Highland Park Hot Chocolate

Think the northern-most distillery in the world, not the St. Paul neighborhood

Highland Hot Chocolate served in a mug on a serving tray, complete with a bottle of Magnus and marshmallows to the side. Courtesy Highland Park.
Courtesy Highland Park

Winter may be a little touch and go, but when it comes back with a vengeance, Highland Park has you covered with a hot chocolate recipe that has some hair of the dog mixed in. While the name usually stirs images of the neighborhood in St. Paul, I’m talking much more north. Like, the northernmost distillery in the world in Orkney, an island off of Scotland, north. 

Highland Park has been making scotch “with Viking soul” since 1798—Orkney was ruled by Vikings through 1468, Highland Park’s founder was a direct Viking descendant, and the current team is proud of their Vikings roots. Now, a little over 200 years after it was founded, the distillerly has slowly but surely been introducing itself to its fellow Viking brethren over here in Minnesota. You might have tried the scotch at the pop-up bars they’ve had at our Vikings home games—they’ll be back next NFL season—or simply through a fellow whiskey lover. Either way, they’re not turning back on their expedition to the North Star State anytime soon. 

Before I go on, let me share with you the Highland Hot Chocolate recipe created by Lauren McDougall, the cocktail director and beverage manager at the Great Northern Food Hall in New York. We tried making it with the help of a cocktail pack sent over by Highland Park (pictured below), and I believe the most poetic phrase that was uttered was something akin to, “It’s like that good, burnt taste you get from s’mores but in liquid flavor.” It seemed that the Magnus single malt scotch whisky had a smooth enough finish to pair well with the hot chocolate, but we can let you decide. 

A photo of the cocktail kit from Highland Park. Photo by Mike Berger.Highland Hot Chocolate

Makes 1 serving

1 packet of hot cocoa mixed
6 ounces of water
1 1/2 ounces Highland Park Magnus
large marshmallows
coarse brown sugar
pinch of salt

Bring water to a boil and blend with hot cocoa mix in the provided mug. Add Highland Park Magnus and a tiny pinch of salt. In a small dish, take there large marshmallows and coat with Magnus using a pastry brush, then dip the marshmallows into coarse brown sugar. Torch with lighter or over open flame, then place on prepared hot cocoa. 

Writer’s Note: We made a slightly degraded version of this and instead microwaved our water for three minutes, didn’t torch our marshmallows, didn’t measure anything, and forgot to add the salt. On the upside, even if you slander the recipe’s integrity like we did, it’ll still taste good. Perhaps what helped saved us was that the cocktail pack had Ghiradelli hot chocolate mix. 

Naturally, after we sampled the hot chocolate, we tried some of the scotch itself. People can expound about the flavor of scotch, but to keep it succinct, naturally the 12-year-old bottle of Viking Honour we had gave off much more of that smoky, peaty aftertaste. Other friends of mine who sampled it insisted it was almost no peat and more woody notes. This discrepancy is really just a nod to the complex flavors that Highland Park’s distilling process, nearly 4,000-year-old heathery peat, and cask harmonization (mixing the creme de la creme of the batch) creates. The Magnus had much less of the after taste but a similar even burn. To non-whisky lovers, this is a great quality and makes for a good mixer. To those who do like whisky, it is, as one of my taste testers said, mild but solid.

Whatever your whisky preferences, here’s to you and here’s to beverages that can make the winters a little warmer.