There’s nothing more satisfying than cozying up with a frothy cup of hot chocolate. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures. But hot cocoa doesn’t have to be simple — New York’s brilliant culinary minds have found many dreamy, delicious ways to elevate it. If you’re looking for a fun, inventive date with your sweetheart, these 5 sweet spots have made hot cocoa an event in its own right.
Fro-Yo Hot Chocolate – 16 Handles
Two words: frozen yogurt. At 16 Handles, Tahitian vanilla bean and fudge brownie fro-yos are heated into a hot liquid to create an unusual chocolate experience. Tip: Ask for a dollop of whipped cream as topping, which turns the drink into a sort of black-and-white twist sundae. Along with the sweet sugar rush you’ll get from the treat, the space’s hot pink and neon green accents will immediately put you in an upbeat mood. At night, the family-friendly vibe evolves into a more club-like atmosphere — it’s amazing what a change in music and lighting will do to a place.
Vegan Hot Chocolate – Blossom Du Jour Bakery
Vegans rejoice! While most hot chocolates incorporate some sort of dairy, Blossom Du Jour’s Blossom Bakery features a steamy drink with vegan chocolate chips and pistoles, organic cane sugar, kosher salt, and cinnamon – gowned in vegan marshmallows upon request. And if you’re in need of a delicious gift, the bakery serves the cocoa ingredients inside a Mason jar tied with a red, snowflake-studded ribbon. Your vegan family members and friends will love you forever.
The Hot Chocolate Festival – City Bakery
If you can only order one thing at City Bakery, skip the soups and pastries (OK, maybe get a pretzel croissant for later) and get their hot chocolate. Made by melting real chocolate bars down into liquid form, it’s the sweetest, richest, most decadent hot chocolate in the city by far. Better yet, mark your calendar to go during their annual February Hot Chocolate Festival, with each day featuring a different flavored hot chocolate. As you sip your rich dark chocolate, you’ll get extra flavors like banana peel, ginger, beer, bourbon, cinnamon, or chili pepper. City Bakery founder Maury Rubin suggests pairing your hot chocolate with their melted chocolate chip cookie, which is a giant cookie with a crispy outside and uber-moist inside. Be warned: It may ruin all other cookies for you.
Spiked Haute Chocolate Bar – Two E Bar/Lounge
Once the kids are taken care of, grab your sweetheart and head to Two E Bar/Lounge, whose spiked haute chocolate bar is a must-have winter experience. Walking into the Alexandra Champalimaud-designed space, you’ll notice an art deco copper bar in the center flanked by high columns – exactly the type of place where mixologists would transform your winter hot chocolate into a decadent craft cocktail (at least through New Year’s Day). There are four options to choose from, or you can taste them all in a ho-cho (see what they did there?) flight. But, if you want to stick to one, go with the Mayan habanero, featuring habanero-infused Patron tequila, Grand Marnier, and cinnamon syrup. It pairs perfectly with their pumpkin hazelnut baked Alaska, and little rum flambé never hurt anyone, right?
An Authentic Italian Experience – Crave.it
Located in Chelsea, Crave.it – which opened in July 2014 – presents you with an authentic Italian experience. Walking into the contemporary space, with its tiled floors and 30 black-top tables, you’re immediately enveloped in aromas of ricotta and almond croissants, and cream and cherry tarts. What you’ll want to order, however, are the NYC-inspired hand-crafted hot chocolates created by Ettore Diana, a master barista and mixologist from Italy. While the Madonna features strawberries and a topping of whipped cream and chocolate shavings, the Lady Gaga swaps the fruit out for pistachios – interesting… There’s also the NY Yankee, a 70 percent dark chocolate garnished with biscotti, cookies, and lemon zest that owner Selvaggia Pizzetti recommends pairing with their chocolate ganache- and raspberry-laced tartufo. Delizioso.