Hot Cocoa

Tom Moore

The Country’s Best Hot Cocoa

The days are short and cold; you need hot cocoa

Austin

Despite being in Texas, Austin has a number of great places for hot cocoa such as Caffe Medici, Mozart’s Coffee Roasters, Monkey Nest Coffee, and Holy Cacao. But my No. 1 is at Summer Moon Coffee Bar. Known for its wood-fired coffee (the beans are roasted in a wood-fired oven), this coffee shop also churns out a shockingly delicious cup of cocoa.

– Leilani Lim-Villegas, City Editor

Boston

The Thinking Cup, a downtown coffee shop, is known for its fantastic brews but tucked into the “Teas and More” section of the menu lurks the French Hot Chocolate. Using 64 percent Tainori Valhrona Drinking Chocolate, this elevated hot cocoa is prepared by the shop’s expert baristas.

– Rachel Cossar, City Editor

Philadelphia

The Chocolate Cafe at Shane Confectionery. It might be more accurate to call it a hot cocoa geek shop.

It's in the back of an old-fashioned candy shop (Chippendale-style counters and all) in a historic building that's been used for candy-making since the mid-nineteenth century. The entire shop was re-opened in 2011 after a year of renovations, and everything's done the old-fashioned way still/again, including grinding the chocolate by hand. Hot chocolate options include single-origin, spicy, and a vegan choice with coconut milk. The only downside is that you have to walk through the candy shop (licorices from around the world, house-made chocolates, old-fashioned candies) to get in and out of the café, so you're going to leave with much more than just a delicious, hot drink.

– Susan H. Gordon, City Drinks Editor

New York City

Best hot cocoa shop: I like to make my own, but in case you can’t, use a classic in the lineup: I always love the Jacques Torres version in Dumbo; it's pretty much a cup of hot liquid chocolate.

– Susan H. Gordon, City Drinks Editor

I had one of my favorite cups of cocoa at L.A. Burdick in SoHo. The New England chocolatier has only opened four stores nationwide and drives the chocolates in weekly from the New Hampshire workshop. The shavings from its gourmet truffles are blended with milk (through a lot of whisking) for the luscious beverage. Offered in three flavors (white chocolate topped with nutmeg, milk chocolate with spices, and dark), I have to declare the dark the winner. It balanced the sweet and bitter into a perfect drink, but I encourage you to taste all three to find your favorite.

– Alyssa Haak, City Guide Editor

At Trademark Grind (38 West 36th St.) baristas have whipped up an over-the-top hot chocolate with cacao rouge, your choice of skim, almond or soy milk, and torched meringue. The concoction is topped with the signature “doffle,” a doughnut waffle mashup. So the pastry is in the hot chocolate. What else could you possibly want, people? Trademark Grind's Doffle Hot Chocolate is available for $8.

– Helaina Hovitz, City Editor

Seattle

A business that began with molten chocolate cakes is destined for hot cocoa greatness. Both Ballard and Capitol Hill locations of Hot Cakes dish out a variety of flavors. Try the NW Drinking Chocolate — Alder Wood smoked chocolate and organic cream steeped in orange peel and fir — and the S’mores Hot Cocoa — smoked chocolate topped with toasted marshmallow and graham cracker crumbs. Any beverage can be made boozy — a nip of scotch or Solerno, a blood orange liquor, are staff picks. 

– Alexis Steinman, City Editor

Toronto

My favorite in Toronto is from Boxcar Social, a local coffee shop. They serve a fab Bourbon Hot Chocolate with a toasted marshmallow on top. https://www.instagram.com/p/BMy25RxBLUl/?taken-by=petite.cow

– Karen Ng, City Editor

Washington, D.C.

Bayou Bakery

As a chef, pastry chef, restaurateur, and TV celebrity, David Guas is a wizard at the sweet stuff, and a visit to Bayou Bakery is like being in a homey Southern kitchen filled with the scent of baked cookies, caramel, and roasted nuts. On any winter day, you can find couples, families, and groups of friends slowly sipping warm cups of hot cocoa and nibbling on famous desserts. His decadent, bittersweet Bayou Hot Cocoa is made with Valrhona chocolate (64 percent cacao), milk from Trickling Springs Creamery, Madagascar vanilla, and sea salt, and garnished with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

– Summer Whitford, City Editor

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