The best hot chocolate I’ve had came in the dead of winter after a long and cold walk home. I can still remember the battered yellow and blue tin of Nestle Quick that could be found sitting in the back of the cupboard along with all the other high-value treats my siblings and I attempted to hide from each other. Alas, soon enough it was discovered and dug out, with yet another pair of little hands trying to pry off the top. Usually, a spoon or pliers were taken to the tin to wrestle off the top. The mysterious chocolatey mixture brings great memories to mind.
Hot chocolate is still a favorite of mine, although now, my preferences lean toward real chocolate and I like to spike it with the good stuff from time to time. Here’s some of the best alcohol for hot chocolate.
Popular Hot Chocolate Concoctions
As a part-time bartender, I’m busy slinging drinks during the holidays. I can tell you that a lot of people like spiked hot chocolate this time of year. It’s a festive mood-enhancer and body-warmer. We see a lot of people posing in front of the Christmas trees with a cup of spiked hot chocolate in hand; it’s a festive treat.
Our most popular combinations are hot chocolate with Baileys, Amaretto, and Jack Fire. Many love the creamy goodness of Baileys Irish Cream in their hot chocolate. A lot of the guys prefer adding a little Jack Fire to their cup of the hot stuff. For those that like the Jack Daniels brand, plus the cinnamon-y sensation, Jack Fire is a winner-winner. Other people prefer to kick up their hot chocolate with the zingy taste of Fireball. The taste of Jack Fire and Fireball are very similar and I don’t know if I could tell the difference in a blind taste test. I’ve drank plenty of both while trying to keep warm during football games, which are now somewhat of a spiked hot chocolate blur.
A lot of ladies that come up to the bar like Amaretto as a boozy hot chocolate add-in. The Amaretto hot chocolate combo is a little unique and may be an acquired taste, but it works for them. We add a splash of grenadine which kicks up the flavor another notch and makes for a pretty and delicious combination.
If you make a poll about the best alcohol for hot chocolate, you’ll get as many different answers as there are alcohol varieties. Yes, the different ways to spike hot chocolate are almost limitless. Your imagination is your only limit when it comes to making the perfect boozy hot chocolate. Here are more ideas for great hot chocolate and booze combinations to get you started.
Best Alcohol For Hot Chocolate
Grab your mug and put on some fuzzy slippers. You’ll feel super cozy with a cup of hot chocolate with any of these boozy mix-ins: peppermint schnapps, mint schnapps, vanilla schnapps, butterscotch schnapps, Frangelico, Kahlua, Rumchata, peanut butter whiskey, Triple Sec, Godiva chocolate liqueur, Fireball, brandy, Grand Marnier, Rumplemintz, orange liqueur, Jamison, Jack Daniels Honey, vanilla vodka, plain vodka, and even wine. It seems that many people are fond of red wine hot chocolate made in a crock pot.
In addition to spiking your hot chocolate, try adding Chambord or Baileys to cream for an excellent, boozy whipped cream. Or add Grand Marnier and top it with whipped cream and orange zest, really bringing out the orange flavor. For a luscious Mexican hot chocolate, add tequila or dark rum to your traditional recipe. If you’re going with peppermint as the alcohol for your hot chocolate, make it extra festive with a peppermint stick for stirring.
Hot Chocolate In The U.S.
The coolest place in Vegas to try boozy hot chocolate may be the Ice Bar. With an interior made of ice, ice sculptures with neon lighting, and everyone dressed in their warm winter wear, the Ice Bar is a hot spot to try a festive and boozy hot chocolate drink. The menu includes hot chocolate spiked with Baileys or Kahlua topped with crushed peppermint and fluffy marshmallows. This over-the-top winter wonderland experience is not to be missed!
If you’re looking for a winter experience in the desert of Las Vegas, the Ski Lodge and Superfrico at The Cosmopolitan won’t disappoint. Ready to find a hidden spot on the slopes of Las Vegas? Maybe not exactly on the slopes, but if you can find this elusive spot within The Cosmopolitan, you’ll be rewarded with a mind-blowing hideaway that’s a winter wonderland of delight and cocktails. Enjoy the “Skinog” with Ketel One or the “Shotski” with Baileys Chocolate.
The Alibi Ultra Lounge at Aria has a festive menu of cocktails including the chocolatey Holiday Spark, which marries whiskey with Baileys and the ultimate whipped cream topping.
Hot drinks and skiing go hand in hand. What better way to warm up after hitting the slopes all day? Robbie’s Tavern, which sits directly on the ski slopes, offers hot cocktails that radiate warmth. Try the Fireside: hot chocolate with Fireball topped with whipped cream and crushed peppermints. Another good choice is the Peppermint Patty, which consists of hot chocolate spiked with peppermint schnapps and topped with whipped cream and crushed peppermints.
Blue Stag Saloon is another Breckenridge favorite and here you can have your spiked hot chocolate fireside at the indoor or outdoor fireplace. Try the Chili de Coco with Breckenridge chili vodka, Kahlua, and hot chocolate.
New York City
Get yourself to the speakeasy-themed restaurant and bar below the Andaz Hotel and try The Fellow, inspired by Mexican hot chocolate. This drink at The Bar Downstairs includes tequila or mezcal, chile liqueur, house-made cocoa mix, and oat milk.
Visit Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar and try their version of spiked hot chocolate in NYC, which includes homemade hot chocolate, Frangelico, and Hennessy. You’ll enjoy the New York City cocktail scene in the gorgeous outdoor-enclosed heated garden.
With its freezing cold winters, Omahans know a thing or two about how to stay warm in the long winter months. Of course, spiked hot chocolate is on a lot of people’s radar during the holiday season as the perfect way to stay warm while being out with friends. There are more than a few places to enjoy the perfect boozy-infused alcohol concoction around town.
At the top of the list is one of my favorite bars in one of my favorite areas of town, Mr. Toads in the Old Market. This market mainstay has been around for a long time — since the 1970s — and it’s better than ever. Sneak in for Sunday night Jazz and sip on a delish hot chocolate drink. Try the Peppermint Patty, which is peppermint schnapps and dark creme de cacao in hot chocolate. Another favorite is the Hot Mudslide — a Kapali, vodka, Irish creme, and hot chocolate concoction. Rick’s Choco Razz will really warm you up with its mixture of Chateau Monet, Mozart dark chocolate, coffee, and hot chocolate.
Further west on 16th Street, you’ll find a wide array of creative holiday-inspired cocktails including interesting hot chocolate mixtures at the mid-century-inspired hangout spot, Mercury. The Yukon Cornelius includes yummy homemade hot chocolate, bourbon, and a marshmallow topping. Although they aren’t spiked hot chocolate drinks, I want to try the Papa Noel and the Bring Us Some Figgy Fudding based on the names alone!
The Holiday Hut at the Kimpton is another fun spot in town to enjoy steaming spiked hot chocolate in a festive holiday atmosphere. The hut is a pop-up holiday bar that promises an over-the-top experience with seasonal cocktails amid festive décor. Head to the Kimpton for the best holiday photos, too!
The Naughty Or Nice Pop-Up Bar at The Venues at the Granary in Ralson is yet another way to enjoy the holiday with good cheer. With a full holiday cocktail menu including the ever-popular alcohol-infused hot chocolate, a Christmas tree lot with real snow, and even a hot chocolate food truck, how can you not get into the holiday spirit here?
Hot Chocolate Around The World
Believe it or not, some people don’t enjoy boozy hot chocolate but prefer it to be straight up. For those folks, we found out how people in countries around the world enjoy their hot chocolate.
Spanish hot chocolate has a pudding-like consistency and is made with whole milk, bittersweet dark chocolate, and sugar. “Chocolate Caliente,” as it’s known in Spain, is best when paired with warm churros.
Belgian chocolate is the secret ingredient in Belgian hot chocolate. Whole milk or even half-and-half is warmed, then dark and milk chocolates are stirred in until melted. Add a pinch of cinnamon topped with whipped cream and get ready for rich, luscious goodness in a mug.
The French like their hot chocolate with a heavy chocolate flavor and I’m with them. If it’s not super chocolatey, why bother? For the ultimate chocolate taste, use chocolate that contains cacao of at least 70 percent to make real chocolat chaud. Combine with whole milk, real cream, and real vanilla for a French-inspired treat.
In Italy, thick and creamy hot chocolate is the rule. Cioccolata calda, as it’s known in Italy, is made with milk, dark chocolate, and sugar. Cornstarch is the secret ingredient to make this concoction even thicker. This is a rich and sinful treat.
Tasty Mexican hot chocolate is similar to other hot chocolate but has a sweet and spicy kick. The chocolate flavor is less intense and the Mexican variety usually contains cinnamon and chili powder or cayenne pepper.
History Of Chocolate And Hot Chocolate
So where did these delectable drinks begin? The history of choc goes back almost 3,000 years. We can thank the Mayans, and later the Aztecs, who came up with drinking chocolate made from the beans of the cacao tree. We also must thank the Spanish conquistadors who brought the drink to Europe in the mid-1500s, along with the recipe for drinking chocolate.
How Is Hot Chocolate Made?
Of course, you have to start with good cacao beans to make good chocolate and hot chocolate. The really good chocolate is made simply with better ingredients, by people who spend a lot of time trying to get the process just right.
The entire chocolate-making process is complicated, and like wine-making, is a mixture of art and science. Thank goodness we have masterful people in our world who thrive on creating this delicious treat.
The chocolate-making process starts with the cacao tree. The cacao tree first appeared in the Amazon basin and grows in a limited geographical zone. You’ll only find it in locations about 20 degrees to the north and south of the equator. Much of the cacao beans in the world come from Central and South America.
Farmers harvest the beans, carefully removing the pods from the tree and opening them. Inside each pod are about 30 cocoa beans or seeds. Raw beans don’t taste like chocolate and have to be developed during processing. Cocoa beans are fermented, sometimes under banana or plantain leaves, and dried. After this, the beans are shipped to other countries for bean-to-bar companies to make into chocolate.
Chocolate-making has changed in the last 10 years. Artisanal chocolate makers have come on the scene and changed the way a lot of chocolate is produced. What was once a solely industrialized process has now evolved into a more single-origin and bean-to-bar-focused production.
As consumers have begun to demand less sugary chocolates, the bean-to-bar chocolate movement has come into center stage. Bean-to-bar chocolate is usually scratch-made by a single person or a small group of people. The makers work directly with their small group of suppliers so they know where their ingredients come from.
The artisanal producer usually oversees everything from sourcing the whole cacao beans, then roasting, sorting, and winnowing the product in a single facility. Unlike most of the chocolate we eat today — a sugary mixture of mass-produced chocolate from low-quality cacao beans — the good chocolate is made by artisans. This chocolate is added to real milk and hot chocolate is born!
Turning Beans Into Chocolate: A Four-Step Process
The process of turning cocoa beans into chocolate doesn’t happen quickly. The four-step process takes time and expertise. Processing the beans includes:
- Cracking, sorting, and winnowing
- Grinding and refining
Cacao Vs. Cocoa: What’s The Difference?
You may be confused by some of the terms associated with chocolate as I was. As far as the bean-to-bar community of experts — now over 200 — cacao generally means the pod and the beans until they’ve been roasted. Cocoa refers to the product post-roasting.
Drinking Chocolate Vs. Hot Cocoa
People also tend to be confused by the term “drinking chocolate.” Drinking chocolate is a thick, rich drink made of melted chocolate, sugar, water, milk, or cream. Hot cocoa, on the other hand, is an alkalized cocoa powder mixed with hot milk or water.
Health Benefits Of Chocolate
Chocolate has more antioxidants than both red wine and green tea — even more so when it’s heated. Antioxidants are abundant in dark chocolate made from cacao. These flavonoids have many health benefits, like helping to lower blood pressure, protecting skin, and repairing damage done by free radicals. Chocolate is also rich in resveratrol, an antioxidant that helps protect the nervous system.
Cacao is rich in minerals like magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper, and more. Cacao also improves blood flow through blood thinning properties like those in aspirin. Dark chocolate is also known to fight inflammation and has great mood-boosting benefits that help your mental health.
Throughout history, both hot chocolate and its predecessor have been said to provide a slew of health benefits. Cocoa is a supposed cure-all used to treat everything from stomach ailments and liver disease to tuberculosis and postnasal drip. It provides energy and improves skin appearance. Hot chocolate was once used as a laxative and, despite the seeming contradiction, ground cocoa beans were also said to fight dysentery.
There are many great reasons to indulge in dark chocolate. To eat the most healthy chocolate, you need to roast your own cacao beans. This gives you complete control over the flavor as well.
Don’t feel guilty the next time you want a boozy hot chocolate cocktail. You can sort of feel good about indulging in this decadent treat if you start with the right kind of artisanal cacao and drink it surrounded by good friends.