When it’s the coldest time of the year, and warm drinks are in order, it’s hard to beat a perfectly made cocktail that marries fine spirits with chocolate. Sure, it’s easy enough to spike a simple mug of hot chocolate, but if you really want to take your nightcap to the next level—or learn how to make the perfect holiday drink—just take a cue from the recipes below.
Mansion Global Experience Luxury consulted with mixologists from some of the world’s top bars and cocktail lounges to learn how to make their favorite warm drinks that shine a spotlight on the most enticing of ingredients: chocolate.
Surrounded by the gorgeous Irish countryside in County Kerry, the five-star Sheen Falls Lodge provides a wintertime escape, especially when sipping this riff on the classic Brandy Alexander at the cozy Sheen Bar. The drink was crafted to be stirred with a chocolate lollipop, allowing it to be sweetened to taste. “The idea was to replace the Crème de Cacao with hot chocolate and make it a warm, cozy, decadent drink, perfect for the winter, to enjoy by an open fireplace,” says bar manager Diogo Ingham.
1 ounce V.S. Armagnac
0.5 ounce Grand Marnier
2.5 ounces whole milk
2.5 ounces cream
Directions: Combine the armagnac, Grand Marnier, and milk in a pan. Heat to around 140°F. Pour into a pre-warmed tea cup. Dust the top with nutmeg. Serve alongside the chocolate lollipop. Makes one serving.
Madre de los Muertos
The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch—a world-class ski resort in Beaver Creek, Colorado—turns 20 this winter, and to celebrate, mixologist Danny Rodriguez has created a tequila concoction with heat from chile de árbol. It’s a “traditional hot-chocolate drink, but with a delightful Mexican twist,” notes Rodriguez.
½ Mexican chili (chile de árbol), roughly chopped
4 ounces hot water
2 ounces milk
3 ounces hot chocolate mix
3 ounces Patrón Añejo
1 ounce Vago Mezcal
Directions: Combine hot water, milk, hot-chocolate mix, and chilies in a saucepan over medium heat. Boil for three minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the mixture from the heat and discard the chilies. Mix in the tequila, mezcal, and Irish cream. Pour into a mug and garnish with fresh red chillies and chocolate pearls, if desired. Best served in a Bodum double-walled cup. Makes two servings.
Red-Velvet Hot Chocolate
Reminiscent of a 15th-century Tudor manor, the Deer Path Inn on Chicago’s North Shore has charmed generations of guests for nearly 100 years. Jorge Centeno, the Inn’s “chief spirits officer,” whips up his signature take on a boozy hot chocolate during the holiday season. “In addition to being a festive holiday color, red velvet is fun to combine with hot chocolate because, historically, the ingredient of cocoa was added to coarse flour mixtures to create smooth, ‘velvet’ cakes that were served at fancy dessert parties in the Victorian era,” says Centeno. “I like the idea of nodding to that history, then modernizing it with all the hot-chocolate elements we know and love today. It’s a popular guest choice for warming up on cold winter evenings.”
8 ounces chocolate chips
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 drops of red food coloring (or more if deeper color desired)
1 ounce vanilla- or cream-flavored vodka
Directions: Add the chocolate chips to a small sauce pot on medium heat. Once they start to melt, add the milk while stirring with a silicone-covered whisk. Stir until melted and smooth. Bring to a low boil, stirring often. Add vodka and food coloring. Stir and cook for about a minute. Serve it in a clear cappuccino cup and top with whipped cream and more chocolate chips. Makes one serving.
Coppa del Nonno
Hotel Hassler Roma, which sits atop the Spanish Steps, has hosted the world’s most elite and discerning travelers since 1893. For a when-in-Rome experience, head to the cozy Hassler Bar and order the Coppa del Nonno (grandfather’s cup). “I found inspiration for this drink from a famous Italian ice-cream cup produced in Italy since the fifties, which is still popular today,” says head bartender Stefani Santucci.
2 ounces white hot chocolate
1.5 ounces dark hot chocolate
0.75 ounce espresso coffee
0.25 ounce Nonino Picolit grappa
0.25 ounce Disaronno amaretto
Directions: Pour the espresso coffee into the bottom of a glass mug, then add the grappa and Disaronno. Heat everything by using the steam wand of a coffee machine. Pour the dark hot chocolate first, then the white chocolate slowly, paying attention and trying to create a color gap between the ingredients. Makes one serving.
Le Jaguar Blanc
One of the toniest hotels in the city, Baccarat Hotel New York serves fine cocktails at its two dining venues: the Grand Salon and The Bar. New this season, Le Jaguar Blanc celebrates the pairing of mezcal and chocolate, a marriage that has existed in various forms throughout Mexican culture for centuries. “The delicate dance of rich, smoky, and sweet flavors is a wonder to behold,” says bar manager Mark Tubridy. “This lighter expression of that natural combination creates a decadent and boozy, yet somehow light and airy, winter warmer to get us through the colder months.”
1.5 ounces Del Maguey Vida mezcal
0.75 ounce Cointreau
6 ounces heavy cream
1.5 ounces white chocolate chips
Peels of one lemon and half an orange
Regan’s Orange Bitters
Directions: Combine the heavy cream, white chocolate, and citrus peels in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Stir occasionally until the chocolate melts completely and the mixture becomes smooth. Once the mixture reaches approximately 160°F, remove from heat and strain into a pre-warmed mug. Add the mezcal, Cointreau, and two dashes of orange bitters. Stir briefly. Garnish with chocolate shavings. Makes one serving.
Coco del Sol
During the holiday season, guests of The St. Regis Atlanta get into the yuletide spirit with each sip of this boozy creation, which is festively served in a signature red mug. “This cocktail plays with the delightful winter joy of a traditional hot chocolate. Tequila pairs especially well with creamy chocolate, which is why we like working with Valrhona, because of its smooth and rich texture,” says St. Regis Bar manager Gordon Kelley.
2 ounces Casa Del Sol reposado tequila
2 ounces hot chocolate
1 ounce Fratello hazelnut liqueur
Whipped cream and cocoa powder
directions: Combine the first three ingredients in a mixing tin. Stir for 20 seconds. Strain into a mug. Top with whipped cream and dust with cocoa powder. Makes one serving.
Hot Chocolate Recipe:
2 cups whole milk
0.5 cup Valrhona Guanaja 70% dark chocolate
0.5 tablespoon Valrhona cocoa powder
Directions: Bring milk to a boil. Pour the hot milk slowly into the cocoa powder in a bowl, and whisk vigorously until there are no lumps. Melt the chocolate in a second bowl. Pour 1/3 of the milk-cocoa mixture into the melted chocolate. Mix until it is smooth and shiny. Then pour the rest of the liquid in, mix, and strain into a saucepan. Heat the chocolate mixture just to a boil, whipping vigorously to obtain a light and creamy froth.
This article appears in the December issue of Mansion Global Experience Luxury.