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PHD Terrace hot chocolate
Photograph: Courtesy PHD Terrace at Dream Midtown

The best hot chocolate in NYC

Kiss Swiss Miss goodbye—the best hot chocolate in NYC features fiery chilies, marshmallow “flowers” and, yes, booze

By Oliver Strand
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The scene is strong even with the recent closing of City Bakery, where this hot chocolate revival got its start more than 20 years ago. One reason? Baristas. A great coffee spot is often a great hot chocolate spot—that latte-quality milk can make all the difference when you want a cocoa to lift your spirits when battling the brutal cold.

The hot chocolate in NYC has never been better! There are so many amazing, high-quality options in this city that you could take your kid on a season-long cocoa crawl, and try everything from classic cups to more creative expressions: cardamom almond milk hot chocolate, anyone?

Fancy techniques aside, the best cocoas are comforting—there's a reason why hot chocolate is one of the defining flavors of childhood.

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Best hot chocolate in NYC

Bar Pisellino
Photograph: Oliver Strand

1. Bar Pisellino

Restaurants Italian West Village

There's more chocolate than there is milk in the hot cocoa at Bar Pisellino, a jewel box of an homage to the Italian caffè. The hot chocolate is so rich that it's like drinking warm cake batter—topped with a dollop of firmly-whipped panna that melts oh-so-slowly, this is a drink with the personality of an elegant dessert. Think of it as special-occasion coca, a reward for good behavior. In other words, you get one too. West Village (barpisellino.com), $6.

Daily Provisions
Photograph: Katherine Kalec

2. Daily Provisions

Restaurants Cafés Gramercy

The Daily Provisions Hot Chocolate is made with three kinds of chocolate: Guanaja dark chocolate, Bahibe milk chocolate 46%, and Guittard chocolate ganache. It's complex, and delicious, and when topped with whipped cream and a housemade vanilla marshmallow it's tasty, messy fun. Gramercy, Upper West Side (dailyprovisionsnyc.com). $6.50.

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Mah-Ze-Dahr
Photograph: Courtesy of Mah-Ze-Dahr

3. Mah-Ze-Dahr

Restaurants Bakeries West Village

Pastry chef's Umber Ahmad's take on hot chocolate is straightforward and perfect: Valrhona chocolate, steamed milk and a toasted housemade vanilla bean marshmallows that will haunt your child's dreams. West Village (mahzedahrbakery.com). $5.

Squish
Photograph: Courtesy Squish Marshmallow

4. Squish Marshmallow

It's only right that NYC's go-to marshmallow shop would serve a lovely cup of hot cocoa. The marshmallow is optional, but c'mon, who are you kidding? East Village (squishmarshmallows.com). $6.

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Photograph: Courtesy Dominique Ansel Bakery

5. Dominique Ansel Bakery

Restaurants Bakeries Soho

It looks like magic but really, it’s just dessert-world ingenuity—pastry maestro Dominique Ansel crowns his rich cup of hot cocoa with a marshmallow flower that’s wrapped in a band of chocolate. When the chocolate hits the warm liquid, it melts and the flower “blooms” and reveals a chocolate truffle in the middle. 

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Photograph: MarieBelle

7. MarieBelle

Shopping Chocolate and candy

MarieBelle doesn't play around. The Cocoa Bar Salon in the chocolatier's SoHo boutique offers more than a dozen variations of hot chocolate, from the classic Aztec dark chocolate, to Hindu cardamom, to white chocolate Tahitian vanilla. Choose from whole milk, fat-free milk, almond milk, soy milk. This might be the most comprehensive cocoa menu in the five boroughs. SoHo, (mariebelle.com), $5.

Photograph: Courtesy the Standard Hotels

8. The Standard East Village

Hotels Boutique hotels East Village

The Standard East Village is the embodiment of low-key luxury, a tastefully cool kid spot on a still-gritty street. What does this have to do with the cocoa, which is made with Valrhona Caraibe dark chocolate? Well, you can get a mug in the cafe, or you can throw a little party by reserving one of the heated yurts in the Winter Garden: Order a crock of hot chocolate, a pot of fondue—maybe some warm cocktails for the grownups. It's as cozy as it is stylish. East Village, (standardhotels.com).

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Photograph: Courtesy of the ATM Group

9. Atla

Restaurants Mexican Noho

The Mexican hot chocolate at Atla is a chocolate callente for sophisticates. Dark, dense, delicious—just what you'd expect from the kitchen of Daniela Soto-Innes and Enrique Olvera. Noho (atlanyc.com). $9.

Photograph: Jolie Ruben

10. Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Restaurants Coffee shops Flatiron

The hot chocolate at Stumptown is so good because the baristas know their way around a steam wand. They texture the milk to the perfect temperature and consistency, then mix it with a housemade ganache. So gorgeous, so simple. Flatiron, Greenwich Village (stumptowncoffee.com). $3.50.

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Photograph: Liz Clayman

11. Devoción

Restaurants Cafés Williamsburg

A recipe for hot chocolate success: L.A. Burdick chocolate, expertly-steamed milk, a handsome and family-friendly room with plenty of room for strollers. Various locations (devocion.com). $6.25.

Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

12. La Churreria

Restaurants Spanish Nolita

A postage-sized outpost of Spain that specializes in churros con chocolate—the idea is to dip the delicate churros in the dense chocolate, but it's ok to eat your drink with a spoon. Nolita (lachurrerianyc.com).

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Maman
Photograph: Courtesy Maman

13. Maman

Restaurants Cafés Little Italy

What better accompaniment for the bakery's exceptional chocolate-chip cookies than a steamy mug of creamy hot cocoa made with melted dark chocolate and infused with dried lavender. Various locations (www.mamannyc.com). $3.50.

Photograph: Justin Levy

14. PHD Terrace

Nightlife Clubs Midtown West

This one's a team effort. While the weather remains chilly, order this 15-pound boozy hot chocolate that's meant to serve 10. This modern play on red velvet cake is made with Valrhona dark chocolate and comes with many fluffy marshmallows. $125.

Looking for more ways stay warm?

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