Four Hot Chocolate Substitutes to Boost Your Holiday Cheer

‘Tis the season for hot drinks, chief among them hot cocoa. But the idea of another hot chocolate may have you feeling less jolly and more ready for a sugar crash. Switch up your winter warmers with these fun and festive alternatives to yet another hot chocolate.

Hot Cider

This common fall drink is just as tasty and versatile in the winter. It has all the holiday spices you crave in a gorgeous amber beverage that begs for a night in by the fireplace.

To make this spiced treat, pour your desired serving of fresh apple cider into a saucepan or pot. You can either add ground cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon to taste or infuse whole spices in the cider with a tea ball. Cook over medium heat until the cider is heated through and the spice blend has been infused. Add orange slices to your serving mugs, and fill them with your spiced cider. An added bonus? Your house will smell amazing.

For an “Instagram-able” finished product, add cinnamon sticks to your mug.

Mulled Wine

Perhaps you’re ready to ditch the hot cocoa for something a little more, well, alcoholic. While there are plenty of chilled cocktails to enjoy, you don’t have to sacrifice the comfort of a warm drink simply because you want a little kick.

Mulled wines can be store-bought or made at home, and either way, they’re delicious. To make your own, you’ll need a bottle of good but inexpensive red wine, an orange, 6 cloves, a couple of cinnamon sticks, and 3 anise stars. You will also need honey and brandy on hand (about a ¼ and ½ cup, respectively).

The rest is as easy as drinking it! Simply combine all ingredients in a saucepan, simmer until heated through, and enjoy!

Irish Coffee

Irish coffee deserves to be in your winter drink repertoire for two reasons: (1) they give you a slight caffeine boost that is necessary during the holiday season and (2) they are entirely adaptable to your taste.

For those of you interested in traditional Irish coffee, you’ll need coffee, brown sugar, Irish whiskey (the brand is your preference), and heavy cream. Make a normal cup of black coffee (whichever brand you prefer) and stir in a spoon full of brown sugar. Add a shot of Irish whiskey and stir. Top the drink with slightly whipped heavy cream (poured into the glass over the back of a spoon so that it sits neatly atop the drink).

If you’re feeling less fancy, simply make your favorite coffee and spike it with a cream liquor!

Heated Eggnog 

Eggnog is one of the most divisive holiday treats—you either love it or you wouldn’t touch it with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole (all we have to say to you is, you’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch). If you’re a nog aficionado but haven’t tried heated eggnog, you’re missing out!

The easiest method to create this festive cocktail is to use store-bought, non-alcoholic eggnog, though you can always make your own as well. Whichever method you choose, add a glass of eggnog and a shot of your favorite spiced rum to a saucepan and stir them together over medium heat until the mixture is hot. Pour your drink into a serving glass, top with shaved nutmeg and whipped cream, and enjoy!

If you don’t want to mess with a classic, no problem! You can also enjoy this drink chilled. Simply combine all ingredients and serve immediately. You can use the liquor of your choice, though bourbon, rum, or cognac are the most traditional.

The holiday season might typically call for hot chocolate, but after the year we’ve all experienced, upping the ante—with some festive, creative, and (at times) alcoholic beverages—is necessary. Get as involved or bare-bones as you want with these recipes. Regardless of how you make them, sit back and enjoy the warmth they bring you.

Happy Holidays!

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