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Coquito

(By Julia Ewan -- The Washington Post)

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By Staff Favorites
Wednesday, December 20, 2006

An occasional series in which staff members share a recipe that we turn to time and again (or liked right away):

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My mother's traditional English eggnog -- thickened with whipped cream, seasoned with freshly grated nutmeg and fortified with a hefty dose of Irish whiskey -- was not a part of the Christmas holiday that I looked forward to, although I did acquire a taste for Old Paddy at an early age.

But on a recent trip to Puerto Rico's mountain towns I discovered a delicious, coconutty nog of a different ilk.

Minutes after check-in at a remote retreat, as I accustomed myself to the dense tropical vegetation and a cacophony of tree frogs and cooing doves, out came my co-host holding a single shot glass filled with a milky beige liquid. I expected a piƱa colada, but it was Puerto Rican eggnog.

"It's rich and potent," he told me. "You don't need a lot of it." It turns out the kick comes from a clear sugar cane distillate with twice the alcohol by volume as rum. (Light rum, for recipe purposes, is a close relative.) There's a hint of cinnamon and additional flavor from raisins and maraschino cherries.

But it's the intense coconut flavor, the taste of the islands, that takes this seasonal drink a step above my mother's nog.

-- Walter Nicholls


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