What could be more comforting than hot chocolate? Not much, especially if the hot chocolate comes in a hot cocoa bomb. This confection consists of a decorated hollow chocolate shell filled with hot cocoa mixture and other flavors and packed with mini marshmallows. Pour warm milk or water over the top and the marshmallows will bloom in your cup. This cup full of joy was invented in 2019 by Eric Torres Garcia in Boise, Idaho, and rose to popularity thanks to TikTok, where the video-focused social media platform is the perfect way to showcase his creation.
While the hot cocoa bomb trend started in Idaho, it quickly spread around the country, with many small businesses creating their own versions to meet demand. At Detroit Subway Station, it included Detroit Sugar Cookie, So Delish in Livonia, and Homestead Kitchen in Westland. The holiday demand was so great that many stores had a hard time keeping the coveted bombs in stock.
If you can get your fingers in a cocoa bomb (or just a mug of plain hot cocoa), consider pampering both your inner child and your adult self by nailing your drink. Drizzle in some whiskey from Motor City Gas at the Royal Oak or Detroit City Distillery. Cabresto Tequila would be a great addition to a hot cocoa bomb with peppermint flavor. Or spice things up with some Ginger Devil from Rusted Crow Spirits in Dearborn Heights.
Another surprisingly delicious addition to hot chocolate is the Green Chartreuse. The monk-made French liqueur is the key to one of Detroit’s most iconic cocktails, The Last Word, invented at the Detroit Athletic Club in 1916. This drink is great for summer with an equal parts formula of gin, maraschino liqueur and lime juice that joins the herbal complexity of Green Chartreuse. But if you have a bottle of Green Chartreuse in your liquor cabinet, a steaming mug of Green Chaud is a more seasonal way to enjoy it. It is a common après-ski drink in the Alps, so imagine yourself in a ski hut and take a trip in your glass.
Closer to home, Berkley Common has created its own winter lodge experience. You can order a heated igloo for private dining or cuddle with lodge blankets around the fire in the restaurant’s “winter wonderland” courtyard. Enjoy Grandma’s hot chocolate with white chocolate and raspberry liqueur, or – for the few rare who do not like chocolate – mulled wine. If you feel warm enough from the fire or your igloo warmer, you can also enjoy Bandit, a bacon-fat-washed old-fashioned, served in a smoky dome.
The Monarch Club also has private igloos available for reservation on the club’s rooftop terrace in downtown Detroit. Xocolate Bar goes back to the original chocolate drink from Mexico, with the addition of sweet and spicy Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur.
Of course, spiked hot chocolate is not the only alcoholic way to keep warm. Michigan-based Cask and Kettle makes pods that fit into a Keurig machine to create an instant mug of spiced coffee, with flavors including Irish, Mexican and mint patty.
With so much of our socializing moving outdoors this winter, hot drinks – with tips or not – are more important than ever before to keep hands and inner warmth. They are also just comforting at a time when many people are looking for, well, comfort.
Tammy Coxen is taste manager for Tammy’s Tastings, and offers online courses for cocktail connoisseurs. She performs on Michigan Radio’s cocktail segment Cheers! and co-author of the book Cheers to Michigan: A Celebration of Cocktail Culture and Craft Distillers (University of Michigan Press, 2019).