Día de los Muertos – How to make sippable sweets

Video by Olivia Santini & Alessandra Hickson 

Every Friday on NBC Latino, we celebrate the weekend ahead by sharing cocktail recipes. By showcasing Latin spirits – like rum, mezcal, pisco and tequila – and some of the up-and-coming stars behind the bar from coast to coast, it’s a way to celebrate the Hispanic presence on the cocktail scene and highlight our respective traditions.

The holidays are just an added opportunity to showcase exceptional drinks, and Día de los Muertos is no exception. We asked expert mixologist Julian Cox of the highly lauded Peruvian restaurant Picca in Los Angeles to share one of his favorite holiday-themed cocktails, and he obliged with a drink he calls the Dante Bell Pepper. A fragrant, savory blend of smoky mezcal, bell pepper and carrot accented with notes of salt, pepper and spice, it’s a cocktail that has just a hint of tradition (thanks to the mezcal) and a dose of modernity, thanks to its bright orange hue reminiscent of Halloween.

Dante Bell Pepper

Recipe courtesy Julian Cox

2 oz Mezcal El Silencio
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz agave nectar
1/2 oz bell pepper juice, seasoned with salt, pepper, and cumin
1 carrot, juiced and seasoned with salt, pepper and habanero

Preparation: Shake ingredients together. Pour into a glass. Top with carrot air, frothed (a handheld milk frother will suffice) . Garnish with carrot tops. Makes one cocktail.

But while we love showcasing a cocktail for the adults, Día de los Muertos is also a holiday with an emphasis on family. With that in mind, we’re sharing a non-alcoholic beverage – champurrado. A hot chocolate drink made thick with the addition of corn masa, it’s a warming beverage that’s particularly popular in Mexico during Día de los Muertos. Take a look at its preparation by Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack, author of the Muy Bueno Cookbook, who showcases its place in her family’s Día de los Muertos celebration.

Champurrado (Mexican Hot Chocolate)

Recipe courtesy Muy Bueno Cookbook

3 cups of water

2 cinnamon sticks

1 anise star

¼ cup masa harina

2 cups milk

½ disk Mexican chocolate, chopped (Abuelita or Ibarra chocolate)

3 ounces piloncillo, chopped or 1/2 cup packed brown sugar


In a large saucepan boil water with the two cinnamon sticks and anise star. Remove from the heat, cover and let the cinnamon sticks and anise star steep for about 1 hour. Remove the cinnamon sticks and anise star, return to low heat and slowly add the masa harina to the warm water, whisking until combined. Add milk, chocolate, and piloncillo.

Heat over medium heat just until boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until chocolate is completely melted and sugar is dissolved, whisking occasionally. Serve immediately.

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