Christmas is always an opportunity to bake Christmas cakes from around the world such as kurabiedes, torta negra or chocolate yule log. If you are looking for other Christmas inspirations, I highly recommend you this Chilean cocktail called cola de mono or colemono.
Cola de mono is the essential drink in Chile to await the arrival of Viejito Pascuero aka Santa Claus and celebrate the New Year. It is often offered with another Chilean Christmas emblematic recipe, the pan de pascua, a spiced cake with dried fruits and nuts.
Christmas in Chile
Christmas is an important holiday in Chile as in all of Latin America, with a Catholic majority, and whether they are practicing or not, Chileans are very attached to Christmas traditions.
Only Christmas does not rhyme with snowman, furry hats and mulled wine in these latitudes. The country is located in the southern hemisphere, so it is summer for them during the holiday season. They needed a refreshing and sweet drink, easy to drink but reminiscent of the aromas of the season’s spices.
What is cola de mono?
Cola de mono is therefore prepared with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and vanilla, milk, coffee, sugar and a brandy. It is of course quite possible to prepare a non-alcoholic version by omitting this last ingredient.
This drink is so popular in Chile that it is also sold inn ready to drink bottles. It can also be prepared at home and each family garnishes theirs according to their taste.
What are the variants of cola de mono?
Cola de mono is actually a mix between an eggnog and a white Russian.
The texture of the cola de mono is actually reminiscent of eggnog, a drink that was born in Europe and became a Christmas staple in North America. It does not contain coffee but milk, cream, sugar, egg yolk and is flavored with nutmeg and cinnamon.
The combination of coffee and milk necessarily makes one think of the white Russian, consisting of vodka, coffee liquor and cream or milk. However, the white Russian is not a drink typical of the holiday season.
The list of milk-based cocktails similar to cola de mono is actually quite long but here are a few examples:
– Mexican rompope
– Venezuelan ponche crema
– Coquito, the Puerto Rican version of eggnog in which the coconut replaces the coffee
– Bombardino, an Italian cocktail served in the mountainous regions and particularly in the ski resorts to warm up since the beverage is hot and contains a good serving of alcohol.
What is the origin of cola de mono?
Cola de mono literally translates as “monkey tail” in Spanish. Some say that after drinking this well-balanced alcoholic cocktail, you’ll swing like a monkey from branch to branch.
The origin of this name is actually not obvious, and there are several theories on the subject.
One of them refers to the bottles originally used to contain homemade cola de mono. These are bottles of anise del mono, an aniseed drink made near Barcelona and marketed widely in a number of countries. It is very popular in the Americas. The bottle has a characteristic shape and a label depicting a monkey with a clearly visible tail.
Other versions refer to Pedro Montt, President of Chile from 1906 to 1910, who would have been nicknamed el mono by his relatives.
Some people claim that it was with this cocktail that Germán Riesco, winner of the Chilean presidential elections in 1901, would have celebrated his victory and thus the defeat of his opponent (cola), Pedro Montt, hence the name of cola de mono.
Finally, another story relates that at an evening party, Montt, at the time of leaving, would have asked to get his his revolver (a colt) back, but the guests would have convinced him to stay longer. As there was no more wine, they would have mixed brandy with coffee, milk and sugar, and would have named it after Montt’s colt. One can imagine the popular transformation in colemono then cola de mono.
We might never know the true story but that should not prevent us from drinking cola de mono and spending great holidays.
- 4 cups milk
- 1¼ cup pisco (or other brandy)
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 3 cloves
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons instant coffee
- 2 egg yolks
- ⅓ cup caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
In a non-stick pan, pour the milk. Add the cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon stick.
Heat over medium-high heat, watching closely so the milk does not overflow.
When the milk is a little hot, take a little to dissolve the coffee in a small bowl.
Pour the dissolved coffee into the pan and mix.
Continue heating the milk, stirring occasionally.
In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar for one minute.
Once the milk is boiling, reduce the heat to low, take a ladle of milk and add it to the sugared eggs, whisking constantly.
Add 3 tablespoons of milk gradually, while continuing to whisk.
Pour everything into the saucepan of boiling milk and continue to heat and stir until thickened.
Increase the heat to an average temperature and cook 3 more minutes without stirring.
Cool and add the vanilla and pisco. Mix well.
Taste and adjust the sugar and/or liquor to taste.
Bottle and refrigerate for 3 hours before consuming.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.