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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
This old-timey soda fountain celebrates sweater weather with a messy, goopy, chocolately salted caramel hot cocoa topped with a small mountain of toasted marshmallow fluff. Some advice: Ask for extra napkins. Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (brooklynfarmacyandsodafountain.com). $5.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.