, my parents frequented a small sushi bar in Southern California. When I say frequented, I mean that to this day, plain white sushi rice and green tea ice cream are the most nostalgic flavors in my mind. Sushi was some of my very first food (and remains my very favorite food). My mother embroidered Mitsu and Misha (the chefs and owners) a picture, which they framed and hung in the restaurant. There were jokes about Mitsu being my real father because of the way I inhaled nigiri (for the record- he is definitely not my father...I just really like sushi).

Anyway! Back to the coquito. My parents met this couple, Peter and Naomi, at that bar and became great friends. When I was about 2, we went to their house for a holiday party. They served this drink, which was Naomi’s family’s recipe. We loved it, and she was gracious enough to write down the recipe for my mother. And that was that! It’s my only real holiday tradition. I’ve made it every year for my entire adult life.

It’s relatively simple, but does require some work. There are about 6 million cans to open (okay, so maybe its actually 8 cans, but it definitely feels like 6 million). You have to separate many, many eggs. there’s a lot of stirring involved. But I promise it’s worth it. A lot of coquito recipes don’t include eggs at all, but they add a rich, velvety feel. So here they shall stay!

I usually make a double batch, so that’s what I’m using here. I can’t really have alcohol, so I like to make enough to have an alcoholic batch for anyone else that might want it along with a nonalcoholic batch. You can definitely halve this and be just fine.

You’ll start by separating the eggs. You’re only using the yolks, but it doesn’t matter if some of the whites sneak in. Don’t throw away the remaining egg whites, though! Use them for meringue or macarons or something.

Put the yolks into a cold pot with the evaporated milk. Whisk them together while letting the pot heat up slowly. You want the yolks to get hot enough to be safe, but we’re not making scrambled eggs here. Leave the heat on low.

Then carefully add the coconut cream. I say carefully because it will have inevitably separated in the can, and the last thing you want is to splash yourself and your counter with hot dairy in the process of adding in coconut solids. Use the whole can, including the liquid at the bottom. Trust me, you want all possible coconut. The final product doesn’t taste particularly tropical, but that flavor note is important.

Once the coconut has melted into the egg mixture, add the sweetened condensed milk. Whisk everything together for a little while, then add the vanilla. There isn’t a magic number of minutes here. At this point the eggs are safe to consume, the heat just makes it easier to combine everything smoothly.

Alright, now you have a couple of options. You’re really supposed to blend everything with a blender now. If you have an immersion blender, go at it. Otherwise, pour it all into a standard blender and blend until smooth and frothy. Honestly, I usually skip this step. Pouring liquids is a challenge, especially if they’re hot or heavy. So you can also just strain it directly into a pitcher. Or...don’t. I usually find that it’s smooth enough without straining (if I let it heat up gradually enough, that is).

Then add the cinnamon sticks and rum if you’re using it. All that’s left is refrigerating it until it’s cold! Pour it over ice and top it with ground nutmeg (this is optional, but extremely tasty). Enjoy!


Peter and Naomi’s Coquito

🥄🥄; makes two pitchers

  • 8 egg yolks

  • 4 12oz cans evaporated milk

  • 2 13 oz cans coconut cream

  • 2 14 oz cans sweetened condensed milk

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

  • spiced rum to taste (optional)

  • ground nutmeg to taste (optional)

1. In a large pot on the stove, whisk together egg yolks and evaporated milk on low heat until the yolks are no longer visible. Continue to heat on low and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes.

2. Carefully add the coconut cream, in small spoonfuls if necessary, and gently whisk until incorporated.

3. Add the sweetened condensed milk and gently whisk until incorporated.

4. Add the vanilla extract and whisk briefly.

5. Remove from heat.

6. 🥄🥄 Carefully strain into a pitcher. OR-

6a. 🥄🥄🥄 Use an imersion blender or pour mixture into standard blender. Blend until smooth. Then pour into a pitcher.

7. Add the cinnamon sticks to the pitcher.

8. Add the rum, if using.

9. Refrigerate and serve cold, over ice, with ground nutmeg on top.

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