Ode to Baileys Hot Chocolate


As soon as November emerges, so too does the corporate introduction of hot beverages; Christmas festivities, and traditions galore. Of all the over-priced treats on offer, there is something so sweetly charmed about having a homemade hot chocolate in hand on a crisp winter’s day. Sure, Michael Bublé emerging from his cave to grace us with festive bangers, and decorating the Christmas tree with coloured lights and mismatched decorations, also provide fond memories and sentiments of excitement each year, but nothing will ever compare to that first sip.

My mother and I always drink hot chocolate as Christmas draws nearer to its annual reality. The simple excitement of picking out my favourite Disney mug, and watching the rich brown powder brew into richly boiled glee, is perhaps one of the best parts of this time of year. What makes this treat extra special is the squirty cream swirled on top – only ever bought for Christmas – and the topping of melting marshmallows for that extra sugar-high.

Although widely available throughout the year, the only time I can ever bring myself to consciously curate and consume such a beverage, is during the period of time in which nights start to get longer; the world starts to feel darker, and sweet wrappers from the family selection box begin to fill every living room in Britain.

Then began the introduction of an additional alcoholic twist for this winter classic, following a language exchange to Braunschweig during the Christmas period in 2018. My exchange mother would often give me Baileys on an evening, mounted over ice. Its consumption left me feeling cosy, whilst warm in their German apartment, surrounded by scents of cinnamon and vanilla from the candles, and watching the world from the windows above.

This began an inseparable connection between the spirit of Baileys and that of Christmas, which would last a lifetime.

This association is now so deeply embedded in my mind that I cannot imagine my hot chocolate without a shot or two of Baileys. Now that I am actually living in Germany – a country famous for its Christmas markets – this desire is only intensifying. The tiny penguin mugs filled with Baileys hot chocolate brings me back home for five minutes, with this sensation in itself leaving me glowing from the inside out.

There is something so nice about frequenting the market with friends, and experiencing this sense of elation together. Despite the prevalent use of masks, and obsessing over vaccination proof, for an hour or two you can forget about the worries of the world, and create memories with loved ones, fuelled by various concoctions of alcoholic winter beverages.

Visiting a German Christmas market the way they were built to be presented, rather than the wannabe replica traditionally frequented in Birmingham, also feels so much more intimate. The fashions of Europe leave a sea of happy customers in their long winter coats; black boots and plain chunky scarves, chatting merrily with friends new and old. It feels far less consumerist, and places value more heavily on the true meaning of Christmas, spending time together, which is something that I feel has sadly got lost in translation of the replica markets.

To consume such a delight in this environment is to feel Christmas in your hands; heart, and stomach. Sure, the Glühwein and even Glühbier too resemble the same thing, but Baileys hot chocolate will always remain the beverage that is softly subdued in my heart.


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