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The history of hot chocolate dates back to Aztecs and Mayans, but it was the Spanish who first experimented with adding sugar and milk, in addition to a host of modifiers, including cinnamon, orange peel, and even ambergris, to spice it up. Though this sweet after-dinner drink is not often thought of as being particularly masculine, cacao was once reserved for warriors and kings centuries ago, perhaps because the nibs themselves purportedly increase testosterone.

Spirited variations on the hot chocolate can take many forms, and at NYC’s White Street, barman Chris Cardone avoids the typical pitfalls that make dessert cocktails overly cloying with the McCoy cocktail. It starts with with Highland Park Dark Origins, a smoky, dried-fruit-laden single malt aged in sherry casks, and adds a PX sherry, layering sophisticated notes of barrel, berries and cinnamon over the chef’s own rich mixture of chocolate and whole milk.

A modern take on a classic, the scotch-driven McCoy certainly makes for an invigorating, even romantic way to close out a meal before heading back out into the cold.