Bronx qualifier and past competitor Jose Stevenson is up for the challenge. Thanks to his madrina Lily, Stevenson grew up learning a thing or two about the drink from his family’s go-to coquito concocter. A few years before she passed, he learned her recipe and was motivated to enter the competition. “I started making coquito exactly the way she told me then I started to experiment with certain variations of it,” Stevenson says of his recipe. “She had perfected it so I started reverting back to the original recipe as much as possible.” What’s his key ingredient? “As cliché as it may sound I would honestly say love,” Stevenson responds. ”If I make a batch that I rushed through, you can easily taste the difference.”
Qualifying rounds started in early November and end with the finals this Saturday, December 16th, in the Bronx at the Bronx Museum of Arts. Twelve qualifiers will be narrowed down to three through a public vote, and then judged by culinary experts. The coquito champion is rewarded with a trophy and the grand title of Coquito Master, a “damn good validation” according to Quiñones.
If you still need a fix, visit La Marqueta de Coquito where visitors can purchase coquitos from tri-state locals. During the Three Kings Day Bar Crawl, which has attracted over 600 people in years past, local El Barrio bars and restaurants like Amor Cubano, Grand Piattro d’Oro Restaurant and the East Harlem Café, will feature the coquitos for tasting and purchase. For details e-mail email@example.com.