Hundreds of people came out Saturday to support the 11thannual Coquito Festival at the LaReine Chicken Shack in St. Croix. According to Angel Diaz, one of the LaReine Chicken Shack’s co-owners, it’s an event that started as a way to give back to the community, and evolved when a suggestion was made to incorporate a coquito-making competition.
Dozens of people attend the festival each year to sample and purchase the traditional Coquito drink, a Puerto Rican tradition at Christmas, that is a blend of coconut milk, rum and other ingredients, and tastes like eggnog. According to the New York Times article, In Search of A Coquito Like Abuela Used to Make, “at its most basic, the drink consists of coconut milk, coconut syrup, condensed milk and spices like clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.” Most people include some type of rum in their version, but there are non-alcoholic options as well. That’s the traditional coquito.
In recent years, some of the competition’s participants spice things up by offering different flavors. This year, Miss J’s Cruzan Coquito, one of the competitors, offered five types of Coquito including the original: Traditional, Chocolate, Peppermint, Espresso and Pistachio. Another competitor, Mamacita’s Coquito, offered a completely vegan option made with no eggs.
There were two categories up for grabs…Best Coquito and Best Decorated Coquito Bottle. In addition to the Coquito contest, organizers for the event had various vendors on site, offering handmade and custom goods, as well as toys and clothing. There were also several bands, bouncies for the children, presents donated by the Marine Toys for Tots program and given out by Santa, and one of the usual highlights…the Mocko Jumbi performers or stilt dancers. They wowed the crowd dancing over individuals in the crowd’s heads and performing tricks like holding up one leg and sitting back with no chair.