Warm Up With a Spiked Hot Chocolate

Get the recipe for this tequila, mezcal and Mexican-spiced drink.

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Hot Molten Chocolate

Hot Molten Chocolate

Try this recipe from Dante in New York City.

Photo by: Steve Freihon

Steve Freihon

According to the internet, January 31 is National Hot Chocolate Day. While we’re somewhat skeptical as to how real of a holiday this is, there’s no denying that the last day of January is a great day to bust out a mug of steaming cocoa to keep winter’s chill at bay. And if you’re 21 or older, spiking that mug of hot chocolate with a shot of liquor can make the experience even better.

It’s been a particularly brutal winter in New York this year, but Dante in Greenwich Village has several ways of fighting the cold. The bar — a craft-cocktail spot named #16 on last year’s World’s 50 Best Bars list and located in a historic cafe that originally opened in 1915 — is offering a “fine winter drinking” menu featuring variations on classic drinks served hot or warm.

For the menu, Dante owner Naren Young asked bartender Marlo Gamora to create a spicy hot cocoa to pair with mezcal, a cousin of tequila that offers smoky and herbal flavors. So he went all-out, creating a homemade Mexican-spiced cocoa mix and a red chile tincture for spice, along with a mix of tequila, mezcal and Grand Marnier orange liqueur for a citrus-agave kick. The result is the Hot Molten Chocolate, a rich and indulgent treat you’ll want to try next time it snows.

“If you’re gonna make it, make it the best you can,” Gamora says. “I used Mexican chocolate in the mix because it’s so different — there’s a lot more warmth and cinnamon in it, and it’s not as milky.” The drink’s cocoa mix includes three different types of chocolate, along with whole-grain corn flour for thickening, and an unexpected addition — diastatic malt powder. It sounds scary, but it’s made from barley, is widely available online and is commonly used by bakers to give bread a better texture and crust. “It adds that malty flavor and lightens the texture up a bit, making it more like a chocolate malt,” Gamora explains.

The key to assembling a hot drink, Gamora says, is making sure everything is as hot as possible. “Always preheat the glasses with warm water, and keep the milk just shy of boiling,” he says. If you’re making a few rounds at a time, he adds, “Ideally, you’d want to put the milk and cocoa mix in a saucepan or slow cooker and warm it up that way. The longer it sits, the richer and richer it gets.”

Oh, and don’t forget the marshmallows!

Hot Molten Chocolate

By Naren Young & Marlo Gamora
New York, New York


Makes 1 drink

  • .5 oz. Olmeca Altos Reposado Tequila
  • .5 oz. Grand Marnier
  • .25 oz. Montelobos Mezcal
  • .5 oz. agave nectar
  • 8 dashes chile tincture*
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch Maldon sea salt
  • 2 heaping tbsp. Dante House Cocoa Mix**
  • milk, hot
  • marshmallows and grated dark chocolate


Add all the ingredients except the milk in a mug and stir briefly. Fill with hot milk and stir to combine. Garnish with marshmallows and grated dark chocolate.

*To make the chile tincture, combine 1 cup high-proof neutral grain spirit (such as Everclear) and 3 fresh red chile peppers. Let stand for about 24 hours (the longer the chiles infuse, the spicier the tincture will be). Strain before using.

**Dante House Cocoa Mix


Makes enough for about 30 drinks

  • 100 g. dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 100 g. Mexican chocolate (such as Ibarra), roughly chopped
  • 100 g. cocoa powder
  • 100 g. sugar
  • 50 g. whole-grain corn flour (if you can't find corn flour, substitute cornmeal)
  • 50 g. diastatic malt powder (such as King Arthur)


Add the dark and Mexican chocolate to a food processor and pulse until a powdery consistency. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to mix.

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