An international guide to fancy cocoa

By Amanda Ogle
December 14, 2018
Dominique Taylor/Courtesy of the Four Seasons

Crisp air, falling snow, and cozy sweaters are all winter staples. But what’s winter without a mug of comforting hot chocolate? The powdered, just add water kind is fine for those times you’re surrounded by friends and family in the comfort of your home. But every now and then you have to splurge on an upgraded cup made with fresh and decedent homemade chocolate.

From New England to New Mexico and France to Colombia, we’ve searched far and wide to find the best hot chocolates around the world to make your colder months a little more delicious.

Casey I./Yelp.com

The Old Chocolate House: Bruges, Belgium

A family-run business, The Old Chocolate House boasts an extensive range of chocolates and hot chocolates, and a tea room for enjoying other sweets and their famous waffles. Hot chocolate varieties come in milk, dark, white, and single-origin selections. Try their forbidden hot chocolates, made with spirits like Grand Marnier, rum, amaretto, and Bailey’s. Don’t forget to top your hot chocolate with to-die-for garnishes like a marshmallow, Rice Krispies treats, whipped cream, or gingerbread crunch.

Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail: Vail, Colorado

Known as “Haute Chocolate,” this mug of decadent, creamy hot chocolate is made with Valrhona chocolate and steamed milk, and arrives in a traditional French hot chocolate pot at one of Vail’s best hotels. After it’s churned tableside, the hot chocolate is poured into a mug topped with a dark chocolate lattice and a homemade marshmallow nestled inside. As the hot chocolate is poured, the chocolate lattice melts into the cup and the marshmallow makes the already dreamy drink a creamy masterpiece.

Angelina: Paris, France

Founded in 1903, Angelina has been an icon in Paris for over a century and a high-society establishment known for its sophistication and elegance. Their famous African hot chocolate comes from a secret recipe made of African cocoa from Niger, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast, specially created for Angelina. The combination of these chocolates from different countries gives the hot chocolate a thick, rich taste, and the fresh whipped cream served with it lends for a luscious experience.

Caffé Rivoire: Florence, Italy

A legend in Florence, Caffé Rivoire began in 1872 when Enrico Rivoire, chocolatier of the Savoy royal family, opened up shop. Try their hot chocolate denso, an Italian version of hot chocolate almost as rich as chocolate pudding, topped with homemade whipped cream.

Courtesy of Aliza J. Sokolow

Mindy’s Hot Chocolate: Chicago, Illinois

James Beard Award-winning chef Mindy Segal opened her eatery in 2005 after working in some of Chicago’s finest restaurants, and fans rave about her hot chocolate served with a chunky house-made marshmallow. Varieties include the “Chocolate Mint” with fresh mint, French white chocolate, French milk chocolate, Belgian white chocolate, and “The Boozy,” where a shot of cognac, brandy, whiskey, or rum is added to your choice of hot chocolate.

City Bakery: New York City, New York

What started as a small operation on a side street in Union Square in 1990 has turned into a hot chocolate empire. Owner Maury Rubin has used the same hot chocolate recipe from the start to create a deep, dark hot chocolate perfect for a chilly NYC day. Order the original version for a rich treat and don’t forget to add a homemade marshmallow cube.

Chocolate Mayordomo: Oaxaca, Mexico

This family-run business has been creating hot chocolate and chocolate products since 1956. Mayordomo uses natural ingredients like cocoa, cinnamon, almonds, and sugar to create a rich hot chocolate unique to Oaxaca. There are numerous branches of Chocolate Mayordomo in Oaxaca, where guests can see how the company processes its chocolate.

E. Wedel Hot Chocolate: Poland

As the oldest Polish brand of chocolate, dating back to 1851, E. Wedel has created a refined brand of drinking chocolates served in “Chocolate lounges” across Poland. Their hot chocolates come in selections like bitter, slightly bitter, milk, double milk, white, and more. You can also get your hot chocolate with flavors like “raspberries in wine,” and “caramel with sea salt.”

Courtesy of Kakawa Chocolate House

Kakawa Chocolate House: Santa Fe, New Mexico

Founded in 2005, Kakawa—an Olmec word meaning chocolate or cacao—specializes in drinking chocolate elixirs based on recipes recreated from historical sources. These hot chocolates range from pre-Colombian to colonial American to contemporary creations, and are served in small hand-painted mugs from Oaxaca, Mexico. Try the Chili Elixir, made with spicy chilies, or the Jefferson Elixir, inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s own recipe.

L.A. Burdick: New England

Established in New York City in 1987, L.A. Burdick Chocolate now has multiple locations across New England, producing some of the best chocolates and hot chocolates in the world. L.A. Burdick cafes sell dark, milk, and white hot chocolates, as well as single-source varieties from places like Ecuador, Madagascar, Bolivia, and Peru.

La Puerta Falsa: Bogota, Colombia

In Bogota, head to La Puerta Falsa to experience chocolate completo—hot chocolate served with a small piece of cheese and buttered bread. Don’t be afraid, the sweet hot chocolate combined with salty bread and cheese will leave you never wanting to go back to traditional hot chocolate. Drop small pieces of the cheese into the hot chocolate and let it melt, then use the bread for dipping. No need to thank us.

Café Schober: Zurich, Switzerland

The secret to this Old Town Zurich café’s rich, creamy hot chocolate? Melting chocolate into whole milk for an impossibly decadent winter treat. Order yours with a dollop of fresh cream whipped into peaks resembling the surrounding alpines, or add in a shot of espresso for an afternoon pick-me-up.

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