There’s no denying the allure of cupping your hands around a warm glass of coffee or cocoa as temperatures drop—and when that flavor is enhanced by the addition of your favorite potables, you just may have stumbled upon the best of both worlds. With a few steps and a well-stocked home bar, you can blend an aromatic, classic hot cocktail. “There are many ways to ‘cozy up’ your booze,” says Washington, D.C.–based mixologist Duane Sylvestre, who often spotlights such seasonal favorites as hot chocolate, ciders and buttered rum and takes pride in considering himself a “thirsty revivalist.” “The easiest approach is to simply warm your glass before pouring in your neat [from the bottle] spirit, cordial or liqueur. To do this, fill the glass with hot water and allow it to rest for a minute. Empty and dry the glass, then pour in what you like. The aromatics in your selection become more volatile and available to the nose.” Bonus: Some drinks can actually take the place of dessert or pair seamlessly with pastries and other traditional sweets. The best blend is what titillates your palate. “Taste as you go,” Sylvestre advises. “If you like it sweeter, make it sweeter. The choices are all yours. Put together flavors you’d like, but just remember that it is alcohol, so even if it’s delicious, drink responsibly!” —KAB
In Love With the Cocoa
Beyond adding Frangelico or Baileys to your hot chocolate, there are many other interesting avenues to spike this guilty pleasure. Green Chartreuse, or even Fernet-Branca, can be a delightful twist. Want a less-sweet option? Try adding a small amount of peated (smoky) scotch whisky or mezcal to your cocoa.
Grown-up Cocoa (Smoky)
1 packet of cocoa mix  
1 cup half and half
¾ ounce Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Single Malt Scotch Whisky
   Whipped Cream 

Combine cocoa mix into stove-heated half and half, then sweeten to taste. Add whisky, top with whipped cream or marshmallows, as preferred.
Read more in the February issue of EBONY Magazine.