Warm up This Winter With Cocoa Bombs & Spiked Beverages

Here’s where to indulge locally
Play up your cup of hot chocolate at home with cocoa bombs from Sarah’s Cookie Jar in Huntington Woods (sarahscookiejar.com for orders) and The Home Cakery in Novi ($5-$7 each).

What could be more comforting than hot chocolate? Not much, especially if that hot chocolate comes in a hot cocoa bomb. This confection is made up of a decorated hollow chocolate shell filled with hot cocoa mix and other flavorings and packed with mini marshmallows. Pour hot milk or water over the top, and the marshmallows blossom into your cup. This cupful of delight was invented in 2019 by Eric Torres Garcia in Boise, Idaho, and rocketed to popularity thanks to TikTok, with the video-focused social media platform being the perfect way to show off 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. In metro Detroit, that included Detroit Sugar Cookie, So Delish in Livonia, and Homestead Kitchen in Westland. Holiday demand was so hot that many shops had a hard time keeping the coveted bombs in stock.

If you can get your hands on a cocoa bomb (or just a mug of regular hot cocoa), consider indulging both your inner child and your grown-up self by spiking your beverage. Tip in a little whiskey from Motor City Gas in Royal Oak or Detroit City Distillery. Cabresto Tequila would be a great addition to a peppermint-flavored hot cocoa bomb. Or, spice things up with some Ginger Devil from Rusted Crow Spirits in Dearborn Heights.

Another surprisingly delicious addition to hot chocolate is Green Chartreuse. The monk-made French liqueur is key to one of Detroit’s most iconic cocktails, The Last Word, invented at the Detroit Athletic Club in 1916. That drink is great for summer, with an equal-parts formula of gin, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice joining the herbal complexity of Green Chartreuse. But if you have a bottle of Green Chartreuse lingering in your liquor cabinet, a steaming mug of Green Chaud is a more season-friendly way to enjoy it. It’s a common après-ski drink in the Alps, so imagine yourself in a ski lodge and take a trip in your glass. 

Closer to home, Berkley Common has created its own winter lodge experience. You can book a heated igloo for private dining or snuggle up with lodge-provided blankets around the fire on the restaurant’s “winter wonderland” patio. Sip on Grandma’s Hot Chocolate, featuring white chocolate and raspberry liqueur, or — for the rare few who don’t like chocolate — mulled wine. If you’re feeling warm enough from the fire or your igloo heater, you could also indulge in the Bandit, a bacon fat-washed old fashioned served in a smoke-filled dome. 

The Monarch Club also has private igloos available for reservation at the Club’s rooftop location in downtown Detroit. The Xocolate Bar harks back to the original chocolate drink from Mexico, with the addition of sweet and spicy Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur. 

Spiked hot chocolate isn’t the only alcoholic way to keep warm, of course. Michigan-based Cask and Kettle makes pods that fit into a Keurig machine to create an instant mug of spiked coffee, with varieties including Irish, Mexican, and Mint Patty. 

With so much of our socializing moving outdoors this winter, hot beverages — spiked or not — are more essential than ever to keep hands and insides warm. They’re also just comforting at a time when lots of people are looking for, well, comfort. 

Tammy Coxen is chief tasting officer of Tammy’s Tastings, offering online classes for cocktail connoisseurs. She appears on Michigan Radio’s cocktail segment Cheers! and is the co-author of the book Cheers to Michigan: A Celebration of Cocktail Culture and Craft Distillers (University of Michigan Press, 2019).