Chow Bella

Rich Heider Whips Up Heavenly Hot Chocolate Cocktails at Market Street Kitchen

Rich Heider -- head bartender at Market Street Kitchen and the guy who whips up the most outrageous, boozed-up hot chocolate in town -- cringes at the word "mixologist," so let's put terminology aside for a moment. He's a booze-slinger in possession of a sophisticated palate (the good ones always are) who happens to love Chartreuse. So much so that he has the Triumphant Cross -- the symbol used by the Carthusian monks -- tattooed on his forearm.

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What, you might be wondering, do monks have to do with Chartreuse? Absolutely everything (and I'll get to that in a minute). And why mix Chartreuse with chocolate? Because it's an unbelievably good -- if unlikely -- combo. Here's the backstory.

Heider maintains that everyone loves warm cocktails for the holidays, and what could be cozier than hot chocolate? And because he firmly believes that Green Chartreuse mixed with hot chocolate is "by far, the best thing ever invented," he put it on the menu, calling it Market Street Hot Chocolate -- a simple, effective elixir containing nothing but hot chocolate (Heider uses Ghirardelli's premium cocoa with steamed milk) and Green Chartreuse, topped with homemade cinnamon whipped cream.

The combination may sound weird, but it's been adopted by the aprés-ski crowd for good reason: it's beyond delicious -- adding minty, wintry and decidedly grown-up elements to the comforting, chilly-day beverage of our collective American childhood. At $11, you'll probably only drink one, and that's a good thing because this baby is sweet, rich dessert in a glass. Calorie counts? Let's not go there. It's Christmas.

If you don't know much about Chartreuse, this is a fabulously easy introduction to a French liqueur that takes some getting to know. Made by the Carthusian Monks since the 1700s, the recipe may actually date back to the 1600s, when it was first invented for medicinal purposes. Composed of 130 different herbs, plants and flowers found in the French Alps, the formula is so top-secret that only three monks (each learning only one third of it after taking vows of silence) know it at any given time. Apparently, nobody worries about heart attacks or natural disasters. God, after all, is behind Chartreuse.

Heider gets that. And after you try the Market Street Hot Chocolate, you will, too.

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Nikki Buchanan