Since at least 1775, people have enjoyed eggnog. It may have started off as a drink of the British aristocracy, but people all over the world now drink it. In that time, it’s become the unofficial drink of December, and it’s no different across Latin America – though the names and ingredients vary. But part of the beauty of Latin American cuisine is that there are so many influences. So while egg-based drinks are widespread, there’s plenty of other types of beverages to put people in the holiday mood.
Check out 10 Latin American drinks that bring us joy during the holidays:
As the name suggests, canelazo is cinnamon based. Enjoyed in Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru, canelazo’s an alcoholic beverage from the Andes. Though canelazo varies from region to region, common ingredients include panela, anís, agua de canela, naranjilla, and aguardiente.
But this warm Andean drink can also include other fruits like mora or maracuyá – explaining why the color can resemble either orange juice or maple syrup. Sometimes, canelazo’s non-alcoholic.
In Ecuador, canelazo’s consumed during the Fiestas de Quito, which takes place from the end of November to December 6. It’s also popular during Christmastime.
For Puerto Ricans (and many other Latinos), it’s not the holidays without coquito. This highly beloved drink is like an isleño version of eggnog, but better. Coquito’s a perfect concoction of coconut cream and milk, condensed milk, nutmeg, rum, cloves, and cinnamon. “The difference is that ponche has eggs, and our coquito doesn’t,” said Chef Rita Rosado, of Sweet Cow & Rita’s Cuisine, to El Nuevo Día. It’s not a standard decision across all Puerto Rican households. But eggless coquitos do last longer.
“A typical Christmastime coquito includes rum, but if we want to make it for children, we can eliminate all alcohol, follow the same recipe and add chocolate,” Rosado added. “And we also can do other flavors like guava or pineapple.”
Either way, we know that people take coquito season v. seriously. Right now, there’s probably coquito entrepreneurs taking orders.
Panamanians takes the sepals of the roselle plant to make a bright red drink called saril. In a pot, they boil water, ground ginger, roselle sepals, and cloves. The intensity of the drink – served hot or cold – depends on the amount of sepals used. Use sugar or honey to sweeten it. However, a good tip is to only add sugar/honey to what you plan to immediately drink. Otherwise, the saril will quickly ferment.
Chef Rolando González explains that Jamaicans also drink saril. However, the beverage originally comes from Africa and Asia. “It came to Panama from the Caribbean, but it doesn’t originate in the Caribbean or the Americas,” González told La Estrella. It ended up in the Central American country because of the cultural exchange that took place during the building of the Panama Canal.
Saril’s consumed in other parts of the world (where it goes by different names). Though, it’s not always thought of as a holiday drink. In Panama, it naturally became a December beverage because it lines up with flower’s harvest period.
Mexican ponche’s not quite like most Latin American ponches. Instead of an egg base, this ponche’s a warm fruit punch traditionally served at Christmastime. Piloncillo, dark-brown unrefined cane sugar, guavas, oranges, apples, tejocotes, and cinnamon sticks make up this delicious citrusy beverage. Add in rum or tequila when you really need it.
Coctel de Algarrobina
Peruvians celebrate algarrobinas on March 15, but they happily sip the cocktail in December. Back in the day, algarrobina recipes called for a ponchera. But now you need a blender – making the cold cocktail perfectly frothy. As Peru Delights reports, the cocktail’s name comes from the syrup the algarrobo tree produces. The thick syrup infuses a caramel taste.
Legend has it that the drink came from colonial times when Spanish monks made an egg, milk, and wine ponche. But the recipe changed throughout the years, with the wine first substituted for rum and later pisco. Though people continue to make the recipe their own with ingredients like sweetened condensed milk or cacao, the traditional algarrobina includes egg yolks, unsweetened condensed milk, Pisco, and cinnamon.
But if you don’t feel like making it and you happen to find yourself in Peru, you can try the Marquès bar’s version. The Dirección Regional de Turismo recognized it as the best Algarrobina cocktail.
Ponche Crema de Oro
Ponche exists in many forms in the Dominican Republic. The chocolate-based ponches – typically made with gallina criolla eggs and sometimes coffee – are drank year-round and served warm. They’re not necessarily alcoholic, but they can be. The eggnog variety of ponche is what’s served in December. While some people make their own versions, others just turn to Ponche Crema de Oro – a mass produced version seen on tables across the DR.
Atol de Elote
Guatemalans don’t really need a reason to drink atol de elote, but it’s certainly popular during the holidays. Atol de elote is a sweet beverage made of white corn, water, cornstarch, and ground cinnamon. Dating back to pre-Colombian times, the beverage is enjoyed in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico, and other countries.
Atoles are warm beverages made of corn that can be flavored with just about anything. For chocolate lovers, champurrado is the way to go. The Mexican drink’s a thick hot chocolate made of corn, piloncillos (unrefined whole cane sugar), and chocolate. Despite champurrado’s richness, the low amounts of dairy (though some people certainly use milk) make it easier to knock them back.
Crema de Vie
For Cubans, the holidays aren’t incomplete without Crema de Vie. This rich drink contains sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, egg yolks, sugar, water, vanilla, and white rum. Three Guy From Miami explain that Cubans – both on the island and in the United States – enjoy the drink during Christmas, even though the recipes slightly vary.
Rompope made its way across Latin America. According to Serious Eats, “the first rompope was brewed by nuns in the Santa Clara convent in Puebla, Mexico in the 17th century, a derivation of Spanish ponche de huevo. At the time, the Catholic church was prominent in government and society, and convents often hosted visiting officials dignitaries. As such, fine cuisine was developed in the cloisters with the Clarists garnering much acclaim for their confections and sweets.”
Supposedly, Sister Eduvidges requested permissions so that the nuns could drink rompope, which they previously only made. And though the recipe regularly calls for egg yolks, milk, aguardiente or rum, and other spices, Eduviges included a secret ingredient that she took to the grave.
The beverage spread to places like El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Belize. In Nicaragua, rompope’s served warm.
Cola de Mono
The process of making Cola de Mono, a milk-based beverage with aguardiente, cinnamon, cloves, and other ingredients, is easy. However, finding answers on why a beverage was named after a monkey’s tail isn’t. Publimetro Chile sought Jaime Campusano, the author of Chilenismos y Shilenismos, to learn more about the drink’s origins.
Legend has it that back in the day, Chilean President Pedro Montt went on a tour of the Pacific and parts of South America. He ended up in Peru, where he tried an eggnog-type concoction. When he went to the United States, his wife delighted people with the drink. When asked what the name of it was, no one knew how to answer. But having just received a Colt pistol from the president, someone suggested, Colt de Montt. And eventually the drink became known as cola de mono, which definitely rolls of the tongue more easily.