What could possibly warm us up in NYC winters faster than hot chocolate’s medley of milk, chocolate, and whipped cream? The addition of any booze. Bartenders have caught on, incorporating everything from whiskey and amaro to pumpkin beer and vodka into their very adult spins on the childhood favorite. Just in time to help us battle winter’s final stretch, here are the city’s five best bets for boozy cocoa.
SPIKED HAZELNUT HOT COCOA at STREETS RESTAURANT
The team here set out to make a boozier and nuttier version of the chocolate dipping sauce that accompanies their churros. The outcome? A hot toddy glass of Mexican chocolate, heated milk, hazelnut liqueur, and vodka, all of which is garnished with a cinnamon stick.
THIN MINT HOT CHOCOLATE at BOUNCE SPORTING CLUB
Too impatient to hold out for Girl Scout cookie season, bartender Spencer Elliott created a drinkable version of the crowd favorite of the bunch: thin mints. To do so, he infuses whiskey with peppermint, which he then matches up with earthy amaro, hot chocolate, whipped cream and mint bitters for badge-worthy results.
NAUGHTY AND NICE HOT CHOCOLATE at LAMBS CLUB
Inspired to create a hot chocolate cocktail that would reflect both fall and winter, bartender Garry Severin turned to a combination of pumpkin, chocolate, and spice notes that show up by way of Sailor Jerry spiced rum, Pumking spiced beer, and melted chocolate. After shaking and steaming all ingredients, he pours them into a hot toddy glass, which he tops off with chocolate shavings.
LIKE MAMA MADE IT at BOULTON & WATT
Black forest cake takes on cocktail form at this Lower East Side hangout, where bartender Jaime Felber created a steamer of some of her favorite flavors. This mug gets it all, from espresso and chocolate syrup, to Cherry Heering and coconut shavings. But our favorite part? A cookie rim, which Felber accomplishes by smashing up either Tate’s Chocolate Chips or Oreos.
CHOCOLATE CALIENTE at FONDA
Patrons have their pick between rum or brandy for the hot chocolate at these neighborhood Mexican restaurants. After that tough choice, it’s chef/owner Roberto Santibañez who handles the hard work: breaking Abuelita chocolate into small pieces to melt in cinnamon-infused boiling milk, which he quickly whisks until the pot reads frothy, chocolately goodness.
THE SUGAR AND SPIKED HOT CHOCOLATE at HUDSON BAR
Wintery flavors abound in this offering from bartender Tony Gonzalez, who heats milk, cinnamon sticks, brown sugar, and fig-infused cocoa before stirring in rich Jamaican rum. He then transfers the tipple into a mug, which is garnished with all the fixings: homemade whipped cream, cinnamon dust, and a candied fig.
By Nicole Schnitzler
(Photos from left: Thin Mint Hot Chocolate at Bounce Sporting Club; Like Mama Made It at Boulton & Watt; Sugar and Spiked Hot Chocolate at Hudson Bar courtesy of Hudson Hotel)