Considered the national drink of Puerto Rico, Pina Coladas are just one drink out of many that the island is known for. However, when it comes to the popular cocktails we are about to discuss, Pina Coladas are just a gateway to the world of rum cocktails! 

The best puerto rican rum

In Rum Distilleries & Tours of Puerto Rico, we discuss the history of rum in Puerto Rico and where you can visit to taste the finest the island has to offer. If you’re looking to spend a day checking out some of the historic rum distilleries in and around San Juan, article provides a distilled introduction to the rum scene. 

While there are many brands you can choose from served in bars and restaurants all over the island, these rum brands have the best reputation, quality, and highest standards:

 Rum cocktails

Puerto Rico’s time-honored rum history and tradition is long and storied. Rum’s presence in Puerto Rico dates back to the early sixteenth century. Economically vital to the island, rum is an island legacy that has only grown richer over time.

Coquito: an island take on eggnog

The first cocktail we will discuss is the much-beloved coquito, or “Little Coconut” in Spanish. The history of how the drink was first introduced to Puerto Rico is relatively uncertain. But, it is believed that the Spaniards may have brought it over during the colonial period. Therefore, this drink likely originated from the Spanish version of eggnog (sans the eggs), with the incorporation of rum. 

Coquito recipe

Like eggnog, coquito is a cocktail most often consumed during the Christmas holiday season. The ingredients are blended and chilled before serving. It’s like Puerto Rico’s version of spiked eggnog with coconut. Try out this coquito recipe to make and serve, regardless of where you happen to be:

Ingredients:

  • Sweetened Condensed Milk – 1 (140z) can  
  • Cream of Coconut – 1 (15 oz) can
  • Evaporated Milk – 1 (12oz) can
  • Coconut Milk – 1 (13.5 oz) can 
  • Vanilla extract 2 teaspoons (or you can use one fresh vanilla bean after cutting the bean in half and scraping out the vanilla from inside)
  • Cinnamon sticks – around 2 sticks (or more, depending on if you want to use more to garnish the cocktails in the glass)
  • Nutmeg – ½ teaspoon of grated or ground nutmeg
  • Rum – 1 to 2 cups worth
  • To garnish: add some grated nutmeg or cinnamon, or both even!

Directions:

  • You’re going to begin by steeping all of the ingredients, except for the rum. Combine the sweetened condensed milk, cream of coconut, evaporated milk, coconut milk, vanilla, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg in a medium or large saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  • Once it has begun to simmer, take the saucepan off of the heat.
  • Cover the mixture and let sit for around 30 minutes.
  • Remove the cinnamon sticks (and vanilla bean if used) and then pour the contents from the saucepan into a pitcher.
  • Add 1 to 2 cups of rum – use your best judgment on how strong you would like it.
  • Chill the mixture in the fridge between 2 hours minimum and up to 3 days maximum. 
  • It can be served plain or over ice and top with nutmeg or cinnamon garnishes. 
  • Sip, savor, and enjoy!

Pistachio coquito and flavors galore

There are so many kinds of coquito variations to try! Some of which include: Nutella, Chocolate, pumpkin, and vegan options. Another popular version to try out is the Pistachio coquito. If you want to see more about making your own but want to see what flavors there are to choose from, check out these 10 Puerto Rican Coquito recipes

 Pitorro the “moonshine rum”

The word “pitorro” translates to “to be pickled” in Spanish and is referred to as “moonshine rum.” In Puerto Rico, this distilled liquor dates back to the 18th century, when sugarcane was becoming more readily available. Pitorro is made from fermented sugarcane that is then distilled, aged, and stored in barrels — similar to rum. However, it packs a unique flavor.

Traditionally, pitorro is enjoyed during the Three Kings holiday and is usually served with a slice of lime. This is a highly potent drink with alcohol levels that often exceed 100 proof. So be careful when consuming this drink and be aware of the powerful punch it packs. It can be served neat, with sugar and lime, or combined with various flavors, including many kinds of fruit and spices.

Chichaito

A chichaito is a shooter of equal parts anisette and white rum. If you’re not familiar with anisette, it is a liqueur flavored with distilled anise and is known for its robust and black licorice flavor. The two ingredients are shaken in ice and then poured into a shot glass. 

Follow this simple recipe if you want to mix this up for yourself. Maybe add your twist or flavor to it to make it your own, but remember that it already has quite a strong flavor, so be careful how you customize it. Regardless, be sure to try the drink in its traditional form somewhere along the line.

Cobblestone streets in Old San Juan

Bilí: a quenepas-infused rum

Bilí is a digestif that originated on the island of Vieques in Puerto Rico. A digestif is an alcoholic beverage served in small portions after a meal to encourage digestion and is traditionally consumed in a social setting. Digestif variations that are served tend to vary with each culture, but the practice is most associated with the French. 

Bilí is a rum usually fermented with a local island fruit called quenepas. Quenepas are referred to as the “Spanish lime” grown on a tree with fruit that has the outer appearance of a lime, with an interior fruit that is bright orange and looks like a gelatinous tangerine. The fruit is a mixture of sweet and sour and tastes a bit like lime and a bit like lychee. 

If you are interested in learning how to make your own Bilí, check out this fun and colorful video that breaks the process down into ten easy steps.

 Mavi

Made from the bark of the Mavi tree, the beverage mavi comes in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions. Fruit and spices get boiled with the bark, and the alcoholic version is fermented with sugar. In some Caribbean islands, mavi is also called “mauby,” and this bittersweet tasting drink is also consumed for health benefits.

If you’re interested in trying your hand at making the non-alcoholic mocktail, try out this recipe from cafedepuertorico.com or the alcoholic version with the Mauby Drink recipe. You can purchase the mauby bark online. There is even pre-bottled in syrup form for those who want to skip making the concentrate. The syrup form simply needs to be mixed with water.

Eat. Drink. Stay.

Cocktails on the beach at Numero Uno Beach House, San Juan

If you are in the process of planning your island getaway, may we suggest booking a room at one of our Numero Uno locations? You can experience the best that the island has to offer at Numero Uno. You can find water sports, delicious food and drinks, and rest after a long day, all in one place. 

Our top-rated restaurants at Ocean Park’s Beach House and our new poolside retreat in Piñones serve up Puerto Rican cuisine with a twist. You can even relax at our poolside bar after a long day. We’ll be delighted to serve you your favorite drinks and cocktails, including the ones we covered in this piece. Down some sweet island rum next to the pool or beach, and see just how relaxing and enjoyable we can make your stay!