Spirit of the Season

With Halloween fast approaching, we all have an excellent excuse to indulge in our favourite chocolatey sweets. While there’s definitely no shame in buying cartloads of candy supposedly intended for trick-or-treaters – or in throwing together a last-minute costume and going door to door yourself – here are some less drastic ways of satiating both your chocolate and cocktail cravings without having to brave the spooky Sackville streets.
The first and most versatile cocktail to try is the classic “spiked” hot chocolate. Whether you add a simple dash of Bailey’s or an elaborate array of liqueurs is up to you—but personally I’d recommend an “after eight,” a luscious blend of equal parts crème de cacao and crème de menthe poured into your favourite cup of hot chocolate. If peppermint isn’t your style, hazelnut enthusiasts can stir a teaspoon of Nutella and a three-quarter ounce each of spiced whisky and Frangelico into their hot drink. Finally, lovers of the pervasive fall pumpkin flavours should procure a bottle of pumpkin liqueur – or pumpkin spice Kahlua – and add generously to their late-night chocolatey treat.
For added flair in any or all of these drinks, substitute coffee for hot water to create a delicious boozy mocha, or top with marshmallows or whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. To channel the Mesoamerican birthplace of drinkable chocolate, mix powdered cinnamon, cayenne pepper and cocoa powder with a bit of cane or agave sugar before adding hot water and an ounce of tequila añejo or its smokier cousin, mezcal.
As always, top-shelf cocktails are always available for those who prefer their drinks elegant and served in stemmed glassware. For a seasonal treat, mix up a brandy Alexander: two parts brandy or cognac with one part crème de cacao and one part half-and-half cream. Pour the cocktail into a chilled martini glass and dust liberally with nutmeg; this smooth and spicy beverage tastes great as a holiday dessert, or as a unique drink shared between two friends (à la Feist and Ron Sexsmith). If you’re up for something even stronger, try shaking up a classic chocolate martini – two parts vodka to one part crème de cacao, complete with a cocoa-rimmed glass – and experiment with various flavoured vodkas to your heart’s content.
Beer lovers may already be familiar with the chocolate stout, but a glass of this already perfect drink can be further improved with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Decorate your “stout float” with a drizzling of Kahlua, Godiva white chocolate liqueur, or a few chocolate chips for a delectably sweet and frothy dessert.

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