The Northwest has more than its share of rainy days. In Washington alone, the record is a whopping 35 days of rain in a row! Despite this fact, a true Northwesterner will probably scoff at the idea of carrying an umbrella. We just like to keep our hands free for drink-holding instead. With the never-ending rotation of frosty mornings, cloudy days and rainy nights, there is no better weather for cozying up to a steamy adult beverage — like in this Stormy Chocolate Sipper featuring a fennel liqueur from Salish Sea Organic Liqueurs.

The brainchild of Sam Desner, a mixologist who started crafting his own liqueurs after not being able to find what he needed in the current market, Salish Sea became a reality. Today, the Lacey, Washington, distillery offers over 20 different flavors inspired by spices and herbs from across the world. Flavors range from the traditional vanilla, ginger and cinnamon, to unusual flavors like chrysanthemum, thyme-coriander and fennel, the latter as the perfect choice for this cozy cocktail. The fennel flavor is not overpowering and complements the red wine and chocolate nicely with its subtle anise undertones.

This hot cocoa combines two beloved ingredients: chocolate and red wine. Rich and delicious, it is to be sipped and savored. The fennel liqueur adds a delicious herbal note. Gourmet marshmallows, toasted and sprinkled lightly with fennel salt, give this dessert cocktail even more decadence.

Stormy Chocolate Sipper

Makes 4 servings

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup your favorite red wine
1 cup whole milk
¼ cup Salish Sea Organic Fennel liqueur
Garnish: toasted marshmallows, fennel salt*

Combine the chocolate and wine in a small saucepan over low heat and whisk until the chocolate is melted, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the milk, increase heat to medium-low and heat until hot, but not boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the fennel liqueur. Pour into small cups for serving. Garnish with toasted marshmallows sprinkled lightly with fennel salt if desired.

*To make the fennel salt, combine 1 part toasted, ground fennel seed with 1 part coarse sea salt.