Summer Recipe: Vieques “Bilí”

Summer is the time to drink the official alcoholic beverage of Vieques: bilí. The island celebrates the Bilí Festival in July. Bilí is made of a local fruit—quenepa—mixed with white rum, cinnamon and sugar. The quenepa, Melicoccus bijugatus, is also called Spanish lime, genip, guinep, genipe, chenette, or mamoncillo, among other variations.

The recipe below was published by El Nuevo Día (18 August 2004). The recipe below was provided by Chef Eva Bolívar of Bilí Restaurant at Playa Esperanza in Vieques, Puerto Rico.


8 cups of white rum
2 1/2 lbs. of quenepas
1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
1/2 tsp. of vanilla
1 stick of cinnamon


Cut the quenepas open and mix with sugar and vanilla. Continue combining until the sugar dissolves. Add the rum slowly and keep mixing until you have used all of it. Taste for sweetness, and if needed, add a little more sugar. Add the cinnamon stick and put it in a bottle; cover tightly.

[Many thanks to Mary Ann Gosser Esquilín for reminding me of the delicious Vieques bilí.]

Photo of quenepas from

Recipe from

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