Cocoa powder is the dry solids of the cocoa bean, which are roasted, deshelled, and ground to make chocolate liquor (note, this is non-alcoholic). The chocolate liquor is then pressed to remove cocoa butter, which is the fat component of the liquor. The solids that are left are dried, then can be processed with an alkali, or left in their natural state.

Processing cocoa powder with an alkali (also called Dutch processing) reduces natural cocoa acidity, but it also darkens the cocoa powder, sometimes leaving it with a reddish tinge. Dutched cocoa has a round, intense chocolate flavor, but lacks some of the complexity of natural cocoa. 

In cocktail usage, cocoa powder is typically used as a garnish, but can also be mixed into simple syrup to make a quick, homemade version of dark crème de cacao

Some popular cocktails containing Cocoa powder

  • After Eight — Fernet Branca, Becherovka, Bitters, Chocolate liqueur, Egg white, Agave syrup, Cocoa powder
  • The Grasshopper Lies Heavy — Fernet Branca, Herbal liqueur, Soda water, Simple syrup, Egg white, Cocoa powder
  • St. James's Flip — Stout, Irish whiskey, Fernet Branca, Bitters, Coffee, Whole egg, Cinnamon syrup, Cocoa powder
  • Lust for Life — Mezcal, Palo Cortado Sherry, Orgeat, Lemon juice, Pineapple juice, Cocoa powder
  • The Snowball — Brandy, Apple brandy, Prosecco, Crème de Cacao, Chocolate bitters, Corn milk, Egg white, Cocoa powder
  • La Calavera Catrina — Mezcal, Bitters, Ginger beer, Pineapple puree, Egg white, Orange juice, Cocoa powder
  • Appalachian (Hill People Milk) — Corn Whiskey, Tennessee whiskey, Coffee liqueur, Bitters, Corn milk, Orgeat, Lemon juice, Cocoa powder