Few drinks embody happiness in a mug like hot chocolate. There are countless ways to make it, from instant packs of cocoa powder to double-boiler setups used to carefully melt down chocolate bars or chips.
If you’re truly looking to soak in the decadence of drinking melted chocolate, opt for a from-scratch recipe that uses both cocoa powder and semisweet chocolate for added body and flavor. This yields a true hot chocolate, rather than simply hot cocoa. You can choose to use semi-sweet chocolate for a sweeter drink, or bittersweet chocolate for chocolate-forward flavor.
How to Make Boozy Hot Chocolate
Heat milk in thick-bottomed saucepan over low heat, stirring continuously. When warm, whisk in cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons sugar, salt and chopped chocolate. Continue to whisk vigorously until all ingredients are fully melted and incorporated. Remove from heat and whisk in 4 ounces rum.
In separate mixing bowl, add heavy cream, vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon sugar and 2 ounces rum. Whisk vigorously for 2–4 minutes, until thick enough to firmly coat spoon but before solid peaks begin to form.
To serve, add chocolate mixture to heat-proof mug, leaving room for cream. Float 2 ounces of cream atop the drink by gently pouring it over the back of a spoon.
What Alcohol Mixes Well with Hot Chocolate?
Since everything’s better with booze, this recipe has a touch of rum incorporated into the chocolate as well as the whipped cream topping. We recommend an aged rum like Barbancourt 8 Year or Ron del Barrilito 3 Star, though deep-flavored Agricole or botanical options like Rhum Clément or Boukman Rhum work well. However, you can also substitute with whiskey, brandy, tequila, peppermint schnapps or almost any spirit of your choosing.
The key to preparation is in layering a lightly whipped cream with the base. It creates an effect not unlike a properly made Irish coffee, creating texture, an interplay of flavors and an impressive visual effect. Also, rather than fully whipped cream that sits firmly atop the drink, keeping a light hand and whipping for only about half the time creates a cream that floats and gently mixes with the drink as you sip.
What Kind of Milk Can I Use in a Hot Cocoa Cocktail?
There are a range of dairy milks and milk alternatives that are delicious in a hot cocoa cocktail. For a dairy-free option, use soy, almond, oat, hemp or any non-dairy milk of choice in place of the whole milk below. Coconut milk is delicious and creamy too, and the coconut flavor will add another dimension to your drink. To create dairy-free whipped cream, substitute coconut milk for the heavy cream.
Does Baileys Curdle in Hot Chocolate?
Nope! Baileys, the velvety Irish cream liqueur, even has a recipe on its website that advises hot cocoa lovers to spike their sippers with Baileys.
How Do I Make a Mexican Hot Chocolate Cocktail?
Hot chilies and cinnamon are the two aromatic, spicy additions that make Mexican hot chocolate stand out from the usual recipe. And if you like spicy hot chocolate, it’s easy to make a Mexican hot chocolate cocktail. Take the recipe above, and add 1 teaspoon cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Finally, swap the rum for your favorite añejo tequila or a slightly smoky mezcal. And if you enjoy deep coffee notes to bolster the chocolate flavor, reduce the tequila to 4 ounces and add in a couple ounces of a coffee liqueur like Kahlua, Tia Maria or Kamora.
This story was updated on December 7, 2022.
Last Updated: June 1, 2023