Mexican Manhattan

This Mexican Manhattan variant has a little bit o’ spice, a little bit o’ citrus, and some smooth dark chocolate with bourbon… Add a dash or 5 of molé bitters, and you’re sipping your new favorite holiday cocktail! Switch out the bourbon for brandy, and you’ll have a South-of-the-Border Sidecar.

2 Mexican Manhattans on burlap with Christmas ornaments and twinkly lights.

A Christmas candle is a lovely thing; It makes no noise at all, But softly gives itself away; While quite unselfish, it grows small.

~~ Eva K. Logue

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – Recipe Inspiration

What are your favorite images during the holidays? Mine? Candles. I rarely light them but at Christmas. This year, in the midst of many storms, it seems particularly important to illuminate the darkness… Light a candle.

As I have prepared for the holidays this year, I hearken back to Christmases past, the decorating, the candles lit, the crackling fireplace, the Christmas cocktail. Though Mark and I now live hundreds of miles from our families, we try to create special moments with perhaps less time and energy spent than in the past. After all, we are now two.

So, lighting a candle (or a few), adding some twinkly lights, setting a pretty table, and eating and drinking merrily are still very present at Andersen casa. There is, however, no roaring fire. In the land of perpetual summer, a fireplace seems superfluous.  😆

A close up of a coupe glass with a Mexican Manhattan garnished with an orange twist.

The inspiration for Mexican Manhattan or South-O-the-Border Sidecar? came from a tiny bottle with a dropper – molé bitters. You probably know I adore Mexican flavors, and I incorporate them into my Ancho and Chocolate BBQ Sauce with Mexican Meatballs and my sous vide duck.

The chocolate, chile, citrus combo is pretty irresistable! I took those flavors and combined them in this beautiful variation on a classic cocktail. Only you can decide whether it will be bourbon or brandy…

Mark and I love bourbon. I was slow to warm up to this complex spirit… He, on the other hand, loves it “neat” with his cigars on Sunday. He slowly won me over.

However, brandy is a lovely alternative. I use brandy in my Donner and Blitzen: A Ginger Brandy Cocktail. It yields a deeper red color, and a festive and different flavor. Which is your preference?

📋 Ingredients Notes

  • bourbon or brandy – Don’t go to the bottom shelf, but it doesn’t need to be fancy!
  • orange liqueur – I love this blood orange liqueur. You can substitute Grand Marnier or triple sec.
  • chocolate chile liqueur – There are many brands, but this chocolate chile liqueur is outstanding!
  • mole bitters – My favorite is homemade (recipe someday!), but Bitterman’s mole bitters is excellent.
Manhattan ingredients before mixing: Bourbon, blood orange liqueur, chocolate-chile liqueur, and mole bitters.

🔪 Instructions

  1. Add first 3 ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass. Add several dashes of bitters. Garnish if desired. Enjoy!

This festive cocktail comes together in about 5 minutes. SERIOUSLY. My husband made me one tonight… in 5 minutes. I ought to quantify that by saying garnishes can take practice if you’re not accustomed to making them.

You will need a cocktail shaker, bourbon or brandy, a blood orange liqueur (ie. Mixologist Collection Blood Orange Liqueur), Chocolate-Chile Liqueur (for example, Villa Roma Liqueur Cioccoloto Peperoncino), and molé bitters (ie. Bitterman’s). The ingredients get a vigorous shake, a pour into a beautiful (please)  😀 glass, and a garnish of orange. Yes, it’s gorgeous and festive! Light a candle or two, and enjoy one with your loved one. I promise it’s special!


🧂 Useful Stuff

Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. This helps to offset the costs of maintaining my blog and creating awesome content! 😊

Bitterman's Mole Bitters
Cocktail Shaker
Coupe Glasses
Mexican Manhattan or South-O-the-Border Sidecar Close Up.

Mexican Manhattan or South-O-the-Border Sidecar Feature Image

Mexican Manhattan or South-O-the-Border Sidecar?

Blood orange liqueur, chocolate chile liqueur, and either bourbon or brandy get shaken and topped off with mole bitters… A festive and zesty variation on 2 classic cocktails!
4.80 from 5 votes

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Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Beverages
Cuisine Eclectic
Servings 1 cocktail
Calories 225 kcal


  • 1 ½ ounces bourbon or brandy
  • 1 ½ ounces blood orange liqueur - (see notes)
  • 1 ½ ounces chocolate and chile liqueur - (see notes)
  • mole bitters - (see notes)
  • orange to garnish - optional


  • Add first 3 ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass. Add several dashes of bitters. Garnish if desired. Enjoy!


We love this cocktail with both the bourbon and the brandy, but as bourbon drinkers, we opt for bourbon if we have both. You may or may not have a preference.
As shown in the photo, I use De Kuyper Mixologist Collection Blood Orange Liqueur and Via Roma Distillate Cioccoloto Peperoncino Liqueur. You may not be able to find these specific brands, but there are others widely available at larger liquor stores. You’re looking for an orange liqueur (blood orange deepens the red) and a chocolate-chile liqueur which adds a hint of heat at the finish. The mole bitters are not hard for me to find in south Texas, but they do have them on Amazon. Substitute chocolate or orange bitters if you can’t find the mole bitters.
225 calories included 1 shot each of the 3 main ingredients. Yours will vary according to brand.


Calories: 225kcal

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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  1. I think candles are super Christmasy too. I light them most of the colder months since I’m in the NE that’s about half the year but extra at Christmas. This drink is really special looking. I’ve never had chocolate chile liquor but I’ll have to try it! It sounds so good- like the adult version of Mexican hot chocolate.

    1. Thanks Jenna! Yes, you “hit the nail on the head”… The liqueur is a grownup version of Mexican hot chocolate. The cinnamon and chile really complement the chocolate, and the orange brings it all together… Merry Christmas!