The Best Boozy Hot Chocolate Recipe

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.

While there’s something to be said for the convenience of premade mixes, 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.

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.

You can choose to use semisweet chocolate for a sweeter drink, or bittersweet chocolate for more chocolate-forward flavor. For a dairy free option, use soy, almond, oat or any non-dairy milk of choice in place of the whole milk below. To create dairy-free whipped cream, substitute coconut milk for the heavy cream.


Prep time

5 min.

Cook Time

5 min.

Total Time

12 min.

Serving Size



4 cups whole milk

4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

4 tablespoons fine granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

6 ounces rum

1 cup heavy cream


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.


Published on December 11, 2021

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