Cola de Mono: Chile’s True Christmas Spirit!

By Margaret Snook, December 22, 2008

It just wouldn’t be Christmas in Chile without a nice cold glass of Cola de Mono and some Pan de Pascua Christmas bread.

Chilean Christmas comes in the height of summer, with searing heat (90º and up is the norm), so nobody’s thinking about eggnog by the fireplace or spending the day baking cookies, but one Christmas treat that can’t be beat is “Cola de Mono” (Monkey’s Tail), served as cold as possible with the ubiquitous Pan de Pascua (Christmas bread). This milk-based punch is lighter than egg nog and easily made at home (don’t waste your time or money on the far inferior store-bought version!).  Use the recipe below to make up a batch of your own, and check out Cachando Chile for an explanation of its history while you wait for it to chill. There are no great scientific principles at work here; all measurements are to taste.

Step 1- a liter of milk

Step 1- a liter of milk

Start with a liter of milk.  Yes, Chilean milk comes in boxes with a shelflife of about 6 months! (but that’s another story).

Add about 1/4 cup sugar (more or less, depending on your sweet tooth).

Add a cinnamon stick, 3 or 4 whole cloves, some fresh-grated  nutmeg (about 1/4 tsp), a vanilla bean or a couple tsps vanilla extract, fresh lemon or orange peel, and 2-3 tbls ground coffee.

(Yes, I know that most Chilean recipes call for instant Nescafé powder, but have you heard the old expression “Nescafé no es café” ?? Right… use the real stuff).

Cola de Mono Step 2- add the flavorings

Cola de Mono Step 2- add the flavorings

Yes, it looks like a mess at this point!

Bring it to a simmer over gentle heat. Don’t let it boil. You don’t want the milk to scald. Be patient, and stir often.

Once it approaches a boil, turn off the heat, stir well, cover, and let it steep and cool. It should be a nice café con leche color.

Cola de Mono step 3- let it cool

Cola de Mono step 3- let it cool

Drain it carefully and add aguardiente to taste. Don’t use pisco. I’ve tried it; it was dreadful. Rum would work if you don’t have aguardiente brandy. Use at least a cup, more if you like. The alcohol will be less noticeable when cold.

Cola de Mono with Pan de Pascua

Cola de Mono with Pan de Pascua

Voila! Christmas a la Chilena!

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10 Comments

Filed under Drinks

10 responses to “Cola de Mono: Chile’s True Christmas Spirit!

  1. Pingback: Cola de Mono: Traditional Christmas drink « Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture

  2. THANK YOU!!! I appreciate this recipe and your comments. Happy Hollydays 2009, from Miami VIVA CHILE

  3. Pingback: Cachando Chile: a Year in Review « Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture

  4. lalo

    En el caso que no tenga aguardiente para hacer el Cola de mono puede hacer un mono artificial usando vodka ya sea rusa (Moskovkaya) o polaca (Wivoroba) queda estupendo, mejor que el Ron, aqui en Canada lo hacemos hace varios años, he probado con varios alcoholes y el gusto que mas se semeja al nuestro es con Vodka

    Salud y feliz año

  5. Terri

    This is a wonderful version. I’ve made many batches using a recipe in a Moosewood Cookbook that has a section on Chilean recipes. It uses tequila. I am not familiar with aguardiente or pisco. What is pisco? Happy Holidays!

    • Hi Terri- Great to know that Moosewood has a version of Cola de Mono- but it should NOT use tequila!! Vodka would be a better substitute. Pisco is a distilled grape spirit (and therefore a brandy) made in Peru and in certain northern regions of Chile. Made anywhere else in Chile it is called aguardiente.

  6. martin

    ¿la cascara de limón es solo para el aroma ,o también para cuajar un poco la leche? gracias

    • ¿Cáscara de limón para cuajar la leche? ¡Me pillaste! Es decir, no sabía que tenía esa función, pero en todo caso, diría que sería para aroma y sabor nomás…

  7. Pingback: Cultural Tidbit: Cola de Mono | ECELA Spanish Schools Blog

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