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There’s so much great food to try in DC, so we’ve decided to take a deep dive into some of the city’s best dishes! We started the series last week with Immigrant Food’s Mumbai Mariachi BowlMoney Muscle BBQ’s Texas Style Brisket and Modena’s Barber II Tagliatelle, and this week we’re kicking off on a festively boozy note by taking a look at La Famosa’s coquito; here’s what Chef Joancarlo Parkhurst told us about the Puerto Rican holiday staple:

For starters, when and where did the inspiration for this dish come from?

Coquito is the quintessential holiday drink in Puerto Rico that has been enjoyed for generations on the island. It literally means “little coconut” and is made similarly but with many twists and variations from family to family. The basics include coconut, spices, milk and of course, rum.

What was the recipe development process like? Any notable trial and error moments resulting in either “AHA!” or “OH NO” breakthroughs?

Our recipe is very much a classic and we love the simplicity of it. It is something that anyone at home who can work a blender or handle a whisk can make. We serve it chilled, which is traditional and how most enjoy it. However, we have tested and perfected a warm version, which we serve to guests who choose to dine on our heated patio. We froth it with an espresso wand and while it’s not my preferred way to enjoy coquito, it works well.

Obviously all of the elements of the dish are important, but is there one in particular (whether it’s an ingredient or technique) that stands out as especially crucial?

We use a couple of standout ingredients. The first is we spice infuse ours with rum from local distiller Cotton and Reed using their Mellow Gold, a light rum aged in bourbon barrels with notes of coconut and vanilla, which are a nice complement to the base. We also garnish with boozy raisins.

It’s one thing to roll out a menu item and another to know for sure it’s a keeper. What for you solidified it as the latter?

We consider ourselves “Born in Puerto Rico. Made in DC” and no Puerto Rican holiday is complete without coquito. When we opened, we learned quickly how many Puerto Ricans in the region were craving food from home and we knew it had to be added to our holiday lineup. We serve it in the restaurant and also sell it bottled to go, so it’s a great option for holiday gifts, too.

And if someone were to order this, what are some good additional pairings (food or drink) to go with it?

Coquito is consumed like eggnog. So while it’s not meant for food pairing, many people enjoy it at La Famosa pre or post meal. We’re selling a coquito and cookie box for the holidays, which includes a bottle of coquito with an assortment of traditional Puerto Rican cookies also enjoyed during the holidays called Mantecaditos which are a shortbread style cookie and Besitos de Coco, a type of coconut macaroon. You can’t go wrong with those!


Snag some coquito (and cookies) from La Famosa

1300 4th Street SE,
Washington, DC 20003
202 921 9882

Sunday to Monday 8am – 8pm
Tuesday to Thursday 8am – 9pm
Friday to Saturday 8am – 10pm

Breakfast served 8 am – 11 am. Coffee and pastries are available all day.