9 Grown-Up Hot Chocolate Recipes

Drinking hot chocolate conjures up memories of simpler times—elementary school snow days and first dates at the local ice-skating rink. Now that you’re an adult snow days are a few and far between but that doesn’t mean the classic wintertime drink has to suffer the same fate. It does, however, need a revamp. After braving the snow during your evening commute, cozy up with one of these nine grown-up hard hot chocolate recipes.

Hot Mentha Mess

hard hot chocolate

The Hot Mentha Mess promises to solve your winter frustrations. image: ménage à trois vodka

The roads were a mess, your driveway is a mess and the 45 minutes added to your commute have turned your New Year’s weight loss goals into a mess. The Hot Mentha Mess, created by Erin Sullivan of The Third Man, will solve all that.

1 part Ménage à Trois Vodka
1 part Branca Menta
6 parts hot chocolate (made of half and half with water and sweetened condensed milk)
2 pinches cayenne pepper
1 homemade marshmallow


Heat hot chocolate with water, condensed milk and cayenne. Pour into mug. Add Solbeso and Branca Menta. Garnish with homemade marshmallow, sprinkle of cayenne and fresh mint spring.

Hottie Choco Toddy

Serve the Hottie Choco Toddy hot or over ice image: afrohead rum

Serve the Hottie Choco Toddy hot or over ice. image: afrohead rum

Notes of toasty oak and a hint of honey and a ghost of vanilla for a smooth, warming finish make Afrohead Rum the perfect companion for a cup of cocoa.

1.25oz Afrohead Premium Aged Dark Rum
3-4oz hot chocolate
1 cinnamon stick


Build all ingredients in mug. If you’re the type that still orders an iced latte in the winter, leave the cinnamon stick in while hot chocolate comes to room temp, then shake ingredients and serve over ice.

CÎROC Hard Hot Chocolate

When a storm gets in the way of your big night out, have a taste of decadence anyway image: cÎroc

When a storm gets in the way of your big night out, have a taste of decadence anyway. image: cÎroc

When a storm gets in the way of your big night out, CÎROC Hard Hot Chocolate gives you a taste of decadence topped with chocolate drizzle. Mix it, then light a fire, grab a cashmere throw and cozy up with that special someone.

1.5oz CÎROC Vodka
.75oz Chocolate Syrup
.75oz Warm Milk


Combine ingredients in a clear glass mug. Garnish with chocolate drizzle.   

Peppermint Hot Chocolate on a Stick

hard hot chocolate

A minty treat worth every gulp. image: i|o at the godfrey

Peppermint Hot Chocolate on a Stick was created at I|O at The Godfrey in Chicago using a bar of chocolate, cocoa powder and peppermint schnapps. Simply put, it is a minty cocktail layered with choco happiness and worth every gulp.

16oz chocolate
40 grams cocoa powder
110 grams powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
10 grams Peppermint Schnapps


Melt chocolate on double boiler. Add cocoa powder, powdered sugar and salt. Mix until completely smooth. It should resemble fudge icing. Pour into molds or an ice cube tray using a piping bag or zip lock bag with a hole cut in the corner. Cool down until solid and push skewer through it. Heat up milk until almost boiling (190 degrees). Add Baileys or Kahlua to desired amount. Stir hot chocolate on the stick until dissolved.

Peanut Butter Biscotti Cocoa

hard hot chocolate

Comfort food in liquid form. image: whiteface lodge

Forget about that bag of candy and plate of pasta and get your comfort food in liquid form. Tucked away in the high peaks of Lake Placid (annual average temperature: 42 degrees, yes that includes summer), lead mixologist Zachary Blair of the award-winning Whiteface Lodge knows that a warm, indulgent beverage can cure the shivers.

1oz Vanilla-Infused brandy
1oz Peanut Butter Liquor
5oz Semi Sweet Hot Chocolate
Biscotti Whipped Cream (.5oz to every 3oz of whipping cream)


Mix brandy, liquor and hot chocolate. Top with whipped cream. Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Pinnacle® Hot Cocoa

hard hot chocolate

The cherries on top will pull you out of your winter funk. image: pinnacle

Science says people’s moods tend to dip with the temps. We say a cup of hard hot chocolate that includes cherries on top will pull you out of your funk.

1 part Pinnacle® Whipped®
2 parts Hot Chocolate
Whipped Cream


Pour into a mug and garnish with whipped cream and cherries.

Rothstein Hot Chocolate

hard hot chocolate

The Rothstein Hot Chocolate is a luscious drink for a cold evening. image: amanda picotte

The scotch gives the Rothstein Hot Chocolate some creaminess and just a touch of bitterness, and the Lustau PX Sherry is so luscious you’ll want to save some for your grown-up summer ice cream social.

1.5oz Black Bottle Blended Scotch Whisky
.5oz Lustau PX Sherry
Hot chocolate
Whipped cream
Grated Cinnamon


Combine Black Bottle Scotch and Lustau and fill mug with your own hot chocolate. Stir. Top with whipped cream and cinnamon.

Skew’s Me

hard hot chocolate

Don’t let the cutesy name fool you. The Skew’s Me packs some serious punch. image: amarula cream

With sugar, cream, cocoa powder and espresso, consider Amarula Cream’s Skew’s Me dessert and after-dinner coffee all in one. Don’t be fooled by the cutesy name and sweet taste, the whisky and liqueur ensures this winter sipper packs a serious punch.

1oz Amarula Cream
2oz hot espresso
1oz whisky
Orange peel
Cinnamon sticks
Pinch of hot chocolate powder or cocoa


Prepare hot espresso in a highball or deep-stemmed glass. Add whisky and sugar to taste, orange peel and cinnamon stick. Stir. Pour Amarula into coffee mixture and stir again until texture appears creamy. Float cream on top and garnish with pinch of hot chocolate or cocoa powder.

Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate

hard hot chocolate

A drink that’s sugar and spice and everything nice. image: blu wolf bistro

If you’re the type who begins shivering Sept. 1, your best bet might be a hot chocolate cocktail that’s as spicy as it is piping. Fill your mug with Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate, created by Rob Bennett at the Blu Wolf Bistro in Rochester.

1oz Soltado Spicy Anejo Tequila
1oz chocolate vodka
4oz hot chocolate mocha (50:50 hot chocolate and espresso)
Chipotle chocolate syrup
Chocolate shavings


Drizzle chipotle chocolate syrup in mug. Pour in hot chocolate mocha, add tequila and vodka. Stir. Top with whipped cream and cinnamon or chocolate shavings.

beth ann clyde

beth ann clyde

Beth Ann Clyde is a social strategist of Long Island Pulse. Have a story idea or just want to say hello? Email bethann@lipulse.com or reach out on Twitter @BAClyde.