Boozy Hot Chocolate

Warm up with these decadent (and thoroughly adult) spins on classic hot cocoa that call for a variety of spirits.

Forecast call for snow? Temperatures barely above freezing? An arctic wind blowing in? That’s great news! We can’t wait!

No, we haven’t lost our minds or moved to Honolulu. Cold conditions are the perfect excuse to fix a steaming cup of hot chocolate that’s been spiked with some of your favorite spirits. While you could just add a jigger of rum or bourbon to your standard recipe, we asked a few top bartenders from frigid locales to share with us the secrets to their special boozy cocoas.

Canadian Lauren Mote is no stranger to chilly weather. And the Uva Wine Bar manager and co-founder of the Bittered Sling line of bitters has invented a sophisticated hot-and-chocolaty drink, the Whistler. Named for the ski area near Mote’s home of Vancouver (which hosted several events of the 2010 Winter Olympics), this mix of cognac, crème de cacao and Green Chartreuse with steamed milk will warm the heart of any cocktail lover.

When snow starts to fall in Denver, all-star barman Sean Kenyon looks south of the border for inspiration. His Café Quetzalcoatl combines mezcal, a fiery homemade chile tincture and spiced Mexican hot chocolate with coffee—it’s just the thing to chase away a chill.

But on the other hand, not every adult hot chocolate recipe has to be, well, hot. The Chocomole (pictured above) is a cocoa-and-tequila shot that’s served chilled—but it gets its heat from spices including cumin, cinnamon, guajillo peppers and a chile-powder rim. Talented cocktail-consultant duo the Tipping Bros. created this intriguing concoction for the Mercadito restaurant group, which has locations in New York, Chicago and Miami.

So next time there’s a cold snap, whip up one of these tasty cocktails and thank your lucky stars it’s winter.

Whistler

Contributed by Lauren Mote
INGREDIENTS:

  • Milk
  • .5 oz White crème de cacao
  • .5 oz Cognac
  • .5 oz Green Chartreuse
  • 2 dashes Bittered Sling Malagasy Chocolate Bitters
  • Garnish: Cinnamon
  • Glass: Old Fashioned

PREPARATION:
Using the steamer attachment of an espresso machine, steam about a cup of milk until hot. Aerate until slightly foamy and set aside. (You can also heat the milk in the microwave or on the stove and whisk until foamy.) Add the remaining ingredients to a 6-ounce Old Fashioned glass and fill with the prepared milk. Garnish with freshly grated cinnamon and serve with a tea spoon atop a napkin-lined saucer.

Café Quetzalcoatl

Contributed by Sean Kenyon
INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 oz Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal
  • .75 oz Turbinado syrup (one part turbinado sugar, one part water)
  • 12 drops Chile de Árbol Tincture* or 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 3 oz Strong brewed coffee, hot
  • 3 oz Mexican hot chocolate, hot (use your favorite recipe or packaged mix)
  • Glass: Irish Coffee
  • Garnish: Xocolatl Bittered Whipped Cream**

PREPARATION:
Add all the ingredients to an Irish Coffee glass and stir to combine. Top with a dollop of Xocolatl Bittered Whipped Cream.

*To make Chile de Árbol Tincture, fill a 16-ounce jar with dried chiles de árbol and fill with high-proof grain alcohol, such as Everclear. Let stand for six days, agitating once per day. Strain into a dropper bottle.

**To make Xocolatl Bittered Whipped Cream, combine 8 ounces of heavy cream and 20 dashes of The Bitter Trutch Xocolatl Mole Bitters, and whip until stiff peaks form. Store in the refrigerator.