Cola de mono, which directly translates as ‘monkey’s tail,’ is Chile’s customary Christmas drink. It mainly consists of milk, sugar, coffee, cloves and a generous splash of the potent South American liquor, aguardiente. The origin of the name is unclear, but one of the most widely told tales revolves around President Pedro Montt, who served as the Chilean head of state in the early 1900s. President Montt, for reasons we’ll leave you to ponder, was nicknamed ‘Monkey Montt’. The story goes that one evening Montt was set to leave a roaring party, but found that he’d misplaced his prized Colt revolver. His fellow party guests urged the politician to stay until the weapon was found, he did, and the festivities continued in such a fashion that eventually, all the wine was finished. Reluctant to end the evening, the thirsty guests experimented with the remaining items in the pantry; a pitcher of cold, sweet coffee, some baking spices and a bottle of aguardiente. The heady, milky mixture was created and earned the title ‘Colt de Montt’ as an ode to the missing gun. The blend soon charmed the country’s many drinkers and its name later morphed into what it is today, cola de mono. A fitting title, as a few servings of the treat may have you swinging from the rafters.
SERVES 12 // COOKING TIME 15 min, plus chilling time
6 cups full-cream milk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cinnamon sticks, plus ground cinnamon to garnish
¼ cup instant coffee
2 cups aguardiente, rum or vodka
1. Place the milk, sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon sticks in a pot and bring to a boil.
2. Add the coffee to the hot milk mixture and allow to dissolve.
3. Place in the fridge to cool.
4. Once cold, add the alcohol.
5. Return to the fridge to chill for 4 hours.
6. Serve in aperitif glasses, over crushed ice and garnish with a dash of cinnamon.