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Desserts That Are (Literally) Intoxicating

Consider yourself on the naughty and nice list.

Donuts made with butterscotch whiskey? Cheers to that.

Donuts made with butterscotch whiskey? Cheers to that. PHOTO: Courtesy of The Doughnut Project

There’s always a stiff martini or classic Manhattan ready to be crafted and sipped, but sometimes you simply want to marry your spirits with another favorite: dessert. This is especially true around the holidays, when treats are a must-have at all your friendly gatherings

But remember: Some of these alcoholic desserts can give you a buzz—particularly the cocktails—so please enjoy responsibly.

These adult treats can be a fun way to break the ice while your guests are arriving and getting to know each other or reconnect if they haven’t seen each other in a while. Browse our list of boozy desserts that are sure to get the party started. 

From a spiked peppermint milkshake to beer-infused brownies, these boozy treats are ready to satisfy your sweet tooth! (And they’ll look lovely displayed on your bar cart, too.)


Bourbon Hot Chocolate

Bourbon Hot Chocolate

Photo: Courtesy of Butcher & Banker

This bourbon-spiked hot chocolate was created by Scott Campbell, the executive chef of Butcher & Banker in New York City. He says, “It’s a French-style hot chocolate, which works extraordinarily well with spirits. It takes the deep freeze of winter out of your soul, and the bourbon takes you to another universe.” This alcoholic dessert is truly out of this world and is a grownup way to elevate this cozy drink.

1 quart whole milk
2 ounces Valrhona cocoa powder
1 ounce sugar
3 ounces Valrhona chocolate
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 ounces bourbon

Pour milk and cocoa powder into a saucepot and bring to a simmer, then add sugar. Reduce heat to very low and add chocolate and vanilla, stirring occasionally until melted, about 3 to 5 minutes. Once chocolate is melted and sugar is dissolved, strain into a mug. Finish with a shot of bourbon before serving.


Rum-Infused Tiramisu

Rum-Infused Tiramisu

Photo: Courtesy of Joseph’s NYC

You better believe we have tiramisu on this list. Bonus points for this particular recipe, created by chef Rigoberto Avendaño Mendoza of Joseph’s NYC, for being super easy to whip up and for the inclusion of flavorful rum. The alcohol in this dessert, mingled with the coffee, makes for a comforting and invigorating treat.

30 to 35 ladyfingers
½ cup cocoa powder
Powdered sugar, for garnish (optional)

For Rum Coffee Syrup

1½ cups brewed coffee
6 ounces espresso
3 tablespoons sugar in the raw
½ cup black rum
¼ cup warm water

Combine all syrup ingredients and set aside, allowing the sugar to dissolve.

For Mascarpone Cream
¾ cup sugar
5 egg yolks
32 ounces mascarpone cream
5 tablespoons heavy cream

Whisk sugar and egg yolks until light yellow and foamy, about 10 minutes at high speed. Add the cheese and heavy cream and whisk until it looks like whipped cream, about 10 minutes.

To assemble:
Soak each ladyfinger in coffee syrup for about 5 seconds, then gently drain excess and place in a glass dish until the entire bottom is covered. Use a spatula to spread a layer of whipped mascarpone on top, then repeat until mascarpone is gone. Chill for at least 3 hours, or overnight, and serve cold. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.


Cream Ale Brownies

Cream Ale Brownies

Photo: Courtesy of Braxton Brewing Co.

Is there really anything more soul-satisfying than a batch of warm brownies? Yes, there is: warm brownies made with a creamy ale. This thick, fudge-y, and boozy dessert comes from Jake Rouse, co-founder of the Kentucky-based Braxton Brewing Co.

1½ cup flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup canola oil
4 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup Braxton Brewing Storm Golden Cream Ale
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray a 9″-x-9″ baking pan. Combine flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and oil. Combine and then add the melted butter and beer, followed by ⅔ of the chocolate chips. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into your prepared pan, cover with remaining chocolate chips, and bake for approximately 30 minutes, until the brownies are slightly firm. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.


Candy Cane Milkshake

Candy Cane Milkshake

Photo: Courtesy of Graeter’s Ice Cream

If you’re craving something cooler as you relax by the fire, perhaps this alcoholic milkshake will do the trick. This dessert was dreamed up by Steve Hellmich, who serves as the candy production manager (what a job!) for Graeter’s Ice Cream. “Boozy, swirling with vodka, and highlighted by sweet ice cream and bittersweet chocolate, this recipe is a surefire way to bring warmth to the holiday season,” he tells us.

1 crushed candy cane
2 scoops of Graeter’s Peppermint Stick Ice Cream
1 ounce vodka
2 ounces Graeter’s Bittersweet Chocolate Dessert Sauce
Whipped cream, for garnish

Wet the rim of a rocks glass and roll in crushed peppermint. Lightly mix together the ice cream and vodka (either by hand or blender), then pour into glass. Top with chocolate sauce, a dash of crushed peppermint, and whipped cream.


Cherry Fireball Cheesecake Shots

Cherry Fireball Cheesecake Shots

Photo: Courtesy of Phylicious Cheesecakes

Get the party started with this yummy recipe from celebrity chef Phylicia Renae, who was happy to share some of her secrets with us. The inclusion of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky makes for a warm and alcoholic surprise in an otherwise traditional dessert.

For Topping
21-ounce can cherry pie filling
4 ounces Fireball Cinnamon Whisky

Combine, stir well, and set aside.

For Crust
½ cup graham cracker crumbs
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅓ cup butter, melted

Combine graham crackers crumbs, brown sugar, melted butter, nutmeg, and cinnamon together in a bowl. Stir until graham crackers are well-coated. Set aside.

For Cheesecake
16 ounces cream cheese
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 pint heavy cream
2 ounces Fireball Cinnamon Whisky
½ cup white sugar

In a mixer, combine cream cheese and lemon juice and mix until smooth. Add cream and whiskey until incorporated, then the white sugar. Mix well.

To assemble:
Press graham cracker mixture into bottom of shot glasses. Top with enough of the cheesecake to fill the cup about ¾ full. Place a tablespoon of cherry pie topping on top, then finish with a dollop of whipped cream. Cherry garnish optional. Chill until you’re ready to serve.


Grand Marnier Frozen Berry Pie

Grand Marnier Frozen Berry Pie

Photo: Courtesy of Wholly Wholesome

This tasty and approachable recipe—created by Doon Wintz, the founder of Wholly Wholesome—transforms simple ingredients into a spirited, alcoholic dessert. The fact that it isn’t baked means one fewer step for you (and a bolder hint of Grand Marnier). It also uses a premade pie crust, which makes life easier, too.

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
3 teaspoons Grand Marnier
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
9” Wholly Wholesome Organic Pie Shell
2 pints vanilla frozen yogurt, slightly softened

Combine half of the blueberries, 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier, and 1 teaspoon sugar in a small bowl and mash with a fork until saucy, but chunky. Spread the mixture evenly in your pre-baked pie crust and top with an even layer of frozen yogurt. Cover with a freezer-safe wrap and freeze overnight. When ready to serve, let the pie sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, toss remaining berries, liquor, and sugar in a small bowl. Serve slices with a healthy spoonful of the boozy berries drizzled on top.


Pumpkin Pie Martini

Pumpkin Pie Martini

Photo: Courtesy of Elegant Affairs

For another spin on boozy pie, consider this dessert cocktail from Elegant Affairs catering company. “Same old pumpkin pie is ordinary,” says founder Andrea Correale, speaking about this alcoholic beverage. “This is a unique way to make sure your pumpkin pie is present while kicking it up a notch!”

1½ ounces vanilla vodka
1 ounce spiced rum
1 ounce Domaine de Canton
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon ground pumpkin pie spice
1 cup marshmallow cream or whipped cream, for garnish

Combine vodka, rum, Domaine de Canton, and pumpkin puree into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well, then double strain into a martini glass rimmed with sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Garnish with marshmallow or whipped cream.


Butterscotch Whisky Doughnuts

Butterscotch Whiskey Doughnuts

Photo: Courtesy of The Doughnut Project

We pulled some strings to get you the recipe for the Cotswolds Distillery Butterscotch Whiskey Doughnut from The Doughnut Project in NYC, but it was so worth it. The recipe, adapted from their original for at-home cooks, comes from chef-owner Leslie Polizzotto and is ideal for the pastry whiz looking for a holiday dessert challenge. “Whiskey and butterscotch are a perfect pair, and the notes of the Cotswolds Distillery’s single malt come through and highlight the flavors of the butterscotch,” Polizzotto tells us.

For Doughnuts
1 package active dry yeast (2½ teaspoons)
⅔ cup milk, room temperature
3½ cups flour
⅓ cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 8 pieces
Canola oil for frying
6 tablespoons heavy cream

In an electric mixer with a dough hook, stir yeast and milk. Let the yeast dissolve for about 1 minute, then add flour, sugar, salt, and eggs. Mix on low until dough forms (about 1 minute) and continue mixing for an additional 3 minutes. Add butter a few pieces at a time, mixing after each addition until butter is fully incorporated and dough is soft (about 5 minutes). Remove the dough and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 6 hours and up to 15 hours.

Roll dough onto a floured surface and cut into 12-inch squares, about ½-inch thick. Use a 3- to 4-inch biscuit cutter to cut out doughnuts. Transfer to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap; let stand in a warm spot until they’ve doubled in height and feel pillowy (about 2 to 3 hours).

Fill a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan with oil to a depth of 3 inches and heat over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in batches, place doughnuts in the hot oil, taking care not to crowd them. Fry until golden brown on one side (about 2 minutes), then turn and fry on the other side. With a slotted spoon, transfer each to a paper towel–lined baking sheet until cool.

For Whiskey Glaze
1¼ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup Cotswolds Distillery Single Malt Whisky
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
Dash of salt
½ ounce toffee sauce (homemade or store-bought)

Combine ingredients into a small mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment. Mix on low until all ingredients are fully incorporated, then switch to high speed and run for 2 minutes or until the glaze is smooth and all of the clumps are removed. Pour finished glaze into a container and set aside.

For Whiskey Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
⅓ cup Cotswolds Distillery Single Malt Whisky
⅓ cup powdered sugar

Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment. Start on low speed, gradually increasing until whipped cream is thick and fluffy. Transfer cream to a pastry bag fitted with a narrow tip.

To assemble:
Poke a hole in the side of each doughnut and fill with whiskey whipped cream. Pour the glaze over each doughnut and top with more whipped cream. If you’re feeling it, sprinkle shaved dark chocolate on top.


Bourbon Brown Butter Cherry Oatmeal Bars

Bourbon Brown Butter Cherry Oatmeal Bars

Photo: Courtesy of BLVD Kitchen

“As a connoisseur of cookies from way back and a believer in booze for almost as long, it’s like winning the lottery when I can bring these two cravings together—hence my serious love for these bourbon brown butter cherry oatmeal bars,” says recipe creator Sharon Graves, chef-owner of BLVD Kitchen in Sherman Oaks, California. “Tart cherries soak in warm bourbon, then get folded into a rich, salty-sweet batter with nubby oats and the spices of the holidays. Then, just because, there’s this crazy bourbon brown sugar icing on top. Honestly, what more could you want in a bar?” This is an alcoholic dessert we can get behind!

For Cookies
1 cup dried tart cherries
¼ cup very warm water
¼ cup bourbon
1¾ cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Generous ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Scant ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, plus more for preparing your pan
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1¾ cups rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350°F and generously grease a 13″-x-9″ pan with butter. Set aside. Combine warm water and bourbon in a small bowl and add cherries to soak. Meanwhile, whisk flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and stir occasionally, until butter begins to turn slightly brown and smells nutty (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Place brown sugar and sugar in a large bowl, then add the browned butter, mixing well by hand with a wooden spoon or stiff spatula. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir well, until completely smooth. Add the flour-and-spice mixture to the butter mixture and stir well. Drain the cherries and add those along with the oatmeal. Stir by hand a few more times, then transfer the dough to the prepared pan. It will be thick, so use the spoon to spread it out evenly. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top is deep golden brown and center appears set when you jiggle the pan. Allow to cool, then top with the icing.

For Bourbon Brown Sugar Icing
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup butter
3 tablespoons bourbon
1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1½ cups powdered sugar
Pinch of kosher salt

Melt butter and brown sugar together in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once melted, allow to boil for about 1 minute, then remove from the heat and stir in bourbon and lemon juice. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Cool until lukewarm, then add the powdered sugar and salt, stirring vigorously by hand until smooth. Start with the suggested amounts, then adjust the powdered sugar and lemon juice levels to get a smooth, creamy icing. The consistency should be spreadable and soft, but not too thin. It will melt and thin out more when it comes in contact with the warm cookies, then firm up again as they cool.

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