Chocolate Holiday Drink

Thanksgiving Table Setting.jpg

First off, I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. J’Ann and I were blessed to have our daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters, plus my business partner Doug Sacarto and his wife Lisa, join us for one of J’Ann’s super great holiday meals. Of course the traditional turkey was center table.

To accompany the turkey, we had Spinach Madeline, green bean casserole, two potato dishes, and two different cranberry relishes, along with hot crescent rolls and gluten-free cornbread stuffing (surprising to me, it was delicious). We actually had two turkeys--one was deep fried and the other smoked. In the desert category, J’Ann whipped up pumpkin custard, and we had a mixed berry pie and a gluten-free cherry pie.

For drinks, my collection of spirits was open for everyone’s use. Doug and Lisa brought some of their favorite eggnog. And to help top off J’Ann’s fine meal, I also wanted to serve a special holiday cocktail. Lisa had earlier sent me just the one I needed, called Chocolate Pumpkin Smash, which had been presented by Anita Schecter on October 10, 2018, at Anita originally constructed this piece of decadence as a Halloween offering. But it worked just great as a Thanksgiving treat. And with the whiskey substitution I make in the recipe (below), I highly recommend this cocktail for your upcoming holiday celebrations!

Chocolate Pumpkin Smash—With Scotch

The base spirit in Anita’s recipe is bourbon. J’Ann is a scotch drinker, however, so I wanted to try the recipe with that spirit. But which one? The question was solved quickly because soon after Thanksgiving we wanted to share this cocktail with one of our close friends, who is a Laphroaig 10 geek. But does L-10 work in this cocktail for sipping with turkey and other rich holiday offerings?

The answer is a definitive yes! The sweet nuttiness of the barley and very smoky flavor profile of L-10 marries well with turkey, whether deep fried, roasted or smoked. Its earthy aroma also enhances the richness of the cocktail's chocolate and coffee liqueurs. One of the things I liked about using L-10 is that it tones down the drink's sweetness, just a bit, compared to using bourbon, so it's easy to enjoy along with dinner and not purely as a desert drink.

Just as I changed the basic spirit in this recipe, so can you. If you want to make this a Rocky Mountain holiday cocktail, go to the product table in our Guidebook to Whiskey and Other Distilled Spirits in Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming and check the list of scotch-style products. Select one and give it a go. (Please let me know how you experimented and the results). Also, I want to point out that the coffee liqueur I used was from one of the 63 featured companies in the Guidebook—Colorado’s CopperMuse Distillery in Fort Collins—delicious!


  • 1 oz Bourbon or Scotch

  • 1/2 oz Chocolate liqueur

  • 1/2 oz Coffee liqueur

  • 1/2 oz Crème de cacao

  • 1 oz Unsweetened pumpkin puree

  • 2 oz Milk

  • Pinch of cinnamon

  • Ice

For the rim: Use 1 tablespoon of corn syrup or make up a bit of simple syrup.

Anita Schecter recommended as a source for rimming sugar. I like the site because it gives information not only on a variety of rimming sugars, but also some great tips about making cocktails. Having said all that, if you don't have custom rimming sugars on hand, you can improvise (like we did!) and use a 50/50 mix of granulated sugar and cinnamon. It worked perfectly.


Pour a tablespoon or two of the rimming sugar into a shallow bowl. Brush the edges of a cocktail glass with the corn syrup (or simple syrup) and roll in the rimming sugar. Place in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up while you make the drink.

Add the scotch (or bourbon), chocolate liqueur, coffee liqueur, crème de cacao, pumpkin puree, milk and cinnamon to a cocktail shaker.

Muddle the puree until it's dissolved into the liquid, fill with ice and shake well. Pour into the prepared glass.

Have a wonderful Holiday Season!

Keep the wind to your back and a smile on your face.

— Howell F. Wright