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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

Written by
Oliver Strand
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New York's hot chocolate revival can be traced back to City Bakery more than 20 years ago, but even though that bakery bastion shuttered in 2019, the scene is still piping hot. One reason? Baristas. A great coffee shop 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.

But whether you get it from your corner Joe joint, one of the city's best bakeries, or from a bar as a warming hot cocktail, hot chocolate in NYC has never been better. There are so many high-quality options in this city that you could go 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.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to best restaurants in NYC

Best hot chocolate in NYC

  • 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), $8.

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  • Shopping
  • Chocolate and candy
  • Soho
  • price 2 of 4

There are three categories of “drinking chocolates” at this chocolatier chain: Blended (in dark, milk, or white chocolate varieties), single source (Bolivia, Brazil), or a spicy dark brew punched up with chile powder. Trust us, you can’t go wrong with any of them. Soho (burdickchocolate.com). $6

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Squish Marshmallow
Photograph: Courtesy Squish Marshmallow

5. 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.

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Soho
  • price 1 of 4

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. Soho (dominiqueanselny.com). $7.50

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  • Shopping
  • Chocolate and candy
  • price 2 of 4

MarieBelle doesn't play around. The Cocoa Bar Salon in the chocolatier's SoHo boutique offers multiple 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, oat milk. This might be the most comprehensive cocoa menu in the five boroughs. SoHo, (mariebelle.com), $5.

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  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • East Village
  • price 3 of 4

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 bourbon-spiked hot chocolate ($15), a raclette burger—maybe some warm cocktails for the grownups. It's as cozy as it is stylish. East Village, (standardhotels.com).

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  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Union Square
  • price 2 of 4

Breads knows how to do chocolate well—the hundreds of cocoa-laced rugelach we've consumed since the joint opened is more than enough proof. So it's no shock that the bakery's hot chocolate would be equally addictive. The sweet concoction is made with 35-percent Cacao Noel chocolate disks and sports a fat cap of steamed whole milk. Union Square (breadsbakery.com). $4.65

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • price 1 of 4

Fany Gerson is well-known for her frozen paletas, but she’s also talented at treats on the other end of the heat spectrum. Case in point: Her Mexican hot chocolate, which can come stirred with milk ($7), topped with vanilla whipped cream ($8), punctuated with a chile blend ($7.25), or—our favorite incarnation—a side of ready-to-dip churros ($9). West Village (lanewyorkina.com)

  • 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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