How to Make Cola de Mono, Chilean Christmas Coffee Punch

Did you remember to make your egg nog a few weeks ago? If you've been playing along at home, you should have a tasty batch of luscious chocolate coquito waiting in your fridge, ready to serve at a quickly upcoming holiday party.

Or maybe something happened. Someone found it and drank the better part of it, not knowing you were saving it for a special occasion. Coquito does have a peculiar way of evaporating despite being in a well-sealed container. (At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.) Or maybe you just got so wrapped up in Thanksgiving preparations that the window to make egg nog came and went.

See Also: Improving Coquito, Puerto Rican Coconut Egg Nog: Just Add Chocolate

And now, it's almost holiday party time. Maybe you have one coming up this very weekend. If you're an even worse procrastinator than I am, I have the perfect solution.

If you've been to Chile around Christmastime, it's quite likely that you've had a glass or two of cola de mono, a name that translates to "monkey tail". The name is certainly a silly one. There are a few theories as to how the name came to be. The most popular involves a former president of Chile, Pedro Montt. Apparently, Montt was known as "El Mono", The Monkey, to his friends. He attended a party one night, and brought along his Colt revolver, which the host kept safe. Montt was ready to leave and asked the host to retrieve his Colt, but the host persuaded him to stay. The party then stretched into the wee hours and the wine ran out, but everyone was still in a party mood. The host made some coffee with spices, milk, and sugar, and spiked it with aguardiente, a local eau-de-vie similar to grappa. The guests loved it, and named the drink Colt de Montt, after El Presidente's beloved revolver. The name evolved over time to cola de mono, as the drink is known to this day.

And if you believe a story that convoluted, I have some Incan ruins to sell you.

Aguardiente is fairly easy to find at big box liquor stores, but it's such a niche product that I'll pass on buying it for just one drink. Light rum works fine in its place. If you happen to drink a lot of caipirinhas, I imagine that cachaça would make an even better substitute.

While reading up on cola de mono, I found it quite intriguing that almost literally every recipe out there for it calls for instant coffee. Even the most remotely discerning coffee drinker out there will likely turn up their nose at the very thought of it.

If you want to, you can use some very strong brewed coffee instead of instant. Espresso or bottled cold-brew coffee will both work great. But honestly, there's a lot of other stuff going on in this drink. I have a sneaking suspicion that the vast majority of people would have a hard time telling the difference between batches made with Stumptown cold-brew and good ol' Nescafé Clasico.

Now all you need is a Christmas confection for dipping. Americans usually reach for cookies in a case like this, but in Chile they have Pan de Pascua, a fruit-studded cake. Similar varieties of cake include the German stollen and the Italian panettone.

Cola de Mono 1 quart whole milk 1/2 cup sugar 5 cloves 1 cinnamon stick 3 tablespoons instant coffee (or 1 cup very strong coffee such as cold-brew concentrate) 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 cup aguardiente (or white rum)

Combine milk, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and orange zest in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until simmering. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 1 hour. Strain out cinnamon, cloves, and orange. Add coffee, vanilla, and aguardiente. Refrigerate until cold, preferably overnight.

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