With the days growing colder and al fresco dining still the norm, bars and restaurants are likely to offer more hot cocktails on their menus. One cold-weather treat is spiked hot chocolate — a drink just as warming when made at home.
For David Kaplan, co-founder of the bar group Death & Co, sipping hot cocoa brings him back to his childhood in Jackson Hole, Wyo. “You get off the mountain after a day of skiing and have a hot chocolate and comfort food to bring you back to life,” said Mr. Kaplan, who in those days drank strictly Swiss Miss.
The boozy version, he said, “is one of those things that’s so fun because there’s still a slight level of sophistication while being completely comfortable and nostalgic. The sophistication comes with how geeky you are with the chocolate and how it’s prepared.”
Will Talbott, bar manager at the Standard High Line hotel prefers to use Valrhona, a premium French chocolate. The 66-percent dark chocolate pellets he uses are “bitter but not too bitter, sweet but not too sweet,” he said.
Brad Thomas Parsons, the author of several spirits books, likes to add a splash of Braulio, an amaro made in the Italian Alps. The liqueur’s “warming aromatics and distinctive taste instantly evokes an après ski sensation,” Mr. Parsons wrote in an email.
Below, Mr. Kaplan, Mr. Talbott and Mr. Parsons share their favorite recipes for a boozy hot chocolate. Don’t forget the whipped cream.
(From David Kaplan)
Yield: 1 drink, with ganache left for many more
1 ounce Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal
0.5 ounces Clear Creek Pear Brandy
1 teaspoon Green Chartreuse
0.5 ounces Demerara sugar syrup
5 ounces hot milk
1 heaping tablespoon ganache
Temper spirits and syrup in a mixing tin or metal bar shaker inside a mixing glass full of hot (or boiling) water. Once tempered, combine in a glass with ganache, top with 5 ounces hot milk and gently stir.
Garnish: Whipped cream, grated cinnamon, cocoa powder
For the ganache:
16 ounces heavy cream
16 ounces dark chocolate
Bring cream to a boil, pour over chocolate and allow to rest for two minutes. Using a whisk, start in the center of the bowl and gently stir. Be gentle or it will get gritty, and be patient, it will eventually come together and get smooth. Keep covered at room temperature.
The Standard’s Haute Chocolate
(From Will Talbott)
Yield: 1 drink
10 disks Valrhona dark chocolate (66-percent cacao; sold as callets or féves)
4 disks Valrhona white chocolate
6 ounces steamed milk
0.5 ounces Mr. Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur
1.5 ounces Wild Turkey Bourbon
In a small pot, warm milk over low/medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, ensuring milk does not boil. Add chocolate pieces and stir continually until all chocolate has melted and blended evenly. Pour mixture into a mug and add bourbon and liqueur.
Garnish: Whipped cream and cocoa powder.
Brancamenta Hot Chocolate
(From the Seattle chef Eli Dahlin and included in Brad Thomas Parsons’ book, “Amaro”)
Yield: 4 to 6 drinks
5 ¾ cups water
¾ cup Demerara sugar
2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise and seeds scraped out (use both pod and seeds)
6 Medjool dates, halved
Zest from 1 large orange, cut into strips
13 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup strong brewed coffee or espresso
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
6½ ounces Brancamenta, a mint version of Fernet Branca liqueur
Combine water, sugar, vanilla, dates and orange zest in large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes. Strain liquid, discarding solids and bring back to boil.
Break chocolate into pieces and place in large bowl with cocoa powder. Pour about 1 cup of hot sugar syrup onto chocolate. Wait 1 minute, then whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Continue to whisk together liquid and chocolate, adding liquid in 1-cup increments until all of it is incorporated. Stir in coffee and salt.
Carefully strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean saucepan and bring back to a simmer.
Pour 1½ ounces of Brancamenta into a coffee cup. Pour in ¾ cup of the hot chocolate.
Garnish: Whipped cream and orange zest.