A bubbling pot of purple-brown liquid hums in the window of this esteemed chocolate boutique. Its Aztec-style drink is made without milk, using the same mixture of Valrhona 100 percent cocoa powder, 70 percent chocolate and light muscovado sugar that is contained in the take-home bags. You can also add a spice or two from the selection provided. Branches in Islington and Bank, too.
A longstanding south London fave, this little shop-cum-café – just off the foodie strip of Bellenden Road and run by French chocolatier Isabelle Alaya – is adorably cosy, with ramshackle furniture, botanical wallpaper and rows of dinky sample bowls along the counter. It also sells some of London’s best hot chocolate (all from £3). The outrageously delicious salted caramel number is the biggest hit. On the more exotic side, cardamom and nutmeg or matcha green tea add zing to mugs of white chocolate.
Hotel Chocolat makes a play for street cred at this slick café-restaurant, and its hot chocolate is very good indeed – a cup of well-balanced, savoury-edged elixir guaranteed to warm the cockles (add a shot of St Lucian rum if you’re feeling extra chilly). In summer, the iced chocolate does the trick, but also try the versions with salted caramel or hazelnut.
You can drink a mug of hot chocolate in Rococo’s chic Belgravia shop, but we prefer to grab a takeaway cup sprinkled with fragrant spices from its lovely little Seven Dials store. Either way, take time to gawp at the chocolate lobsters, alligators and Roald Dahl bars dotted around. Magic for the young ’uns. Further branches in Notting Hill, Chelsea and Marylebone.
Superb ice cream and sorbets are Ruby Violet’s stock in trade, but this charming parlour also takes its hot drinks seriously. Intense shots of delectable hot chocolate are made from catering favourite Callebaut (the menu outlines its ethical trade credentials) and served on dinky vintage trays. The longer version (with hot, foamy steamed milk on the side) also has plenty of oomph.
Bless this Broadwick Street branch of a long-established Rome chocolatier with its gorgeous piled-up displays, lovely presentation jars and hot chocolate bubbling from little cauldrons behind the glass counter. Customers are welcome to sit in with a cup of this thick, high-quality cocoa-rich stuff and admire the interior, which features an entire wall decorated with shiny metal chocolate moulds.
Order hot chocolate at this bijou deli/café and watch the whole process unfold. First off, a generous quantity of single-estate chocolate is steamed directly with the milk, then it’s served in capacious cups with extra hot milk on the side for anyone who finds the experience too dark. OK, prices may raise a few hackles, but the results are worth it.
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