Christmas cocktails are a tradition in every culture and in Latin America that’s no different with many countries having their own version of eggnog. This list is devoted to all those Latin American creations that involve a little cream, a little alcohol and a lot of love for Navidad. Learn a little bit about the origin stories of Mexico’s rompope, ponche de crème from the Caribbean and Puerto Rico’s beloved coquito. ‘Tis the season to drink and be merry, and this year especially calls for making the best of being at home so give these LATAM cream-based cocktails a literal shot or two.
Rompope has been around since the 17th century, when nuns in a Santa Clara convent in Puebla, Mexico first developed it. The sisters derived their recipe from ponche de huevo, or “egg punch,” which came to Mexico from Spain. Unlike American eggnog, rompope has a yellow hue since it’s made with cooked yolks and no egg whites. The word “rompope” comes from “rompon” the Spanish word for their version of eggnog that arrived in Mexico and both include rum. Mely Martinez of Mexico in My Kitchen has a recipe that includes cinnamon, cloves and vanilla.
Ponche de Crème
During the British colonization of the Caribbean, the combination of dairy and spirits became the drink of choice of the upper class elite as they could afford it. Venezuelan chemist and perfumer Eliodoro González Poleo is considered to have been the first to have introduced it to the market, through his company, the Central Liquor Store. According to lore, the “ponche” in ponche de crème comes from the addition of Puncheon rum which registers at 75 percent alcohol by volume. Simply Caribbean has a recipe for pumpkin ponche with ginger and cardamom.
The “small coconut” drink is made up of four base components regardless of the recipe: coconut milk, coconut cream, Puerto Rican rum and sweetened condensed milk, and can contain egg yolks, however that’s not traditional. This beloved Puerto Rican drink reportedly made its first appearance in the 1900s appearing in Puerto Rican cookbooks Cocine a Gusto and The Puerto Rican Cookbook between 1950 and 1970. The island’s love for this Christmas drink is so strong Destilería Serrallés, the makers of Don Q (a PR-based rum), launched National Coquito Day in 2018. The Sofrito Project shares a variation of her family’s coquito recipe that’s inline with the traditional version.