Mezcal Hot Cocoa with Peppermint Stick
Of all the offerings you’ll find at your local liquor store, mezcal is among the more divisive. Its smoky undertones seem to make fans or foes, depending on who you’re asking. And though I’m not a big cocktail drinker, mezcal is often what I reach for when I’m in the mood. During the cold weather months, this Mezcal Hot Cocoa has become a new favorite fix.
I learned about the magical mashup of mezcal and chocolate from my intern, Kristin Rose. In addition to finishing up her education in nutrition, she’s a skilled mixologist, working as a bartender when her schedule allows. When I proposed we cook up some warming winter cocktails and mocktails, she suggested mezcal hot chocolate, and I pounced.
Why Mezcal for Hot Cocoa?
Mezcal is made from agave, the same plant as tequila, but it’s smoked before fermentation. That process infuses the finished product with a soft, smoky flavor that pairs deliciously with the sweetness of chocolate. Since both ingredients are native to Mexico, perhaps it makes sense that they go so well together.
What Kind of Mezcal to Buy?
Just like you aren’t likely to crack open a fine French champagne to make mimosas, there’s no need to invest in an aged, top-shelf mezcal for hot cocoa. The complexity of a high-quality mezcal is likely to get lost when mixed with the flavors of hot chocolate and peppermint. Plus, there are plenty of perfectly delightful mezcal offerings in the “under $40” range. Look for the word “joven” on the bottle, since that’s an indication that it’s not aged and likely to be more budget-friendly. Here are a few suggested brands from Kristin:
- El Silencio Espadin (pictured in the photo)
- Del Maguey Vida
- Mezcal Union Joven
Don’t Skip the Peppermint Stick
The candy cane isn’t just for window dressing in this cozy drink. The peppermint flavor seeps into the hot liquid and the combination of mint, cocoa, and mezcal is quite wonderful. Indeed, consider letting that peppermint stick steep for a minute or two before you drink it.
Other ways to use Mezcal
Once you’ve made your delightful Mezcal Hot Cocoa, tuck that bottle away for another day. It will last as all spirits do, for a good long while. There are myriad mixes for enjoying mezcal. Here are four suggestions:
- Swap mezcal for tequila in your favorite margarita (try this fizzy marg for a change)
- Make a cocktail with fresh pineapple juice and a generous squeeze of lime.
- Use it in place of vodka in a Bloody Mary, a cousin to the more familiar Bloody Maria (traditionally made with tequila).
- Make a mezcal soda, by pouring it over ice, topping it with soda water, and adding a wedge of lime.
Alternatively, you can make this booze-free by skipping the mezcal altogether. Or you could swap in another favorite spirit if mezcal isn’t your jam.
If you like this Mezcal Hot Cocoa, check out these other cold weather drinks:
Hot Cocoa with Whipped Cream Hearts
Mezcal Hot Cocoa with a Peppermint Stick
The smooth smokiness of mezcal proves to be a perfect pairing with a classic mug of hot cocoa. Even better, add a peppermint stick for a bright kick of flavor. Feel free to scale back the mezcal to one ounce or leave it out altogether. And scale up the recipe if making this for a crowd.
- 1 packet hot cocoa mix or 8 ounces homemade hot chocolate
- 1 ½ ounces mezcal
- Big dollop whipped cream unsweetened or sweetened
- 1 candy cane
- Optional: cocoa powder dusting
Empty the hot cocoa packet into a mug. Add the mezcal. Pour 8 ounces boiling water (or 8 ounces homemade hot chocolate) into the mug. Stir well. Add a generous dollop of whipped cream and the candy cane. Use a small sieve to dust the top of the whipped cream with cocoa powder.
Make 1 mug
Much gratitude to my intern Kristin Rose, who advised me on all things mezcal and worked with me to develop this recipe.
12.12.2022 at 12:32 PM #
so excited to try this with my roommates! miss you katie!
12.12.2022 at 12:32 PM #
Aw, that makes my day!