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I Give You the Revered Coqui(to)

If you live here on the Big Island or you've visited in the last 12 years, you are likely familiar with a little frog called the Coqui.  Usually no bigger than a quarter, and having a croak that sounds like a bird chirp, they are deceivingly loud in densely vegetated areas at night.

Some people like the night symphony; some people have made it their mission to eradicate them.  If you've bought a home here recently, your real estate agent probably included a disclosure statement warning you about the Coqui noise.

Coquis  hitchhiked over here from Puerto Rico about 15 years ago and have thrived with no real predators.  The FDA also decided that they pose no real threat to our indigenous flora and fauna, so their effort to rid our island of the amphibians has all but abated.  Still, there are neighborhoods, that have made an emphatic vow to keep them at bay.

Here's the interesting factoid about our dear Coqui.  While here they are an unappreciated guest, in Puerto Rico, they are cherished.  So much so that there is a cocktail named for them; the Coquito.  It's a rum and coconut milk drink.  Since it's like egg nog, it is this time of year that Puerto Ricans partake in the delicious drink.  It seems that everyone has a closely guarded recipe that makes theirs the best.

While the Big Island inadvertently imported the frog, New York intentionally imported the cocktail. And last week, it hosted the 16th Annual Coquito Masters in which participants entered their best Coquito recipe to be judged.

NPR published a story by Isabel Dobrin about the Masters in which it's explained that competitors feel they are representing their families, their heritage and their ancestors with their Coquito recipe.  It's taken very seriously.  

While no one is giving up the goods in the NPR story, below is a recipe from Brandy at All Recipes that has gotten good reviews.  Give it a try.  Lift your Coquito and toast to the little buggers that inspired the delicious Coquito cocktail.


10 servings


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  1. In the top of a double boiler, combine egg yolks and evaporated milk. Stirring constantly, cook over lightly simmering water until mixture reaches a temperature of 160 degrees F (71 degrees C). The mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  2. Transfer mixture to a blender, and add cream of coconut, sweetened condensed milk, rum, water, cloves, cinnamon, and vanilla. Blend for about 30 seconds. Pour into glass bottles and chill overnight.
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