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Homemade Coconut Rum Liqueur vs. Malibu | Who Will Win?

Malibu coconut rum liqueur besides a homemade diy version made with coconut flakes, coconut oil and coconut water

Hello, Friends of Cocktails. If you checked out any tropical bar cocktail menus this summer, you probably saw Malibu Rum on there. First thing to get out of the way, it’s a liqueur, and I get why it’s popular - it’s sweet, and the combination of rum and coconut flavor make for a tropical vibe that hits the spot during a summer heat. But honestly, there’s got to be better alternatives out there, right?

Malibu is the most popular coconut rum liqueur out there, but it’s very sweet, with a strong, almost artificial coconut flavor, so I’d give it a score of 2 out of 10. Still, there are quite a few others to choose from, like Bounty Coconut and Takamaka Koko. Bounty Coconut, which is made by macerating coconut extracts and sugars with their classic white rum, then diluting the result and adding more sugar, is still not as sweet and a bit more balanced, so I’ll give it a 5 out of 10.

On the other hand, TakaMaka, made with their classic white rum from the Seychelles to which coconut extract is added, has the best balance of coconut, sugar and rum notes of our 3 options, so I’ll give it a solid 6 out of 10. But if you’ve seen Cocktail Time before, you know we’ll make an improved homemade alternative, that will allow you to bottle the taste of the tropics with nutty smoothness that coconut offers.

We’ll also take a look at 4 quick cocktail recipes, starting with a super simple mix for an Old Fashioned variation, as well as a bonus idea for a garnish with the leftovers from making the liqueur. For rum we’ll use Bounty White Rum from St Lucia, a 100% column-still rum that's been aged for two years in ex-bourbon casks, before filtering through charcoal to remove any color. It also has subtle coconut notes, but if you want to use something else, I suggest you still go for a 40% ABV white rum to keep the recipe consistent.

In general, liqueurs must contain at least 100g of sugar per liter, with Malibu having 181g per liter, according to their website. I prefer my liqueurs not to be too sweet, so it’s easier to balance them in the cocktail, so I kept that in mind when I made this homemade coconut rum liqueur, which you can make two different ways - sous vide, which gives you full control over temperature and time, and by popular demand, the classic infusion in a jar. If you are as excited as me, let’s go, it’s Cocktail Time!

Man pouring homemade Malibu rum coconut liqueur to make a cocktail

DIY Coconut Rum Liqueur

● 600mL (20oz) Bounty White Rum

● 200g Virgin Coconut Oil

● 40g Toasted Coconut Flakes

● 240mL (8oz) Coconut Water

● 112g White Sugar

For both procedures I’ll start with heating up the coconut oil and adding the flakes to quickly fry them to add even more nutty and toasted coconut notes, enhancing the aroma and flavor of the liqueur. Keep stirring the flakes and wait until they start getting a little color, then take it off the heat and let it cool down before adding the rum to chill completely - make sure you get the virgin coconut oil, which has a tropical coconut aroma and flavor, unlike refined coconut oil, which has a neutral scent and flavor.

Here is where the two methods deviate. For the sous vide we need to put this in the sous vide bag, double seal it, and place it in the sous vide bath set at 80°C or 175°F for 2 hours. This method, which I prefer, gives you more precise contro over the final product, just remember to mix the contents at least 4 times throughout. If you’re going with the classic infusion method you’ll do everything the same, just pour the cooled mixture into a jar, seal it and let this sit for the same amount as the sous vide, mixing the contents every 20 to 30 minutes.

After two hours, put the infusions in the freezer for the coconut oil to solidify, which should take about 2 hours depending on your freezer. Once solid strain the rum through a coffee filter, and don’t throw away the spent oil, we’ll need that for later. It’s best to let this filter through in the fridge, because the warm room temperature might liquefy the oil, which might then pass through the filter, and the flakes soaked up some of our coconut-infused rum, so make sure to squeeze them well to extract as much liquid as possible.

You should end up with approximately 500 mL of coconut-flavored rum, which we’ll turn into a liqueur by adding dilution and sugar. For every 100 mL of our coconut rum you’ll need to add 22.4g of sugar and 48mL of coconut water, but if you don’t want to do math, you can also find the Liqueurs Calculator here. Make sure you get pure, 100% coconut water, without any sugars added, and with this exact mixture you’ll get a rum liqueur with 25% alcohol content and 150 g of sugar per liter of liqueur.

Time to bottle it up, add a label, and you have your very own “DIY, but better Malibu”! For the best experience taste-wise, consume it within one year, but it will still be good after that. Now, a quick taste test before I make 4 coconut rum liqueur cocktails, cheers! Our homemade coconut liqueur has a nutty and tropical aroma. The authentic coconut flavor is immediately apparent and lingers on the palate, with a slightly toasted and smooth taste.

Once you make this, you won't go back to the others. I’ll give it a confident 9/10, but I can’t wait to hear your opinion on it, if you try to make it as well. So now for the 4 simple recipes using this coconut rum liqueur, starting with the simple DIY Malibu Cola, because let’s admit it, Cola and coconut work together really well.

DIY Malibu Cola

● 60mL (2oz) DIY Coconut Rum Liqueur

● 120mL (4oz) Coca-Cola

● Lime Wedge

Into a chilled glass the DIY Coconut Liqueur right over a clear ice spear and top it up with Coke. Store bought is fine, because we’re keeping this simple, but homemade Kevin Kola would make this a little extra special. Add a lime wedge for garnish, squeeze the lime juice in and enjoy! Cheers, then we’re on to the second cocktail. This will be a super simple mix of equal parts gold rum, coconut rum liqueur and fresh pineapple juice based on Koko Kanu, a higher proof coconut rum liqueur from Jamaica.

Koko Kolada

● 45mL (1.5oz) Gold Rum

● 45mL (1.5oz) DIY Coconut Rum Liqueur

● 45mL (1.5oz) Pineapple Juice

● 2 drops Saline Solution

● Grated Nutmeg

Into a chilled shaker add all but the nutmeg, and shake well to froth up the pineapple juice, giving us a nice little crown on the cocktail. Now double strain into a chilled highball glass and grate a little nutmeg on top. Super simple with equal parts, and delicious with the topical flavors of rum, coconut and pineapple. What can beat that? I’m guessing a Coconut Daiquiri might give it a run for its money, so let’s make that.

Coconut Daiquiri

● 45mL (1.5oz) Aged White Rum

● 30mL (1oz) DIY Coconut Rum Liqueur

● 22.5mL (0.75oz) Lime Super Juice

● 7.5mL (0.25oz) Toasted Coconut Syrup

● 2 drops Saline Solution

I’m starting with Diplomatico Planas rum into a shaker, which already has subtle coconut notes, making it a great base for this drink. Follow that with the DIY Malibu, Lime Super Juice, Saline Solution and the Toasted Coconut Syrup by Liber&Co. The toasted notes of this syrup will pair nicely with our liqueur, and the gum arabic will add a wonderful texture. If you’ve made the liqueur and super juice, you can take the easy route and just go for this delicious syrup.

Vigorously shake all ingredients together and double strain into a chilled coupe glass, if you don’t want any small bits of ice in the drink. If you love coconut and you’re a fan of the Daiquiri, this is a home-run. But lastly, for a nightcap if you will, let’s make a Painkiller Old Fashioned No.2. The original recipe was created by Sam Patel of Coventry Cocktails, where he used the combination of pineapple and coconut rums, in equal parts, then added pineapple syrup and orange bitters.

Painkiller Old Fashioned No.2

● 45mL (1.5oz) Pineapple Rum

● 30mL (1oz) DIY Coconut Rum Liqueur

● 4 dashes Orange Bitters

● 2 drops Saline Solution

● Grated Nutmeg & Coconut Oil Ice Cube

Begin by chilling your mixing glass, then add the DIY Malibu, Orange Bitters, Saline Solution and Pineapple Rum - I went for Plantation Pineapple rum. Now stir with plenty of ice to chill and dilute, then pour over a large ice block with solidified coconut oil in a chilled glass. We’ll get to the ice block in a minute, but for now grate nutmeg on top of the cocktail, just like in the original recipe, and enjoy this distinctly tropical version of the Rum Old Fashioned. Cheers!

You now have the 4 easy and delicious recipes to show off the homemade Coconut Rum Liqueur. If you enjoy seeing these DIY ingredient videos, a big part of why we can make them is because of the support from our Patrons, and we have a new member that decided to join our Wall of Fame and claim a brick on the Cocktail Time set, Per Almén! Thank you for being amazing Friends of Cocktails. With that, you’ve made it to the bottom of the glass, congrats.

Today I’ll show you how I made the coconut cube garnish, which is a nice way of using the same ingredient for multiple things in a cocktail. Here I did that with the leftover coconut oil. You can gently heat up that coconut oil, bottle it up, and later use it for making pancakes, or get creative with other recipes. This time I used it as a decorative element on the large ice block.

To do that simply heat the oil until it melts and then push a large ice cube into it, so the oil sticks to its surface. Wait for it to solidify and repeat the process to make several layers, pushing about half a centimeter each time. This oil will then release a lovely coconut aroma in the cocktail. So that’s it for today, if you want to see how to make another famous liqueur check out the DIY St. Germain video here. I’ll see you soon, cheers!


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