Some malcontents grouse about NYC's cold winter temperatures (we suspect they're the same people who spend the summer cranking up the AC in their apartments), but the City's positive thinkers know that chilly conditions are the perfect complement to a piping-hot mug of homemade cocoa. As such, we've compiled a list of excellent hot chocolate spots that'll warm your hands and tickle your taste buds this season.
200 Fifth Ave., 646-398-5100, Flatiron, Manhattan
The Italian superstore's Caffe Lavazza serves a very dark, very thick hot chocolate. An Eataly representative says that they make the drink by mixing an imported chocolate powder (which is not available for purchase at the store) with steamed milk and letting the concoction sit until it settles at its desired sludgy consistency.
1796 Broadway, 212-974-3444, Midtown West, Manhattan
233 Bleecker St., 212-206-1738, West Village, Manhattan
Fifth Avenue at West 72nd Street, Upper East Side, Manhattan (a food cart open from April through September)
The gianduja-flavored hot chocolate at Grom tastes like liquid Nutella. Yes, while it's best known for its gelato, this Italian import also pours a mean cocoa—giving those of us who won't eat anything frozen when the wind chill is below zero a reason to visit. They've also got dark- and milk-chocolate versions of the stuff, made with milk, cream and Venezuelan and Colombian chocolate.
Jacques Torres Chocolate
66 Water St., 718-875-1269, DUMBO, Brooklyn
285 Amsterdam Ave., 212-787-3256, Upper West Side, Manhattan
350 Hudson St., 212-414-2462, SoHo, Manhattan
Rockefeller Center, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, 212-664-1804, Midtown West, Manhattan
The man who may well be New York City's most famous chocolatier—and whose shop played a role in DUMBO's revitalization—offers "wicked" hot chocolate made with ancho and chipotle peppers, as well as a satisfying "classic" variety.
225 E. 60th St., 212-838-3531, Upper East Side, Manhattan
Serendipity 3's oxymoronic Frrrozen Hot Chocolate has a lot in common with the 2001 film Serendipity—both require extensive suspension of disbelief. Could such a convenient set of coincidences really unite John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale? Probably not. Can a beverage be simultaneously "frrrozen" and hot? Only when considering quantum physics. But if you don't think too hard, you might enjoy the movie and the drink all the same.
The Russian Tea Room
150 W. 57th St., 212-581-7100, Midtown West, Manhattan
Sure enough, the famed Russian Tea Room, home to such ornate decorations as a 20-foot-tall golden tree adorned with Venetian glass eggs—and whose menu features, for example, Golden Osetra caviar—offers its own "signature hot chocolate," complete with whipped cream and marshmallows. The toasty, tasty treat is a relatively affordable way to get a foot in the door at one of the City's fanciest eateries.
MarieBelle New York
484 Broome St., 212-925-6999, SoHo, Manhattan
MarieBelle is known for intricately designed handcrafted chocolates that look like miniature works of art. The staff at the confectionery's Cacao Bar and Tea Salon puts the same care into its dark, rich, pudding-thick Aztec hot chocolate, which comes in European (made with water) and American (made with milk) varieties. It's also available in spicy and iced versions (the latter served only in the summer).
The City Bakery
3 W. 18th St., 212-366-1414, Union Square, Manhattan
This Union Square–area mainstay peddles delightfully viscous liquid cocoa, which—while satisfying enough in its simplest form—is featured in many imaginative iterations at the bakery's own Hot Chocolate Festival every February. Last year’s flavors included ginger, banana peel and something called "Ode to the Polar Bear."
21 Clinton St., 212-677-7417, Lower East Side, Manhattan
228 Seventh Ave., 718-499-4080, Park Slope, Brooklyn
Cocoa Bar offers mint, cinnamon, spice and banana twists on hot chocolate. To make it, the staff melts down Belgian dark chocolate and mixes it with water or milk (dairy, soy or almond). For those who prefer their beverages alcoholic, the staff is glad to suggest chocolate-and-alcohol pairings.
The Chocolate Room
269 Court St., 718-246-2600, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
Though we're disappointed that this is not actually a room made out of chocolate, we appreciate the Brooklyn institution’s diverse lineup of liquid cocoa concoctions, including "classic," dark, spicy...and even a hot chocolate float.
Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bald Man
841 Broadway, 646-467-8803, Union Square, Manhattan
Dessert tycoon Max Brenner (a fictional character who's a composite of the venue's two founders) serves hot chocolate in a specially designed "hug mug," which encourages patrons to hold the drink with both hands for maximum comforting effect. The cocoa is available in milk, dark and white chocolate versions.
134 W. Broadway, 212-791-1360, TriBeCa, Manhattan
401 E. 20th St., 212-727-1505, Gramercy, Manhattan
44 W. 17th St., 212-727-2989, Chelsea, Manhattan
Petite Abeille gets its name from a Belgian children's book—the moniker means "little bee." Belgium is known for its waffles, beer and chocolate, and these representatives don't let diners down on any of those fronts. The hot chocolate is made from 70% Callebaut chocolate, which is shaved, melted down and mixed with whole milk and a little bit of half-and-half.