bourbon spiked hot chocolate

Sure, the weather outside may be frightful, but if there’s one thing that’ll keep you chugging along through the winter months, it’s the always idyllic mug of hot chocolate. There’s certainly a reason why everyone loves to snuggle up under a blanket in front of a crackling fireplace (or Netflix), cup of piping hot chocolate in tow, but nonetheless, after a couple of identical mugs, it’s easy to get tired of having the same thing over and over. Instead of curling up with your regular instant hot chocolate, here’s a myriad of ways to upgrade the classic winter drink.

1. Mint

Chocolate and mint aren’t a newfound romance, but the duo blends the winter months with the holiday season. Crush up a candy cane and sprinkle the shards into the drink, or use a full length candy cane as a stirrer, which will give the chocolate a hint of mint. You can even throw a handful of mint candies—like Junior Mints—into the mug.

2. Cayenne Pepper

A dash of cayenne pepper is guaranteed to boost both the chocolate flavor and the overall spicy level. You don’t need a ton (although if you’re a spice aficionado, sprinkle away).

3. Cookie Butter

For a caramel and gingery flavor, swirl in a tablespoon of cookie butter while you heat the milk and cocoa powder. It’ll melt right in, creating a much thicker result. For an added bonus, top it off with crumbled speculoos cookies.

4. Espresso

Coffee purists might scoff at the idea of adding a shot of espresso to hot chocolate, but the chocolate/coffee combo is a bona fide classic. If you don’t have an espresso maker on hand, you can just add a dash of espresso powder.

5. Alcohol

For a sweet take on a nightcap, shake up what you’re used to by adding in a couple spoonfuls of your preferred liquor. Cognac creates a subtle, earthy note, and Irish creme will give the hot chocolate an added creaminess, but you can use just about any liqueur—even wine!

6. Nuts

For a hint of nuttiness, swirl in a tablespoon or so of nut butter—anything from peanut to almond to hazelnut to sesame (or even Nutella, for an extra dose of chocolate), which will make the hot chocolate much richer.

7. Cinnamon

Never had Mexican hot chocolate? The simplest version boasts just cinnamon and the regular ingredients for hot chocolate, but you can also add other spices like nutmeg, cayenne, and vanilla extract.

Looking for some more inspiration? Check out these hot chocolate recipes.

Banana Hot Chocolate

banana hot chocolate


This hot chocolate gets extra sweetness from blended bananas, and the final result is a mix between chocolate-dipped frozen bananas and a banana smoothie, but hot, of course. Get our Banana Hot Chocolate recipe.

Caramel Hot Chocolate

caramel hot chocolate

Cooking Classy

Raise the bar by making your own caramel sauce, then melt it down with chocolate chips. Garnish with whipped cream and more caramel. Get the Caramel Hot Chocolate recipe.

Bourbon Spiked Hot Chocolate

bourbon spiked hot chocolate with caramel and whipped cream

A Cookie Named Desire

Instead of white sugar, this recipe calls for a couple of teaspoons of brown sugar, and coupled with the bourbon, the end result has a nutty, caramelized sharpness. Get the Bourbon Spiked Hot Chocolate recipe.

Red Wine Hot Chocolate

Red Wine Hot Chocolate recipe


Prefer wine to hard liquor? Luckily, pairing wine and chocolate is a genius move. Get the Red Wine Hot Chocolate recipe.

Blackberry Hot Chocolate

blackberry hot chocolate

Little Sugar Snaps

Memorialize summer when it’s snowing out by making this fruity hot chocolate. Just cook down the blackberries with a bit of sugar to create a coulis, then blend with the hot chocolate in a blender, which makes it super frothy. Get the Blackberry Hot Chocolate recipe.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

peppermint hot chocolate recipe

Sugar Hero

With just the right ratio of cool peppermint to rich hot chocolate, this will make you feel warm and cozy from the inside out. Get the Peppermint Hot Chocolate recipe.

Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate

pumpkin spice white hot chocolate

Foodie Misadventures

Fall produce can always have a place in the colder months, and this recipe is a testament to that. Pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice make this hot chocolate taste like a pumpkin spice latte, especially since instead of milk or dark chocolate, it calls for melted white chocolate. Get the Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate recipe.

Slow Cooker Mexican Hot Chocolate

slow cooker Mexican hot chocolate

Little Spice Jar

Let your slow cooker do all the work this time; just toss in chocolate, cocoa powder, sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder, and milk, and cook for two hours. Get the Slow Cooker Mexican Hot Chocolate recipe.

Creamy Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

peanut butter hot chocolate

Tiny Tummy Tales

Warm milk, cocoa powder, honey, peanut butter, and a pinch of sea salt in a pot until the peanut butter has blended and is less thick. Get the Creamy Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate recipe.

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Amy Schulman is an associate editor at Chowhound. She is decidedly pro-chocolate.
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