LOWER EAST SIDE, Manhattan – After Cynthia Sepulveda’s grandmother died from cancer and diabetes, family gatherings were never the same.
“Being Puerto Rican is all about celebration and she was a huge part of the celebration that was all around her,” Sepulveda said.
Her grandmother’s coquito — a coconut rum drink originating from Puerto Rico — was something they all looked forward to, but traditions fell to the wayside for two years as the family mourned her death.
That’s when Sepulveda realized it was time to bring back those old traditions and start celebrating life again, so she made her own version of the drink without dairy by creating her own product – Flaco Coquito.
“I reduced the sugar intake and I removed the dairy so that it could be less fat and I pretty much took it back to the way my great great-grandmother made it,” Sepulveda said.
Made with natural ingredients, including coconut milk, vanilla, and cinnamon, she developed it so her mother, who was also diagnosed with diabetes and cancer, could enjoy it too.
“As soon as she tried it, she just loved it and she didn’t miss the other heavier, sugary coquito,” Sepulveda said.
Her mother passed away as well, but to keep her family legacy alive she was at the perfect place on Tuesday to honor it: Ativism — an exhibit on the Lower East Side featuring artists and vendors from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Honduras, just to name a few, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.
Sepulveda says this brand is more than just a bottle of coquito to her. Everything on the bottle — from the red drip on the cap to the logo — is a vision she says came to her from her late grandmother.
It represents her family and her ancestors and she adds her entire culture is in this bottle.