Spiked Hot Chocolate Is the Best Way to Survive Winter

Your childhood favorite is all grown up

January 15, 2021 6:00 am
Hornitos hot chocolate
Garnishes, type of chocolate and spirit selection all go into making a boozy hot chocolate
Copyright 2021 Matthew Cooley

So far this winter (still over two months to go!) we’ve gone through multiple variations of Irish coffees and hot toddies

Those serve their purpose. But for something a little more decadent, we wanted to switch gears and try something sweeter and even more comforting.

Enter: Spiked hot chocolate.

There are multitudes of ways you can work with this delicious combo, from types of chocolate to your choice of spirit — below, we’re using tequila, bourbon and brandy, among other tipples. It can be a decidedly simple recipe, with as few as 2-4 ingredients, or something more complex and time consuming (and worth it).

Remember, the chocolate part is just as important as everything else. “I think the creamier the hot chocolate the better,” says Amy Probasco, Cocktail Consultant for Hornitos Tequila. “Texture is everything! So using actual chocolate — or even just milk or a milk substitute instead of water with your favorite mix — will really help with the overall richness of the drink.”

Probasco also suggests adding warming spices like cinnamon and chili powder, or playing around with mint, because we all know how well those ingredients go with chocolate. And don’t forget the garnish. “I like fairly decadent hot chocolate garnishes, so I use whipped cream and marshmallows in mine,” she says. “ I’ve even made flavored whipped creams – a cinnamon or orange whipped cream would be really fantastic.”

Below, a few boozy hot chocolate recipes:

Hornitos Hot Chocolate
Copyright 2021 Matthew Cooley

Tequila Hot Chocolate
Amy Probasco, Cocktail Consultant for Hornitos Tequila

“Like chocolate, tequila can have a range of flavors, depending on the region and distillation or aging, which makes pairing them together really fun,” says Probasco. “Aged tequila, such as Hornitos Reposado, often also has underlying spice notes like cinnamon and vanilla, and is my go-to for tequila and hot chocolate.”

1.5 oz. Hornitos Reposado Tequila
2 pinches cayenne chili powder
1 pinch grated cinnamon
6.5 oz. hot chocolate* (use your favorite brand or recipe below)

*Hot chocolate: 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips : 1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk : 4 ½ cups milk. In a pot over medium heat, melt chocolate. Add sweetened condensed milk and stir until smooth. Slowly whisk in milk. Simmer, but don’t boil. Can store refrigerated for up to two weeks. 

Make hot chocolate according to directions. If using a mix, we recommended using milk or milk substitute instead of water. Fill your mug up to the top with hot water and allow to temper for 45 seconds. Dump hot water and refill with hot chocolate. Add rest of ingredients and stir to fully combine. Garnish with whipped cream, grated cinnamon and marshmallows.

Haute Chocolate drink recipe
Courtesy of The Chester

Haute Chocolate 
Nicole Ross/Ian Campbell of The Chester (NYC) 

0.5 oz Hennessy
1 oz crème de cocoa 
1 oz crème de menthe 
3 oz steamed milk 
3 tbsp hot chocolate mix

Steam milk, mix in chocolate mix, stir in Hennessy, crème de cocoa and crème de menthe. Top with Bailey’s infused cream, crushed peppermints and mint sprig.

Catskills Campfire Cocoa
Do Good Spirits

Catskills Campfire Cocoa
Brian Facquet, Founder of Do Good Spirits

This one is dead simple: Heat water or milk with your favorite hot cocoa and add 2 ounces of bourbon cream. Top off with toasted marshmallows, graham cracker crumble and chocolate syrup.

Grown up hot chocolate
Courtesy of Vestry

Grown Up Hot Chocolate
Gabriel Figueroa, Assistant Restaurant Director at Vestry (NYC)

And this one will take some time, but it’s worth it … and it’s only alcoholic at the end, so you can totally use this for virgin drinks. “This hot chocolate is more than just one note,” says Figueroa. “There’s a balance of sweetness, spices, creaminess and savory notes here that can be enjoyed for all ages. For grown ups, add in the mezcal for a nice smokey campfire quality.”

1k 70% chocolate
5g cinnamon powder
2g nutmeg powder
5g kosher salt
30g chocolate bark (Valrhona)
90g half-and-half
100g glucose

In a heat-proof bowl, measure out chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and glucose (if you don’t have glucose at home, use corn syrup). Double bowl chocolate mixture, which means using a sauce pot filled with water maybe a quarter of the way, then place your metal chocolate bowl on top. Over medium to medium-low heat, melt the chocolate on top and mix all the ingredients together until thoroughly combined.  

Once combined, pour chocolate bark onto a cookie tray and spread as thin as possible. This will make it much easier to portion once the chocolate sets. Let the chocolate cool to room temperature then chill in the fridge until hard. Once chilled, portion the chocolate bark to 30g or if you don’t have a scale then try 1/4 cup.

When you’re in the mood for hot chocolate measure out 90g of Half & Half (or 3/4 cup) and steam or simmer on a stove. Then measure out 1oz of mezcal into your favorite mug.  Once the half & half is steamed/simmered, add the chocolate bark, let it hang out for a few minutes, then swirl until you have chocolate milk. Bring to a steam/simmer once more before serving then pour into your mug with the mezcal.

Story Time hot chocolate recipe
Old Hickory Whiskey Bar

Story Time
Kelly Blackwell, bar manager at the Old Hickory Whiskey Bar (Pensacola, FL)

“Chocolate meets bourbon meets spice, this is sweet, creamy and delicious with a bit of kick,” says Blackwell. “It’s a spirit-forward after-dinner drink, reminiscent of a Mexican coffee.” 

1.5 oz Town Branch Bourbon
0.5 oz Bluegrass Sundown Coffee Liqueur
1 oz simple syrup
2 small barspoons sipping chocolate
2 oz hot water
3 drops mole bitters
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Stir all ingredients with the hot water and top with a bruleed marshmallow. Serve with graham crackers and chocolate on the side for an adult version of the classic s’more.


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