Look, we’re not exactly looking forward to arctic-level winds and that deceptively cheery-sounding moniker “wintry mix.” But we will take any excuse to pick up our favorite handwarmer: a piping hot cup of cocoa. Ahead, the city’s best, from unexpected renditions (lavender! beets!) to a grown-up version of Swiss Miss.
There’s no competing with a classic, and City Bakery’s hot chocolate is legendary. Coming into its 25th year anniversary, City Bakery’s liquid bliss is made with rich milk chocolate and heated milk. Don’t forget to ask for the giant housemade marshmallow—it’s essential. And be sure to stop by in February, when City Bakery offers a different hot chocolate flavor each day (like cinnamon, banana or chili pepper).
3 W. 18th St.; thecitybakery.com
Hot cocoa that doubles as a beauty potion? Sign us up. The Hot Virgin Cacao is a two-part beverage: Stir the chocolate stick (molinillo) into steamed cashew milk until dissolved. The raw cacao is high in antioxidants and infused with resveratrol, known for its anti-aging properties.
Multiple locations; drsmood.com
Lavender + hot cocoa = aromatherapy in a mug. This soothing blend includes melted dark chocolate infused with dried lavender—an ingredient inspired by the owners’ roots in the South of France.
Multiple locations; maman.nyc
These thick “drinking chocolates” from famed chocolate specialist L.A. Burdick are basically melted-down chocolate bars, and yes, it’s as rich as it sounds. Cacao also gets the single-origin treatment here, with dark drinking chocolates from different regions like Madagascar (bright and fruity) or Venezuela (subtle nutty notes).
156 Prince St.; burdickchocolate.com
Marshmallows take the sideline to hazelnut in the popular gelateria’s cioccolata calda al bacio. Steamed Venezuelan gianduja milk chocolate gets sprinkled with hazelnut chips, and if you’d expect them to sink, you’d be wrong—the brew is so famously thick, it requires a spoon.
Multiple locations in Manhattan; grom.it
For a bit of added fire to your chocolatey mug, this spicy blend from the famed chocolatier warms up dark chocolate with allspice, cinnamon, ground ancho chili peppers and smoked ground chipotle chili.
Locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn; mrchocolate.com
Dominique Ansel Bakery
Of course baking genius and Cronut inventor Dominique Ansel has a madcap riff on the beverage. A delicate marshmallow flower wrapped in a chocolate shell slowly “blooms” when the heat from the hot chocolate melts the band. (Push play to see it in action.) Surprise: There’s a white chocolate truffle inside.
189 Spring St.; dominiqueansel.com
El Rey Luncheonette
Four words: Brownie batter hot chocolate. Yep, it’s pretty much repurposed brownie batter (sans egg and flour) that’s been whipped into heated liquid form. And it’s even better than the Betty Crocker mix you not-so-secretly ate with a spoon as a kid.
100 Stanton St.; elreynyc.com
DŌ Cookie Dough Confections
Exclusive to its seasonal outpost at the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park, the spot famously known for its edible cookie dough is serving up—what else?—a cookie-dough hot chocolate: Hot cocoa is poured into a cup pressed with the signature chocolate-chip cookie dough and topped with toasted marshmallows.
Holiday Shops at Bryant Park, Sixth Ave. between 40th and 42nd Sts.
You know with a name like “the Hot Chocolate Experience,” they’re not messing around. Choose one of ten flavors (like gianduja, orange, cinnamon, almond, white chocolate or caramel). Your cocoa comes presented on a long wooden block along with a cup of whipped cream, mini marshmallows, a chocolate macaron and a piece of dark chocolate with a shaver.
Multiple locations in Manhattan; amorino.com
Two of our favorite beverages join forces at last—and we promise it tastes amazing. Ceremonial grade matcha meets single-origin Ghanaian chocolate ganache and steamed milk (the house-made almond is highly recommended).
Multiple locations in Manhattan; chalait.com
Enjoy a cup of what might be more accurately described as liquid pudding, comprised of 72 percent pure Colombian cacao, in this gorgeous cocoa bar reminiscent of an old-world European café.
484 Broome St.; mariebelle.com
This quirky ice cream shop brings its magic touch to cold-weather sweets, in the form of a classic mug of cocoa that combines 64 percent dark chocolate, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla and a gooey topping of torched marshmallows.
Locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn; oddfellowsnyc.com
Think Swiss Miss, but, you know, made by an acclaimed farm-to-table chef. The aptly-named "fancy powdered hot chocolate" arrives in an envelope with a thermos of warm milk. Olmsted uses Valrhona cocoa powder, powdered sugar and dehydrated milk to make the powder, and even makes tiny dehydrated marshmallows. Take this mug outside in the garden (it’s open year-round) and snuggle up under a blanket and heated lamps.
659 Vanderbilt Ave., Brooklyn; olmstednyc.com
Famed for its crullers and kouign amanns, Daily Provisions offers a hot cocoa that's just as enchanting as its pastries. This cup of cocoa combines both milk and dark Valrhona chocolate along with milk and heavy cream. But the best part? The blend is then topped with a seasonal marshmallow (right now it’s an appropriately festive peppermint flavor).
103 E. 19th St.; dailyprovisionsnyc.com
Imagine a drinkable peanut butter cup (without the mess of microwaving a bunch of Reese's, which, for the record, we do not recommend). Pure chocolate blocks are melted and mixed with fresh vanilla cream and a creamy peanut butter infusion in this decadent rendition from the iconic chocolate bar.
841 Broadway; maxbrenner.com
The Good Sort
Beets and chocolate? Believe it or not, it totally works. The hot beet cacao is made with organic beetroot and raw cacao powder swirled into steamed almond milk (and no added sweeteners, but you can add a drop of agave or maple if you like). Beets are a good source of iron and folate and contain a high amount of antioxidants...so yeah, this basically counts as a vegetable.
5 Doyers St.; thegoodsortnyc.com
La Pecora Bianca
You didn't think we'd close out this list without including something Nutella-related, did you? This cheery Italian spot melts and whisks together chocolate and Nutella with steamed milk—proof that sometimes the simplest things are the best.
Two locations in Manhattan; lapecorabianca.com
Food influencer Marisel Salazar is a member of the Coterie by PureWow.