Puerto Rico is the origination place of cool and refreshing tropical cocktails, like the Piña Colada and Coquito. Learn about the different island drinks and be sure to try them all the next time you are in PR!
The Coquito is Puerto Rico's version of eggnog without the "egg-y" taste. Outside of the Piña Colada, this is another local Puerto Rican favorite. It is coconut based cocktail containing coconut milk, coconut cream, sweet condensed milk, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, egg yolks and rum. The drink is customarily served with Christmas holidays meals and refreshments. The homemade version of Coquito is most widely enjoyable. However, if you can't make it yourself, the store bought rendition will work as well.
How about another island favorite – the Chichaito? It is made of 1 part white rum and 1 part Anise (anisette liquor), and includes licorice. For those who need to lessen the licorice flavor, add lemon and honey to the mix. Chichaito is effortlessly located at any bar, and runs at about $1-2 per shot.
A rum called Bili is usually found during the summer months. It is fermented with the Quenepas fruit, a product of a tree called the mamoncillo. Combined with vanilla, brown sugar, and cinnamon, the Quenepas fruit is added to white rum and then stored in a dark place for approximately one month. How and where it is stored varies depending on how consumers want it to taste. It has been said that it’s required to be stored in a coconut or buried in the ground. There are also debates surrounding the different spices involved. As for our secret ingredient: how about a little maple syrup? A touch of this additive helps the rum go down easily and is such a delight!
Pitorro is not easily found in Puerto Rico and is mostly available during the holiday season. Pittoro is the island's adaptation of Moonshine. It is made of fermented sugar cane, or Caña, with fruits and spices blended into it. Pitorro is preserved for months in a dark storage area. Covert rum business is not frequent today in Puerto Rico, particularly since sugar cane production has significantly declined on the island. Pitorro is still produced, however, generally for holiday traditions.
And last but certainly not least, the fabulous Piña Colada! It was invented in 1954 by Ramon “Monchito” Marrero while he worked at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan. He created the Piña Colada as a special drink to tempt the hotel patrons, and it has been the official beverage of Puerto Rico since 1978. The Barrachine Restaurant in Old San Juan also takes credit for developing this sweet cocktail made with rum, cream of coconut, and pineapple juice, usually served blended and garnished with a maraschino cherry.
One final but very important aspect to enjoying these island cocktails is to say "Salud!" to everyone’s well being. Share your favorite version of Puerto Rico’s cocktails in the comments section.
Note: Blog written in cooperation with Caribbean Trading Company (http://caribbeantrading.com/).