Winter is coming. Or, to be more specific and less of an HBO fan, winter is already here in New York City. This means that, in all likelihood, you are very, very cold and the wish that you had a mug of something really warm has popped into your mind at least twice today. Sure, a cup of coffee might be nice, but you know what would really hit the spot? Hot chocolate. And you know what makes hot chocolate better? Booze. So we, quick thinkers that we are here at TheDailyMeal, have assembled for you all the best spiked cocoas in the city for when that Swiss Miss just won’t cut it.
Yes, alcoholic beverages, when combined with warm things, become the perfect winter treat, amplifying that warm feeling until you’re almost melting off your bar stool; and one of the best parts of New York City is that there are always different options for different occasions. Maybe you’re just making a quick resupplying mission before re-sealing yourself back into your apartment until April, in which case you’ll just want a cup of quality hot chocolate with a little somethin’ somethin’ extra, which means LA Burdick is your goal before you go back on a reality tv binge under 15 snuggies. Maybe you consider yourself a true New Yorker, able to have a party in any weather, and you see the snow and other frozen pedestrians outside as nothing but a challenge; in which case, get your swanky night out on without having any digits turn black by stopping at Gramercy Tavern for an expertly-crafted Hot Chocolate Martini.
At the end of the day, when you’re cold, mad about being cold, and sitting at a bar without a drink handy, a warm mug of chocolate with a shot inside seems designed specifically to lift you into a good mood, seasonal affective disorder be damned!
At the gastropub The Redhead in the East Village, it is quite apparent that they get the fundamental sense putting booze into hot chocolate makes. This is evidenced in their not one, but three spiked hot chocolate options. The fan favorite, though, has to be the Dark Chocolate Car Bomb, a delicious mix of hot chocolate, Jameson’s, Guinness, and a Bailey’s marshmallow. Instead of a car bomb, this is the smoothest ride you’re gonna find.
Unlike the other locations on this list, LA Burdick isn’t any bar. LA Burdick is a place where people take their chocolate very seriously, and also just happen to like booze on the side. From here you can pick from any one of their six single-origin hot chocolates, Dominican and Madagascan, for instance, and pick out a shot of either cherry brandy, pear liqueur, rum, or whiskey to spice up your artisan cocoa.
At Danny Meyer’s chic Gramercy Tavern there are many menu items that can break you out of the cold, but for something chocolately with a kick, there’s no comparing to the Hot Chocolate Martini. This classy take on the comforting beverage is infused with Vanilla Stoli and amaretto, taking the hot chocolate to the next level with almond-tinted goodness. Even better, they serve half and keep the other warm in a teapot, ensuring that every sip is just as warm as the last.
When that hard winter rolls around on the Lower East Side, people dream of a vacation to anywhere warm and sunny. Taking you there via hot chocolate cocktail, thank Jo’s in Nolita, where you can order their exotic take on hard cocoa. In their version, enjoy Macchu Pisco (the new hot liquor on the mixology scene), house-spiced Equadorian chocolate, Aztec chocolate bitters and orange. Enjoy the drink as you serenely picture yourself in an Andean ski lodge next to a warm, crackling fire.
Richard Sandoval supplies the Latin-infused flavors for Dohyo, the restaurant at Yotel in Hell’s Kitchen, and his flavors definitely end up leaking into the bar. Order up the Chile-Spiked Mexican Hot Chocolate at the bar and get, well, just that. The drink is made with two different tequilas, chocolate abuelita, a homemade ancho chile marshmallow and topped with a helpful dollop of whipped cream. The warm chocolate mixes well with the spice, because, after all, you can’t be that cold when your mouth is tingling with that good burn.
So, you’ve spent a day actually enjoying the cold weather at the skating pond at Bryant Park, embracing that which you cannot change. The idea seemed good at first, but now you’re freezing and need a drink to warm up. Thankfully, a whole ten steps away is pop-up bar and resto Celsius, and inside Celsius is exactly what you’re looking for. Order up the Snowcap at the bar, a concoction of hot chocolate, vanilla vodka and Kahlua to help take the edge off of enjoying the winter wonderland.
If you find yourself wandering the cold streets of Prospect Heights with no destination in mind, then your luck’s about to turn around. Follow the hordes of Whovians into The Way Station (yes, it’s a TARDIS in the back) and sit down for a warming, boozy Swiss Mistress. This hot chocolate, punched up with amaretto, should give you just enough courage to ask someone if that’s really in fact a jetpack up on the wall, not to mention give you back use of your fingers.