Mixed drinks are one of those things that are ripe with potential. But that potential could be either good or bad, depending on what you decide to mix with your alcohol. Apparently, a favorite among some of the more adventurous among us is coconut milk.
Coconut milk, you ask? Indeed. Coconut milk is making a comeback on the mixed drink scene, after having been out of style since the introduction of those nasty artificial sweeteners that now dominate rum drinks and daiquiris. But you’ve got to like coconut to make it work.
Technically Not a Nut
Most people don’t realize that coconuts aren’t technically nuts. Instead, Imbibe Magazine explains that it’s scientifically classified as a seed. Inside this rather protuberant seed there are three substances: water, milk, and cream.
Please note that the three substances are not what we normally think of when we read the associated terms. In other words, coconut water isn’t the same stuff that comes out of your tap. Imbibe explains it as being a low-fat liquid with some definite thickness to it. By the same token, coconut milk and cream are not all that similar to what comes out of Bessie the cow.
Perhaps it’s better that we don’t discuss this any further. Let’s just stick with the terms we know; they’re familiar and make us feel good about our drinks. Besides, as long as a coconut drink tastes good, that’s all that really matters.
Different Coconut Drinks
The Cooky Coconuts Store (how’s that for a fun-sounding party name?) says that the coconut palm is more popular throughout the Caribbean than the family cow. We don’t know what the family cow has to do with it unless, of course, a lack of coconut milk would necessitate putting a little bovine lactate in your rum.
That rather strange image notwithstanding, the Caribbean is famous for its coconut-based mixed drinks. For example, the Coconut Canal mixes gin, condensed milk, bitters, and coconut for a bluish concoction that resembles Caribbean waters fairly remarkably. It sounds a lot better than a root canal, that’s for sure.
Another concoction enjoyed by Caribbean drinkers is called the Coconut Grove. This is a lovely compilation of coconut, rum, banana cream, pineapple juice, and lemon juice. It sounds very tropical, doesn’t it? You can almost hear the steel drums and marimbas in the background.
Speaking of steel drums and marimbas, fans of the piña colada are typically drinking either coconut milk or cream as part of their beloved concoction. The drink was allegedly first invented in Puerto Rico in the 1950s after several months of experimentation at the Beachcomber Bar in San Juan.
Before Artificial Sweeteners
Some people add coconut milk to mixed drinks because they like the coconut flavor. But its primary purpose in the alcoholic beverage world is to act as a sweetener. This is nothing new. Coconut milk and cream have been used as sweeteners for centuries.
In China and Taiwan, for example, folks have been drinking coconut milk concoctions for as long as anyone can remember. They’re known to mix the milk with evaporated milk, sugar, and other ingredients to create chilled drinks that are perfect on hot days. The main difference between ancient and modern times is that we now mix coconut milk with alcohol.
Leave it to the U.S. FDA to take all the fun out of the weekend’s parties. The government agency discourages the consumption of coconut oil and milk because of its high concentration of saturated fat. According to MSN News, there hasn’t been enough positive evidence presented to the FDA to get them to change their minds.
That being said, we don’t figure there’s any danger of explosively high cholesterol levels as a result of drinking one or two coconut milk drinks per month. It seems reasonable that the average drinker would have to be consuming coconut milk cocktails exclusively in order to have any real problems. And who wants to do that when there’s also beer, wine, and thousands of different mixed drinks?
Whatever Floats Your Boat
As we said before, mixed drinks have a lot of potential. If you’re the kind of person who loves coconut, adding it to your favorite alcoholic beverage may be a very good idea. Why stop at rum? You could add coconut milk to just about anything your taste buds can tolerate.
If you’re new to the whole coconut milk and alcohol thing, we recommend you start slowly. Plan a Caribbean-themed yard party for your closest friends, load up the bar, and have at it. You might want to bring in an expert mixologist if you’re worried about screwing it up.
Oh yes, there’s one other thing. If you’re going to put coconut milk in your drinks, you must be wearing a Hawaiian shirt to complete the ensemble. Coconut milk, steel drums, and marimbas just don’t work with the polyester polo shirt you got off the clearance rack.