Creamy, sweet, savory and sometimes even spicy, hot chocolate is an indulgent staple of the winter holiday season. We rounded up the most memorable hot chocolate experiences and photo-worthy displays, because in the era of Instagram, you enjoy first with the eyes and then with the other senses.
Hot Choc Doc, Chicago (seen above)
To combat Chicago’s infamous winter weather, the Four Seasons has installed a roving “Hot Choc Doc” who is on call to bring hot chocolate and every conceivable topping right to guests’ rooms. And for the adults who might say, “Oh, that’s cute, but none for me,” think twice: There’s an adults-only section of that cart, stocked with butternut rum and schnapps.
Pop It Like It’s Hot, Boston
A pop-up hot chocolate bar for charity, with a clever name that brings back youthful memories…well played, Revere Hotel! Revere chef Bader Ali has created gourmet Taza cocoa concoctions, like Nutella with Homemade Banana Whipped Cream, and in the holiday spirit, all drinks are priced at what you want to pay — “donations encouraged," because proceeds go to a local children’s charity. Visit this pop-up every Friday from 3-6 p.m. before it closes down on December 27.
Step right up and get your hot chocolate with all the fixings! The Rittenhouse has set up a hot chocolate station in their lobby, and everyone’s welcome to come in for cocoa — not just hotel guests. The doormen even hand out roast chestnuts and apple cider is on offer too. Sorry, teddy bear not included…but if you want one, inquire for seating at the Teddy Bear Tea.
Bourbon Hot Chocolate, Manhattan’s Lower East Side
Hot chocolate, a dash of Maker’s Mark, and a chocolate chip cookie, fresh-baked in-house and still warm from the oven. It’s the grown-up holiday version of afternoon milk and cookies — and a fall menu addition at Blue Ribbon Beer Garden. If you’re up for it, you can sit on the heated patio and watch the Lower East Side holiday crowds.
Green Chile Hot Chocolate, Santa Fe
Yes, some put green chile in absolutely everything, including hot chocolate — and why not? If the point of the beverage is to warm you up, a subtle dash of chile ups the heat and balances out the chocolate’s sweetness. This is actually New Mexico’s version on the traditional Mexican hot chocolate recipe that uses chipotle. Roasted ground green chile imparts a toasty, spicy, unique flavor. If you want the most elegant presentation in town, look to Terra restaurant in the Four Seasons Rancho Encantado.
Xocolatl, Punta Mita
Speaking of traditional Mexican hot chocolate, the Four Seasons property in Punta Mita, Riviera Nayarit has one of the most elaborate and artistic presentations. Drinkable chocolate has historic and cultural implications in the region, which was the first to cultivate cacao. Guests learn a little bit about that and taste multiple kinds of chocolate, including Azteca and Champurrado.
Hot Chocolate Buffet, Deer Valley
The DIY hot chocolate bars at the St. Regis Deer Valley, Utah are the delight of all who encounter them. The main one that the resort sets up is in a public area special for the holidays, and if you're fortunate enough to be staying on-property, you can request a personal sized one all to yourself. Delivered by the “hot chocolate butler,” it comes with steamed milk, pastilles of dark, milk and white chocolate, syrups, various garnishes...oh, and maybe Bailey’s.
Peanut Butter Frrrozen Hot Chocolate, Boca Raton
For all those who have had Frrrozen Hot Chocolate at the flagship Serenity 3 location in Manhattan, here’s great news — there’s an outpost of the famous dining spot at Boca Raton Resort & Club in Miami. It serves all the awesome flavors that the New York branch does, and you pretty much never have to wait for a table. You can even get yours to go and enjoy the surreal experience of watching people ice skate (at the Pink Rink!) and enjoying holiday treats while it’s 75 degrees out.
Hot Chocolate With Santa & at Astor Holiday Ice Rink, Atlanta
Take your pick of traditions at the St. Regis in Atlanta, where hot chocolate is available at Astor Holiday Ice Rink or as part of the afternoon Children’s Tea with Santa. Whether your kids like to zoom around on the ice or get dressed up and show off their table manners, the beverage choice will be the same. And it will no doubt involve whipped cream and sprinkles.
RHUMBAR Naughty Girl Scout, Las Vegas
Good luck finding something as wholesome as hot cocoa in Las Vegas, where the holidays bring booze-infused sippers named after questionable Halloween costumes. Available inside the Mirage Hotel & Casino, this is a pretty classic holiday concoction - once you get past the provocative name, of course. It's made with Bailey’s Mint Chocolate, peppermint schnapps, coffee, chocolate syrup and an Andes mint garnish.
Drinkable Chocolate Truffles, Anywhere
For all of you wondering, "What’s the easiest way to get this at home?" — well, there are a ton of gourmet cocoa mixes on the market today, from Norman Love and Taza to Christopher Elbow. For an easy-to-prepare “grown-up” recipe, double down on the good stuff with Crave liqueur (available in Chocolate Truffle, Chocolate Cherry, Chocolate Mint or Chocolate Chili) mixed with your favorite drinking chocolate.