The classic cup of hot chocolate is all good and fine, but sometimes a little deviation from tradition is just what cold weather demands. Here are four unusual spins on cocoa that we've enjoyed recently around New York.
Over at Chocolate Bar in the West Village, they're serving up frothy-topped spiced hot chocolate that officially goes by the name liquid chocolate. The name doesn't lie. It comes with a heady infusion of ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom. But it's the kick of allspice that makes this particularly memorable. Sip slowly, a little goes a long way.
Slightly further north is Donatella, where pastry chef Andrea Jarosh (formerly of Union Square Cafe) turns out holiday eggnog and a Nutella Hot Chocolate that is alone worth a visit. It's topped with a fluffy vanilla marshmallow cube that starts melting the minute it hits the table. The Nutella blends in seamlessly with the semi-sweet chocolate base, creating a velvety textured drink that's not excessively rich but highly drinkable, with the hazelnut flavors up front. Come in the late afternoon and grab a window seat to watch the world pass by.
White chocolate lovers should seek out the Bianca at Vosges Haute Chocolat. A delicate white chocolate base is scented with lavender flowers, with an extra dose of vanilla to keep things fragrant but not too floral. Lemon myrtle adds a faint citrus note that lingers after each sip. It's not very heavy—more elegant than indulgent, and also available as a boxed mix for gift-giving.
And if you're up for a boozy hot chocolate, look no further than Gramercy Tavern for the Hot Chocolate Martini. Silky, dark hot chocolate is spiked with Stoli Vanil Vodka and amaretto. It certainly won't curb cravings for an old fashioned mug of cocoa and marshmallows, but for darker nights, this is an ideal route. It's sweeter that expected with traces of almond running though each sip—a dessert and drink in one. The glass is filled just under half, with the remaining portion held warm in a teapot to ensure that every sip will be a hot one.