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The Best Hot Chocolate Cocktail Recipes

We’re not going to argue the fact that hot chocolate is glorious on its own, especially on a cool and crisp evening. But we love it even more when included in one of these hot cocktail recipes, as you get a one-two punch of comfort via the warm chocolate and hooch. Hot chocolate cocktail recipes are more than just throwing in a splash of Bailey’s or dark rum in your mug of instant cocoa; we think you deserve something even better.

Think complimentary flavors like coconut and banana as well as suitable spirits like brandy and vodka. Hot chocolate may seem like a kid thing (and drinking it should, by all means, make you feel like one), but you can give it the bona fide adult treatment in style. Get the marshmallows ready and stoke the fire, these are the best hot chocolate cocktails to take the sting out of the cold.

Rum and Caramel Spiked Hot Cocoa

This one involves some labor, but the results are well worth it. If you’re stuck on time (or effort), simply use pre-made hot cocoa and whipped cream.

Rum and Caramel Spiked Hot Cocoa on table.
Jesse Cudworth

(Rum and Caramel Spiked Hot Cocoa Created by Jesse Cudworth)

Caramel Ingredients:

  • .5 cup water
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp Koloa Cacao Rum
  • 6 tbsp cold butter

Hot Chocolate Ingredients:

  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup chocolate (even parts dark and milk)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Whipped Cream Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1.5 tbsp Disaronno
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar

Method:

  1. Start by caramelizing the water and sugar into a golden state. Deglaze the caramel by adding 1 tbsp of rum slowly at a time. Allow for each tbsp of rum to fully incorporate before adding another. Next, add in the cold butter and gently swirl the pot to emulsify the butter. Once frothing, pour the caramel onto a Silpat-lined baking sheet and let cool and harden.
  2. Add cinnamon stick and cayenne to the milk before bringing to a simmer, and steep for 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick, and emulsify shards of caramel into the milk by whisking constantly, approximately 4 oz of caramel shards. Whisk in chocolate until melted and set aside to cool.
  3. Whip the heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form, before adding the Disaronno and powdered sugar. Whisk the remaining ingredients in and set aside. Give the hot chocolate one last stir, then pour into desired glass/mug. Scoop a dollop or two of the whipped cream onto the hot chocolate and garnish with ground coffee.

Banana Horchata

This drink is actually a cold cocktail that we’ve revised in the spirit of literal hot chocolate. You’ll love how well banana and brandy work together.

Banana Horchata cocktail.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz banana-infused D’USSÉ VSOP Cognac
  • 3 oz horchata
  • 1 tbsp grated Ibarra Mexican Chocolate
  • 2 dashes Aztec chocolate bitters
  • 2 dashes barrel-aged vanilla bitters

Method:

  1. Shake all ingredients in tin and pour into pot.
  2. Simmer for a few minutes then pour into a glass or mug.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Peppermint is not just for the holidays, it’s for whenever you’re wandering about with hot cocoa in tow. Note that this recipe yields 4 servings.

Mexican Hot Chocolate cocktail.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup Smirnoff Peppermint Twist
  • .25 cup dark chocolate liqueur
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 3 ounces Mexican chocolate, grated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Start by bringing the milk to a simmer in a small saucepan under medium-low heat.
  2. Once it reaches a simmer, whisk in the grated chocolate and vanilla extract.
  3. Let it simmer for 8 minutes, then whisk in the vodka and the chocolate liqueur.
  4. Serve in a mug and top with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Vegan Red Wine Hot Chocolate

In case you haven’t heard, red wine and chocolate go marvelously together. Here, a big and fruity Shiraz is on display—in a vegan recipe, no less.

Red Wine Hot Chocolate in mug.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

(Created by Cassandra Rosen)

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup Tussock Jumper Shiraz
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 cups almond milk, divided
  • vegan chocolate shavings and whipped coconut cream for garnish
Method:
  1. Combine the cocoa powder, almond milk, salt, and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. Heat, whisking occasionally until the cocoa has incorporated, the sugar has melted, and the mixture is hot.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the wine.
  4. Pour into mugs and serve garnished as you like.

Black Forest Hot Cocoa

Simply put, cocoa and cherry do swell together. This easy-to-make cocktail stresses that love connection.

Black Forest Hot Cocoa cocktail.
Dominic Episcopo

(Created by Fitz Bailey)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Coopers’ Craft Bourbon
  • .75 oz cherry liquor
  • 4 oz hot chocolate
  • whipped cream and cocoa dusting for garnish

Method:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a mug, stir, top with garnishes.

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Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
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