The 12 Drinks of Christmas – Seventh Drink

There are all kinds of treats that we only enjoy during the holiday season. We rarely have candy canes, those awesome chocolate oranges that break apart into wedges or snickerdoodles in May. Then there are those treats we enjoy more often, but are extra special this time of year. What would Christmas be without a big creamy mug of Hot Chocolate? Well, we aren’t going to find out, but we are going to sexy it up a bit and make a more adult version of this decadent treat with a nod to those chocolate oranges. So in that spirit, please join me for the seventh of The 12 Drinks of Christmas. Sing along at home, if you like, because, “For the seventh drink of Christmas, Uncle Monkey made for me, Orange Hot Chocolate”.

There are a lot of options when it comes to your base hot chocolate. Obviously, you can grab grandma’s recipe down and mix up some sugar, butter, dark cocoa, salt and milk, for a great homemade option. You could melt some dark chocolate bars and add cream, or break up a little Abuelita with some cinnamon and leche, but I recommend going the easy route like I did and use a premium hot chocolate mix. I went with Mama Lee’s Double Dutch, because it is some of the very best on the market and because we make it, so I know how good it is. We make lots of flavors, but I love this “basic” straightforward, but decadent cocoa blend as a base for experimentation. The thing is, go with the style you like and the level of commitment you are feeling up to. Trust me on the Mama Lee’s though, it rocks.

So heat up some hot chocolate and pop abut 8 ounces into your favorite mug, add 1 ounce of orange liqueur, I went with Grand Marnier; 1 ounce of Cognac or brandy, all I had was Hennessy, so that’d what we are using. Toss a pinch of orange zest in there and give it a good stir. At this point I can recommend adding some marshmallows and drizzling a little melted chocolate over them, but I am not always in the mood for marshmallows and tonight I wanted a more decadent option. So grab your tins and pop in 3-4 ounces of heavy cream, the spring off your Hawthorne strainer, 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 an ounce of Grand Mariner. Shake well to the beat of one of my favorite songs of the season, “Please Come Home For Christmas“, by The Eagles; keep on shaking till that cream thickens up, ladle it over the top of your drink and toss a little orange zest on there, maybe even grate a little dark chocolate on top.

Is there anything finer? I made sure to make my chocolate hot, but not too hot, so I got a big hot sip with that orange pushing through the cool whipped cream and I did not burn the tip of my tongue. This is an important part of drinking hot chocolate, especially if you have an appointment under the mistletoe later, with a consenting member of your pod, of course. Here we are trying to not even breathe the same air as anyone else and I have to go talking about meeting under the mistletoe. Obviously, this is wonderful, whether you go with marshmallows or whipped cream or just drink it straight up.

I love the orange thing here, makes sense, I have always been a fan of those dark chocolate oranges and regular oranges and regular chocolate and all the things. Laura is not crazy about fruit in her chocolate or coffee. She’s wrong, but that is ok, there are accommodations one must make in every marriage. So, if orange doesn’t float your canoe, replace that Grand Mariner with some creme de menthe and skip the orange zest. That’s the great thing about hot chocolate, it is just begging for you to add something to it. Toss in some bourbon, you are still good. Throw some Campari in there and toss out the whole damn mug, but Branca Menta or Amaro Montenegro would be awesome. Banane du Bresil makes awesome hot chocolate, especially with a little dark rum. Oh and that weird peanut butter whiskey finally shines when you add a little creme de cacao to it and pop it into your cup of hot chocolate. Do what makes you happy, like the mug says, “Explore More” whether that is out on the trail, in your kitchen or behind the bar. Get out there and make some mistakes, discover some roads less traveled and share that journey with the ones you love. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay festive, my friends.