Every September, people start to talk about football weather. The air is crisp, the days get shorter and leaves begin to change. Wool blankets and hoodies and sweaters and letter jackets all worn with a jaunty scarf.
Barf. That is J.Crew football weather. That is Ralph Lauren and Lincoln Parkers at Solider Field tailgating. It is the lightness and hope of a new season before the clouds and grind settles in.
The end of October. It is legitimately cold during the day and freezing at night. Frost even hits the south. Leaves are disappearing from the trees and the forecasts mention freezing rain and snow. In my mind, this is the true start of football weather. Thermal underwear, turtleneck, jersey, sweater, jacket, heat packs in your gloves and in your boots football weather.
And a stiff hot drink to help you stay warm.
Spicy Boozy Cafe Mocha For Tailgating (And Trick-Or-Treating*)
This drink was inspired by my buddy Josh in Albuquerque who one day last year talked about having a really good chile mocha on a cold morning. Of course you could booze that baby up for tailgating. Of course you want to. The heat from the chile reaches down into your bones while the cinnamon makes the chocolate feel fuller, warmer. The Kahlua brings an extra richness to the espresso while the tequila takes you full circle, bringing you right back to the chile and the cinnamon.
Now if you happen to live in an area where you can readily buy Mexican hot chocolate tablets you melt with the milk and the sugar (and mesa if your really going for something authentic), feel free to adjust the recipe to use the melting tablets instead. Since most of the country unfortunately does not have those magical wheels of chocolate at their local grocery store, I choose to use cocoa powder in this recipe instead.
As listed, this recipe yields two very strong drinks, but is it easily multiplied for the number of beverages you are making.
You will need:
4 ounces brewed espresso or very strong coffee
4 ounces tequila
2 ounces Kahlua
2 cups milk
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground chipotle chile (use ground ancho chile for milder heat)
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (optional, but it really rounds out the drink nicely)
Pinch of kosher salt
In two glasses, put 2 ounces each of espresso and tequila, then 1 ounce of Kahlua and stir together.
In a medium sauce pan (or a very large one if making more than four drinks), start to gently heat the milk over medium heat, whisking briskly. In a liquid measuring cup, mix together the cocoa powder, sugar, spices and salt. Once the milk starts to get warm, pour a small amount into the measuring cup with the cocoa mixture and stir, adding a more milk as needed to make a slurry. This will help prevent lumps in your beverage. Once you have thick sauce, pour everything back into the sauce pan and keep whisking until the milk starts to steam and bubble.
If you have whisked enough, there is no need to keep making froth, but if you are the type of person who likes lots of air in your steamed milk with extra foam, either use an immersion blender to whip the milk even further or carefully run through the blender for a minute.
Carefully pour the steamed cocoa over your espresso, tequila and Kahlua mixture. Sprinkle with either cinnamon or cocoa and serve, or pour in thermos for later.
*I have a lot of friends who either serve drinks to the adults taking their kids trick-or-treating or bring along a thermos for themselves; coffee to keep them warm, booze to temper the “BUT I DON’T WANT TO WEAR MY COAT OVER MY COSTUME” tears. This drink is perfectly suited for those needs in addition to any tailgating fuel you may need.