Someday, winter weather will finally come (maybe) and then, it will be time to indulge in one of the season’s most underrated delicacies: hot chocolate. Here are a few mugs and cups of molten chocolate we're looking forward to clutching this season.
EL REY Leave it to weird-flavored-ice-cream master Nicholas Morgenstern to deliver one of the season’s most interesting chocolate drinks. Although you may have heard about the limited-time offering of a bone broth hot chocolate, which you can try through Christmas at Morgenstern’s ice cream shop, there’s also a great hot chocolate drink at Morgenstern’s popular, casual and tasty Lower East Side luncheonette.
Chef Gerardo Gonzales has crafted a Brownie Batter Hot Chocolate ($4), basically a brownie batter minus the flour, featuring Valrhona dark cocoa powder, butter and cream, heated and whipped together until it develops a marshmallow-like consistency, and topped with a pinch of smoked sea salt.
El Rey is located at 100 Stanton Street on the Lower East Side, (212) 260-3950; elreynyc.com
IL BUCO ALIMENTARI Try having your next date at the super cute, casual bar space at the front of Il Buco Alimentari. It’s the perfect spot to sip a mug of chocolatier Genevieve Meli’s (possibly spiked) hand-crafted hot chocolate made with Valrhona’s Guanaja chocolate (70 percent dark, 30 percent white, for extra creaminess).
A few different flavors are on offer: rosemary, smoked cinnamon, and burnt orange. Each is garnished with housemade spiced marshmallows, which are dusted with an insanely good, warming spice blend called Orchidea n.34 blend, created by master spice blender Lior Lev Sercarz, of La Boîte. ($6, or $10 if you add a shot of Vernelli, an anise-based liquor).
Il Buco Alimentari is located at 53 Great Jones Street in NoHo, (212) 837-2622; ilbucovineria.com
MARIEBELLE With its old-fashioned decor and housemade chocolate confections, MarieBelle is a gem. Try a few samples before choosing from one of the innovative and delicious options. There are about twenty different flavors ($5.44 for small, $7.62 for large): milk chocolate with freshly ground hazelnuts, white chocolate with banana (from actual, natural banana), or white chocolate with Tahitian vanilla. These are rich and decadent, but not overly sweet.
MarieBelle is located at 484 Broome Street in SoHo, (212) 925-6999; mariebelle.com
L.A. BURDICK This chocolatier specializes in “single-source” hot chocolate, which is made European-style, meaning, it’s basically just liquid chocolate (as opposed to chocolate with milk added). That is a good thing if you’re a chocoholic, but it can also be a little intense and rich. If you’re ready to dive in, there are three flavors: white, milk, and dark (small $4.90, large $6.26). You’ll probably want to have a little piece of coconut chocolate cake with that drink, too.
L.A. Burdick is located at 5 East 20th Street in the Flatiron, (212) 796-0143; burdickchocolate.com
(Madison & Vine)
MADISON & VINE If you’re in Midtown, and need a place to grab a drink after work, head to the cozy, understated, and welcoming restaurant at the Library Hotel, Madison and Vine. In the winter, they offer a spiked hot chocolate made with brandy, dark creme de cacao, spiced hot chocolate, and topped with whipped cream ($15). The seasonal New American food here is very good, too, so you may want to stay for dinner.
Madison & Vine is located at 299 Madison Avenue in Midtown East, (212) 867-5535; hospitalityholdings.com
HECHO EN DUMBO There’s nothing like the warming effects of spicy Mexican hot chocolate; it’s practically a liquid blanket. Try it at Hecho en Dumbo, a contemporary Mexico City-inspired restaurant on the Bowery. They offer a delicious Mexican hot chocolate called Champurrado, which is thickened with fresh masa (tortilla dough), and spiced up with cinnamon and Mexican vanilla. Try it as a dessert option, with sweet empanadas ($9); or have it on its own for $4 ($12 if you spike it with rum).
Hecho en Dumbo is located at 354 Bowery in NoHo, (212) 937-4245; hechoendumbo.com
VOILA CHOCOLAT Grab your kids, or opt for a wholesome booze-free date, and head to this make-your-own chocolate shop for a fun afternoon activity. While you’re there, sip on a rich and creamy gourmet hot chocolate, made with all natural ingredients. Flavors include pumpkin spice, spicy “Daredevil,” Matcha, banana, peppermint, and more ($4.55 and up).
Voila Chocolat is located at 221 West 79th Street on the Upper West Side, (212) 920-8799; voila-chocolat.com
Books. Hot chocolate. Those together equal wintertime happiness. Beloved indie bookstore McNally Jackson makes an awesome version of hot chocolate, featuring Agostoni dark chocolate from Italy, melted with hot water and slowly blended with steamed Hudson Valley milk ($4).
McNally Jackson is located at 52 Prince Street in Nolita, (212) 274-1160; mcnallyjackson.com
THE CHOCOLATE ROOM Sustainably-sourced chocolate is the base for the delectable desserts and drinks at this Brooklyn cafe with two beautiful, cozy locations. The Chocolate Room works directly with a fair trade cocoa cooperative in Madagascar for some of their offerings, although they also sell locally-made Mast Brothers chocolate, and use Belgian chocolate and Valhrona cocoa in their creamy and rich hot drinks ($5.25, or $7 if you add an espresso shot), which come topped with a large housemade marshmallow. There are a few spiked hot chocolate options, too.
The Chocolate Room has two locations: 269 Court Street in Cobble Hill, (718) 246-2600, and 51 5th Avenue in Park Slope, (718) 783-2900; thechocolateroombrooklyn.com
CITY BAKERY The hot chocolate offerings at this NYC-based bakery chainlet are so popular that every year, the company dedicates an entire month to celebrating them. Their thick, rich chocolate drinks—which they've offered in unusual flavors including Lemon, Beer and Banana Peel—are delicious, but for many, the marshmallow toppers are what make the drinks so special. The puffy white treats sit like a giant iceberg floating in a sea of chocolate heaven.
MAX BRENNER And there’s always this classic chocolate-focused restaurant, serving various hot chocolate drinks in Union Square. There are 8 options, at $5.95 each, and they arrive in a white ceramic “hug mug” designed to be held neatly in both hands.
Max Brenner is located at 841 Broadway in Greenwich Village, (646) 467-8803; maxbrenner.com