Complex. Thick. Just the right amount of sweet. We’re not describing your cuffing season, bae; we’re talking about hot chocolate! You can settle for the Swiss Miss stash hiding in the back of your pantry, but why do that when you’re surrounded by so many eclectic choices? These are some of the tastiest treats to drink when you’re looking for a sipping chocolate that’s out of the ordinary.
MOST INSTAGRAMMABLE: S’mores N’more’s Hot Chocolate
Manicure those nails, because you’re going to want to showcase what you’re drinking at the Lodge at Bryant Park. Even better: You can customize your mug to your liking! Dark chocolate base topped with a jiggly funfetti ’mallow? All yours! Nutella cocoa paired with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and a caramel drizzle? Our hearts are all aflutter. West 42nd Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)
While you’re here: Take a few (free!) laps around Bryant Park’s ice-skating rink.
MOST FLORAL: Ix’s Rose Cacao in Prospect Lefferts Gardens
Out of all the choices on its hot chocolate menu—yep, an entire section is dedicated to it—the cozy Guatemalan café’s floral cacao is the one that’s most surprising: pure melted chocolate brewed with roses and sprinkled with toasted coconut flakes. Order a side of rosemary churros to dunk into your cacao; it’ll be the best move you make all day. 43 Lincoln Road
While you’re here: Go ice-skating at Lefrak Center at Lakeside in nearby Prospect Park.
MOST HEALTHY-ISH: Café Kitsuné’s Matcha Hot Chocolate in the West Village
International lifestyle brand Maison Kitsuné isn’t just for hypebeasts coveting cool pullovers and vinyl. Now it has opened its first café in the States, a serene Parisian-style sit-down designed for lingering. And you’ll want to stick around when you’re sipping this white chocolate–based hot cocoa so you can savor every drop. Just to say you’re drinking on the healthier side, your sweet mugful is swirled with enough of the nutty green tea to leave you buzzing. 550 Hudson Street (at Perry Street)
While you’re here: Visit the Greenwich House.
NUTTIEST: Kahkow USA’s Chocodamia in Williamsburg
If you like your cocoa with a side of education, this Dominican chocolate boutique is the perfect classroom for you. It specializes in single-origin cacao bars and products, and one of its bestsellers is a sippable version of Kahkow’s luscious chocolate-macadamia spread. Its fruity, 70 percent organic dark chocolate melds with the smoothed-out buttery nut to form the base, then gets sprinkled with cacao powder for extra depth. The result? A warm, less sugary, and (somehow) more fulfilling substitute for Nutella. 97 North 10th Street, Space 1G
While you’re here: Browse through Rough Trade’s extensive collection of vinyl.
MOST DECADENT: Il Bambino’s Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate in Astoria
Warning: This one’s not for those who hate unadulterated joy. Milk chocolate and peanut butter are married at this Astoria paninoteca and melted together into one perfect mug of cocoa. In other words, it’s a liquefied Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. 34-08 31st Avenue
While you’re here: Swing by the Museum of the Moving Image to see what happens behind the scenes of your fave films and television shows.
BEST FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS: Bar Pisellino’s Ciocollato Caldo in the West Village
Jody Williams and Rita Sodi’s charming tribute to Italian drinking culture is as authentic as it comes. Their version of chocolate caldo is as thick as pudding, made even more so with a dollop of pillowy panna (Italian whipped cream) on top. 52 Grove Street (at Seventh Avenue South)
While you’re here: Pair your hot cocoa with a croissant or a cookie on this West Village pastry crawl.
BEST VEGAN VERSION: Confectionary’s Drinking Chocolate in the East Village
Your dairy-free comrades shouldn’t miss out on the joys of hot chocolate! The artisans behind this East Village sweet shop make their confections with all-organic, 100 percent vegan ingredients. But you’d never be able to tell when you’re sipping their extra-lush drinking chocolate, made with ganache whisked into house-made almond milk and buried underneath coconut whipped cream and gelatin-free marshmallows. 440 East 9th Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A)
While you’re here: Try on vintage garb at Mr. Throwback.
FOR TRUE CHOCOHOLICS ONLY: Blue Stripes Cacao Shop’s Chocolate Shot in Union Square
For purists, look no further than this decadent offering at Max Brenner’s newest venture: a bar of chocolate melted straight into a shot glass. 28 East 13th Street (between University Place and Fifth Avenue)
While you’re here: Take a leisurely stroll around the Union Square Farmers’ Market, which remains bustling even when it’s chilly outside.
THE CLASSIC: Li-Lac Chocolates’s Hot Cocoa Station in the West Village
You know you’re doing something right when you’ve maintained a loyal following for almost a century. Li-Lac’s spacious new home on Greenwich Avenue is not only serving the handheld treats generations know and love, but also drinkable versions of its signature milk chocolate. Capped off with a pile of shaved chocolate, this delicious mug will cast a lovely chocolaty spell on your brain for the duration of winter. 75 Greenwich Avenue (between Bank and West 11th Streets)
While you’re here: Get cultured at the Whitney Museum of American Art.