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  • Natalie Taylor


On Valentines Day, aside from roses, the most popular gift is chocolate. This delicious, velvety substance is so commonplace we often forget its origins. It was the ancient Maya who first cultivated cacao beans as early as 900 AD. They called it xocolatl which means “bitter water,” and it was an accurate description of the traditional Mayan chocolate beverage. It was barely sweetened with honey, instead, the zing in the drink came from chili peppers. The Maya and later the Aztecs used xocolatl in rituals including during wedding ceremonies. A mixture of crushed cocoa beans, combined with crushed corn gruel, was served in a ceremonial clay jug during weddings. Maya couples also drank the sacred beverage on occasions of engagement and marriage. Xocolatl in its purest form was used to achieve otherworldly states of ecstatic happiness and connection. Below is a one-thousand year old hot chocolate recipe that has come down from the Maya.

MAYAN CHOCOLATE DRINK 1 cup organic goat or cow milk (almond milk may also be used) 2 tbsp. raw cocoa powder 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg 1/4 tsp. ground chili pepper 1-2 tbsp. honey Stir together cocoa and spices in a bowl. Adding a small amount of the milk, whisk into a paste. In a saucepan, heat remaining milk slowly over medium heat, making sure to remove just before boiling. Slowly add the paste to the saucepan and simmer until slightly thickened. Pour into a mug and add honey to desired sweetness.

Through the centuries Mexican people have adapted the ancient recipes of their ancestors and have created many chocolate based beverages. One such drink is atole, which is usually served for breakfast and is a special treat during Christmas.


• 3 cups water

• 1 cone piloncillo, or 5 tablespoons brown sugar

• 1/3 cup masa harina

• 1/4 cup water

• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

• 1 pinch salt

Heat water or milk in a medium-sized saucepan and add the piloncillo or sugar; cook and stir until sweetener is dissolved. Keep the heat on low to medium because this cane sugar-based sweetener tends to burn fast, giving you a burnt taste. Create the masa harina slurry by blending the masa harina with the 1/4 cup warm water. Stir vigorously to avoid clumps. Add the masa harina slurry, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt to the pot. Stir for 1 minute. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 20 to 25 minutes until thickened to the preferred consistency. Atole should be thick, creamy, and velvety, without lumps. Remove cinnamon stick and vanilla bean, if using. Pour into rustic clay mugs if you have them, or use thick ceramic glasses. Enjoy hot!

CHILATE: The state of Guerrero is noted for its population of Afro-Mexicans—descendants of African slaves brought to the New World in the 16th century. The region’s iconic and refreshing drink is called chilate. Served ice cold, the drink is a gorgeous blend of chocolate, cinnamon, rice and brown sugar.

The drink symbolizes the mixing of cultures in Mexico. Several leaders of the Independence movement, including Vicente Guerrero and José María Morelos were of African heritage. The inclusion of rice in chilate highlights the African roots of the drink.

The process for making this drink, as well as for pouring it is quite complicated. I have not personally made it, nor do I think I’m brave enough to try. It may be simpler to go to Acapulco and order it there! If you are interested in trying to make it, I suggest you follow a step by step process in the following YouTube video. Unfortunately there are no English speaking videos for chilate.



• 1 cup ice

• 2 ounces blanco tequila

• 1 ounce chocolate liqueur

• 1 ounce heavy cream or half and half

• Splash fresh orange juice

• Splash fresh lime juice

• Dash of chocolate bitters (optional)

• Garnish: sugar and cocoa powder

• Garnish: shaved chocolate

Mix equal parts of sugar and cocoa powder n a small dish until it becomes a consistent brown color. We the rim of a margarita glass with a piece of citrus fruit and roll the rim in the cocoa sugar mix to get an even coat all around. Tap off excess.

In a blender, add the ice, tequila, chocolate liqueur, cream, and bitters. Squeeze in a splash each of orange and lime juices. Blend until smooth. Pour into the prepared glass.


• 3 cups milk • 3 tbsp cocoa powder • 3 tbsp tbsp granulated sugar • Pinch salt • 1/4 tsp cinnamon • Pinch cayenne pepper • 2 oz tequila

Add all ingredients except for tequila to a small saucepan. Whisk to combine. Heat on low until mixture comes to a gentle boil, stirring. Remove from heat. Add tequila and whisk again. Divide into 3 mugs. Top each mug with marshmallows or whipped cream, sprinkle with cinnamon.


• 1.5 oz mezcal

• 1 oz coffee liqueur*

• 1 oz cream

Combine all ingredients, pour into ice filled rocks glass. Stir.

*You can simply use some espresso coffee if you don’t have coffee liqueur.


• 1 ½ oz blanca tequila

• 2 oz crème de cacao

• 1 ounce half and half

Put all the ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake until combined. Pour into small glass.


2 parts Solbeso, 3/4 part crème de cacao, 3/4 part Ancho Reyes, 1 piece press lemon. Place all ingredients in a mixing glass and add ice; shake and double strain. Serve up in a coupe glass and garnish with nutmeg.

Solbeso (literally "a kiss of sunlight") is a fairly news cacao based alcoholic drink from South America.


• 2 ounces cream liqueur (RumChata)

• 1 ounce chocolate vodka

• 1/2 ounce crème de menthe (green)

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour the Rumchata, chocolate vodka, and green crème de menthe. Shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. If you're serving it for dessert, place the glasses in the freezer while you eat. For a quick chill, place a few ice cubes in the glass while you're pouring and shaking. Have fun garnishing this martini with extra chocolate. Place a few chocolate shavings on top, or drizzle chocolate syrup into the glass then freeze it before making the drink, or go with a cocoa powder rim. You could even lay a small candy bar or chocolate cookie along the inside of the glass. If you don't have chocolate vodka, you can use clear vodka and add a chocolate liqueur. Simply split the two by pouring 1/2 ounce of each ingredient. To retain the green color, use something like white crème de cacao.

CHOCONILLA: This one is for the teetotalers!

Chocolate syrup, vanilla syrup, 2 shots espresso, milk, and whipped cream In a cocktail shaker, add two pumps of Chocolate Syrup, four pumps of Vanilla Syrup and a double shot of espresso. Add ice to the shaker and shake until cold. Fill cup to the top with ice. Pour the espresso mixture over ice. Fill to top with milk. Top with whipped cream and a bon bon of your choice. Although there’s no liquor in this recipe, who’s stopping you?

GRASSHOPPER (Saltamontes in Spanish)

• ¾ oz crème de menthe

• ¾ oz white crème de cacao

• ¼ oz heavy cream

• ½ cup of ice

Combine creme de menthe, creme de cacao, cream, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake until chilled. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.


• 6 tbsp Soma Drinking Chocolate

• ½ cup water

• ¾ cup milk

• 1 oz mezcal

• 1 cinnamon stick for garnish

• 2-3 marshmallows for garnish

Cinnamon Sugar Rim

• 1 wedge lime

• 1 tbsp sugar

• ½ tsp cinnamon

Slice a lime and run it around the rim of a heatproof mug. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small saucer or wide and shallow bowl. Dip the rim in the cinnamon sugar mix until rim is well-covered. Place the water in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring to a boil. Add 6 tbsp of Mayan drinking chocolate. Reduce heat to a simmer and whisk until thick and smooth. Add milk to liquid chocolate and whisk until they are combined and heated through, about 3-5 minutes. Add 1 oz of mezcal to the mug, pour in hot chocolate, garnish with cinnamon stick and marshmallows, as desired.


• 3 cups coconut milk beverage • 3 tbsp cocoa powder • 1 tbsp + 2 1/2 tsp sugar (I used coconut sugar) • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder • pinch of cayenne powder • 1.5 oz mezcal On a stovetop over low-medium heat, add coconut milk, cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon, chipotle powder, and cayenne and whisk together until smooth and temperature is hot. Once hot enough, add mezcal and stir. Pour into two mugs. Garnish with coconut whipped cream, cocoa nibs and cinnamon. By the way, coco is the Spanish word for coconut.


1.5 oz reposado tequila, 1 oz mezcal, 1 bar spoon agave nectar, 3 dashes Bittermens Xocolatl, Mole bitters. Add all ingredients into a shaker tin and shake thoroughly. Serve on the rocks in cocktail glass. Garnish with orange peel.


This base for cocktails is a bit work intensive and takes a few days, but well worth the effort. • 1.5 cups filtered water • 1.5 cups brown sugar • 1 cup cocoa powder • 4 oz Lindt chili flavored chocolate (chopped) • 1 tsp vanilla • Dash of salt Bring water to a boil, stir in sugar and boil till dissolved. Add vanilla and salt. Stir in cocoa powder and keep stirring till fully dissolved. Bring water to simmer. Add chocolate a bit at a time until completely melted. Cool, add equal parts of mezcal. Refrigerate 3-5 days then strain through a fine mesh sieve. You are now ready to make your cocktails. • 1 oz of CCM • 1.5 oz tequila • .75 oz sweet vermouth • Dash of orange bitters • Stir and strain into a chilled martini glass


1 ½ oz coffee liqueur • ½ oz crème de cacao or chocolate syrup • 1 oz coconut cream • 2 oz evaporated milk • Half a banana • cup of ice

Combine well in a blender and serve. Umbrellas are optional!


• 2 cups ice • ½ oz dark rum • 1 oz Kahlua • 1 oz coffee liqueur • ¼ cup heavy cream • 2-3 tablespoons chocolate syrup • ½ large banana • Whipped cream and cocoa powder for topping Combine ice, dark rum, Kahlua, cafe liqueur, heavy cream, chocolate syrup, and banana in a blender. Blend until thick and creamy. Pour into 2 small glasses or 1 large glass. Top with whipped cream before serving. Sprinkle lightly with cocoa powder, if desired.


1 oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream

• 1 oz. banana liqueur

• 1 oz coconut cream

• 2 oz. Dark Rum

• 1 Banana

• Chocolate Syrup

• 1 to 1-1/2 c. Ice

Drizzle a little chocolate syrup around the inside of a martini glass and place in freezer for 5 minutes. Blend first 5 ingredients in a blender until smooth, pour the mix slowly in the center of the glass.


If you don’t feel like mixing drinks, no problem, there is an incredible variety of liqueurs made from the cocoa plant. With them, all you need is a glass in which to pour. Following are some of the best known and some that are unique. And they are not all from Mexico, chocolate in all its forms is a global phenomenon. By the way, cacao refers to the plant and the raw beans that it generates. Cocoa, on the other hand, is the powder extracted from the roasted bean.

Xiocolat: A Mexican chocolate liqueur that’s thick and rich. Great on its own either neat or poured on ice.

Solbeso: A most interesting, new drink made with cacao fruit grown in Peru and Ecuador. Rather than using the cacao bean, which is what is used in making chocolate, the fruit is collected, fermented and distilled at the source. This needs to be done because it’s highly perishable. It's then blended and bottled in Bardstown, Kentucky. A light, fruity spirit, with wafts of orange peel, flowers and a touch of dark chocolate. A bit like tequila, a bit like pisco, a bit like rum—with thick floral flavors laced with nutty undertones.

Tempus Fugit (Time Flies): Made in Italy from a 19th century recipe, Tempus Fugit's Creme de Cacao is a thick and sweet liquid, rich with vanilla and cacao notes. Because it's quite concentrated, it’s usually served with soda water or in a cocktail, with other ingredients. • Patron XO cafe: With a balanced combination of coffee, cacao, and tequila this Mexican liqueur is sweet with a kick. The dry, low- proof coffee and chocolate combination delivers a perfect digestif, or cocktail ingredient.

Dorda: This Polish liqueur is made by blending fine dark chocolate with milk and Chopin Rye Vodka. It’s great served neat, on ice or in a cocktail. For a special indulgence, top it with ice cream, a spoonful of whipped cream and a cherry on top! No need to serve your guests dessert. I can’t imagine any beverage more decadent than this.

Bottega Nero Cioccolato Gianduia: Here is a drink for Nutella fans. It’s made from Italian grappa, and the velvety chocolate and hazelnut flavors make it even better than the popular spread. You can start with Nutella spread on your toast in the morning, and complete the day with a nightcap of this lovely liqueur.

Godiva Dark Chocolate: The Godiva brand is synonymous with chocolate. The Belgian company has been producing fine sweets since 1926 and this liqueur is the perfect combination of unsweetened dark chocolate, black cherry, candied orange peel, and a dash of cold-brewed coffee. It’s wonderful served neat as an after dinner drink, or mixed into a cocktail.

Bailey’s Chocolate Cherry: Strawberries and cream…French fries and ketchup…How about cherry and chocolate? Another match made in heaven. This particular liqueur does just that, it blends luscious chocolate and cherry flavors into a rich and indulgent beverage.

You can have it in coffee, add it to hot chocolate, or pour it over ice cream.

Eastside Holiday Peppermint Bark Liqueur: Here is an unusual combination for flavor adventurers—peppermint bark in a liquid version. This particular beverage is made in Portland, Oregon and combines extra-dark French cocoa with real peppermint extract.

Peppermint is like cilantro, you either love it or you hate it. So if you happen to be partial to it, this might be an interesting beverage to try.

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