Coquito – or as it’s often described, “Puerto Rican eggnog” – is as solid a Boricua Christmas tradition as lechón asado and aguinaldos. But here in Los Nuyores, coquito season gets started a few months early, thanks to the annual Coquito Masters competition. Kicking off in late October, the competition scours the tri-state area for a recipe worthy of crowning the creamy champ. Holding nine qualifiers across three boroughs, that means plenty of opportunities over the next two months to guzzle the sweet stuff to your heart’s content.
To enter, contestants must simply pay a $25 entry fee and show up with a gallon of their best coquito – and let’s be real, everyone seems to think their recipe is the best. The basics are more or less agreed up on, but often subject to tweaking: coconut cream and milk, condensed milk, nutmeg, egg yolk, rum, cloves, and cinnamon. Some use a dash of vanilla, a pinch of syrup, switch up leche condensada with evaporada, or just add a distillery’s load of rum. But all are prepared for a fierce contest – Coquito Masters has been around for 15 years and the judges don’t play. (Past competitors are rumored to have resorted to tactics like stealing their dad’s recipe from a tightly guarded safe underneath the bed.)
The good news is, if you’re afraid your recipe wont stand up to some old lady’s method handed down from her bisabuela in Naranjito, then you can just show up to one of the qualifiers or the final on December 17th to sample glass after glass.
And if you still find yourself fiending, you can also hit up Brooklyn Coquito’s launch party on Thursday, November 17th. Helmed by married couple Johnny and Athena, Brooklyn Coquito offers door to door delivery of their delicious homemade coquito all through the holiday season, and they’ll be taking Thanksgiving orders at the event.
Happy coquito season!