Spicy Cocoa & Mezcal Cocktail

This has to be the most thoroughly grown-up hot cocoa we’ve ever tasted. The mezcal, ancho chile, cinnamon, and bittersweet chocolate blend together to create a flavor reminiscent of a pleasantly aromatic pipe tobacco: think lightly sweet chocolate and smoky heat. It’s made with both cocoa powder and melted chocolate chips, so it’s more luxurious and chocolaty than the milky kid stuff. And with nearly a jigger of mezcal, it packs a pretty good punch, too.

It’s the perfect boozy treat to punctuate an evening on the patio with the S.O., especially if they like their tipples on the dry side. After dinner, it can be nice to get up from the table, stretch your legs, and hover around the stove for a little cocoa-making. Well, you could try to leave the S.O. on the patio, but you know they’ll just follow you. If the conversation is flowing, that’s more fun anyway, right?

Our tip: The mezcal is added to the cocoa late in the recipe, so if your S.O., or some other guest, is abstaining, it’s easy to just leave it out. The spicy hot cocoa makes a nice little sip of dessert all by itself.

Servings: 4


¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 Tbsp granulated sugar

Pinch kosher salt

2 cups whole milk

6 cinnamon sticks, divided

1 whole dried ancho chile pod, split

8 oz bittersweet chocolate chips

5 oz mezcal

Whipped cream, chile powder, dark chocolate shavings, for garnish


  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, salt, milk, 2 of the cinnamon sticks, ancho chile, and bittersweet chocolate chips. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is hot.

  2. Lower the heat and simmer the cocoa, whisking occasionally, until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Carefully drain and discard the chile and the cinnamon sticks.

  3. Return the cocoa to the pot, add the mezcal, and whisk the cocktail over medium heat until hot.

  4. Divide the drink among four mugs. Garnish with whipped cream, chile powder, chocolate shavings, and cinnamon sticks. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from: Serious Eats

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