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It’s February, which means it’s still cold and dark outside. On the upside, winter is nearing its end, the coldest days are behind us (we hope) and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Plus we can all rejoice in the reality that cold winter days are an excuse to add alcohol to almost anything. In this case: hot cocoa.

With every recipe, I try to stay local for most of the ingredients. This one proved a little tough, but I managed to find hot chocolate from Sillycow Farms out of Vermont, which is still New England, so it counts. I am “lactose inconvenienced,” as I like to say, and never drink or purchase milk, but this was a special occasion so I decided to go all-out and bought a pint of unpasteurized whole milk from Winter Hill Farm out of Freeport. But the big local winner here was the Stroudwater Distillery rye whiskey. I was impressed by how mature it tasted for a whiskey coming out of Maine. Adding just one ounce to the hot cocoa was enough for an absolutely delicious steamy drink, but if you need a boost, do what I did and add another ounce.

ADULT HOT COCOA

Heat a cup of milk on the stove in a small pot.
Add in 3 heaping teaspoons of cocoa (or just follow the directions on the packaging) and keep stirring.

Pour into a mug and add:
1 to 2 ounces Stroudwater Distillery rye whiskey
One-half ounce Solerno blood orange liqueur
One-half ounce Disaronno
A dash of Coastal Root coffee bitters

Top with:
Whipped cream
A dusting of Vervacious Vietnamese cinnamon

Jessie Lacey moved to Portland from Bangor 10 years with her dog/BFF Twobit the border collie, and currently lives downtown with her boyfriend. She spends whatever free time she has making dresses, cocktails, art and trouble.

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