Spiked Hot Chocolate – Verte Chaud

Perfect on Christmas Eve

Your cocktail calendar entry for: December
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Today we’re mixing up a spiked hot chocolate, Verte Chaud.  After all, it’s cold and dark outside so something warm is appropriate, and everyone in the family needs a nice drink on Christmas Eve.  Santa’s origins go back to a monk named St. Nicholas who lived almost two thousand years ago, so we turn to the work of some other beloved monks and use one of the oldest continuously produced spirits available – Chartreuse.  It pairs beautifully with chocolate, so we’ll bring it all together.

The obvious thing to do on Christmas Eve is to track Santa’s journey through the NORAD Santa Tracker.  Or call in for Santa questions or to get the lowdown on location at any moment.  The whole thing actually started as a fluke but has grown into a massive volunteer operation

The Santa Tracker

President Dwight Eisenhower formed the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) in 1954 to provide early warning of an aerial attack.  The Cold War was raging, and on the last day in November, 1955, the dreaded red phone rang inside the operations center.  A call on that line likely meant that an attack was imminent, and the commanding officer did not expect it to be good news.

Answering the phone and barking “Yes, sir, this is Colonel Shoup” he met silence.  He repeated.  Still nothing.  Slowly there was a surprising, meek reply; “Are you really Santa Claus?”

He was not amused, thinking that some prankster was messing with official defense operations.  He asked sternly for the response to be repeated, but realized it was not a prank when he heard a small child sobbing.

Colonel Shoup, a ramrod military man but with a soft spot for Christmas switched to Santa mode and listened to a Christmas wish list.  He even threw in a few Ho-ho-hos! for good measure before asking to speak to the caller’s mother.

The mother informed Colonel Shoup that the phone number was listed in a Sears Roebuck advertisement in their Colorado Springs newspaper.  The ad depicted Santa and an invitation to call on his private phone line.  There was only one problem.  They had one digit wrong and supplied the top-secret Department of Defense number for CONAD’s hotline.

How it Played Out

Shoup called AT&T to give Sears that phone number and get him a new one.  In the meantime he had his servicemen answer the calls, which kept coming and coming.  When Shoup went to distribute cookies to his airmen on Christmas Eve he looked up at the three-story tall map of North America in the operations center.  Someone had sketched Santa’s Sleigh descending from the North Pole.  The idea for the Santa Tracker was born, even without the help of spiked hot chocolate.

CONAD issued a press release on Christmas Eve letting “good little boys and girls” know it was tracking a big sleigh approaching from the North Pole, traveling at 45 knots and an altitude of 35,000 feet.  Shoup called a radio station to report that CONAD had spotted an unidentified flying object that looked like a sleigh.  The wires went nuts, radio stations called in for updates and it got bigger every year.

In 1958 the responsibility for the Santa Tracker was shifted to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).  Nowadays it’s online, with the NORAD Tracks Santa website.  And naturally, there’s an app for it.

Verte Chaud

Verte Chaud, or “hot green” is a longstanding aprés-ski drink in the French Alps.  This makes sense, of course, as Chartreuse is made nearby in the French Prealps.

We’ve discussed Chartreuse each May 16 for World Chartreuse Day, so you can go back and read up on its history there.  We’ve also used it more recently in drinks like the Armistice Cocktail and the Piña Verde.

The Verte Chaud is one of the simplest drinks we’ve named as Drink of the Day.  It’s really just hot chocolate spiked with Chartreuse, though a dollop of whipped cream or a marshmallow are highly recommended.  This is truly a case of the whole being more than the sum of its parts.  The herbal elements of Chartreuse work brilliantly with chocolate, and on a cold evening it’s perfect for the whole family as you track Santa’s progress online.

Spiked Hot Chocolate Verte Chaud

Verte Chaud

Verte Chaud, or "hot green" is a classic apres-ski drink in the French Alps and a fantastic rendition of spiked hot chocolate. Chocolate and Chartreuse is hardly a new invention. This combination was well established long before the word cocktail became part of the vernacular, though we don't know if the idea came from one of the booze-making monks at the Grand Chartreuse. Either way, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and we highly recommend.
5 from 1 vote


  • 2 oz Chartreuse We're talking about the original, green Chartreuse. Not the sweeter yellow Chartreuse.
  • 6 oz Hot Chocolate Store bought mix
  • or for four servings of hot chocolate:
  • 3 cups Whole milk
  • 8 oz Semi sweet chocolate
  • 3 tbsp Brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Garnish: whipped cream


  • Prepare hot chocolate according to package directions if using store bought mix.
  • If making your own hot chocolate place milk in saucepan over medium heat.
  • Chop semi sweet chocolate and add to milk.
  • Whisk to combine and melt chocolate. Add pinch of salt and brown sugar. Stir.
  • Pour 6 oz of hot chocolate into each mug.
  • Add 2 oz of Chartreuse to each mug.
  • Top with whipped cream.
  • Drink.
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