These days, almost anywhere you go you’ll find a menu of classics that come with a twist. When it comes to hot chocolate, that blueprint still applies.
Some restaurants stick to cocoa powder, while others use syrups or chunks of chocolate. Many also let customers get creative with their hot chocolate, too, from toppings (chocolate chips, s’mores and even gummy bears), all the way down to the milk (almond, soy, oat, whole, skim, half and half) and yes, booze (vanilla rum and RumChata, for starters).
Check out these spots offering standout versions of the drink.
South Shore Dive (65 Main St., West Sayville): At this trendy pub and restaurant, craft brews, cocktails and comfort food are the draw, and on Sunday nights through the winter, so is hot chocolate. Get a mug of traditional or mint hot chocolate, which can be spiked with RumChata or Stoli vanilla, plus add toppings like marshmallows, Teddy Grahams and gummy bears. Live music and a snow machine add to the vibe. More info: 631-218-6500, southshoredive.com
The French Workshop (191 7th St., Garden City): This French-style bakery, which recently opened its second Long Island location, brings three types of hot cocoa to the table: classic hot, white chocolate and Nutella. The shop uses authentic chocolate — Monin for the white and Valrhona for the classic — for a tasty, rich cup of cocoa. Nutella is combined with steamed milk and ice for the third offering. Top your drink off with a sprinkle of cinnamon or classic housemade whipped cream. (Other location at 417 S. Oyster Bay Rd., Plainview). More info: 516-248-6800, thefrenchworkshop.com
Druthers Coffee (1113 North Country Rd., Stony Brook): Melted-down white Callebaut chocolate and oat milk are infused with chamomile, lavender, spearmint, lemon myrtle and butterfly pea flower to create Druthers’ aptly named blue cocoa. Also on special through the winter: spicy cocoa (a dark chocolate and oat milk version infused with cayenne pepper and orange zest). If you want to stick to the basics — there’s also a classic vegan hot chocolate. Served hot or cold. More info: druthers.coffee
For Five Coffee Roasters (292 Plandome Rd., Manhasset): The sleek For Five cafe may be known for its roster of coffee, but don't side step the hot chocolate (made with chocolate ganache and steamed milk). Before it's served, a barista will finish it with an Instagram-worthy design. More info: 516-918-9488, forfivecoffee.com
Grindstone Coffee & Donuts (7A Main St., Sag Harbor): This hipster doughnut shop also offers an impressive drinks list. Try a traditional hot chocolate or kick it up a notch with a spicy creation, the Mayan Mocha, made with Monin dark chocolate syrup, steamed whole milk, Saigon cinnamon and Cayenne pepper, and topped with a dusting of cocoa powder. More info: 631-808-3370, grindstonedonuts.com
Coffee Booths (226 Middle Country Rd., Selden): Specialty lattes are just the tip of the iceberg at this hidden gem. The family-owned and operated spot has a housemade hot chocolate on the menu (melted Belgium chocolate, sugar and a hint of Ghiradelli Classic White vanilla chips mixed with milk and steamed; topped with whipped cream and drizzling of chocolate), but any of its 15 specialty lattes can instead be made with a hot chocolate base. Options may include such rich flavors as s’mores, spicy dark chocolate, chocolate-dunked pretzel, Rice Krispy Treat and black-and-white cookie. Cash only. More info: 631-846-1966, coffeebooths.business.site
Whiskey Down Diner (252 Main St., Farmingdale): Sister and brother duo Alyson and John Kanaras are slinging more than just pancakes and eggs at their diner. Ahead of the holidays each year, the duo extends its drink menu to include Scott Calvin’s Boozy Hot Chocolate Bar (an homage to Tim Allen's character in "The Santa Clause.") It consists of five spiked hot chocolates — peppermint, s’mores, peanut butter, salted caramel and rainbow cookie; $12 each — and will be available through the winter. The drinks are made with a Nestle rich cocoa base, then jazzed up with liquor and toppings unique to each flavor. New this year: a flight of three five-ounce versions for dine-in only; $15 a flight. More info: 516-927-8264, whiskeydowndiner.com
Toast Coffeehouse (9 S. Park Ave., Bay Shore): This carnival-themed breakfast-and-lunch spot offers a standard hot chocolate, also available in specialty options like s'mores and salted caramel. Hot chocolate here is served in 20-ounce glasses and can be spiked with vanilla or coconut rum. The Bay Shore Toast is also selling hot chocolate "bombs"-- a milk chocolate ball served in a mug with a side of steamed milk and either Bailey's Irish cream or whiskey. (Other locations at 242 East Main St. in Port Jefferson and 46 East Main St. in Patchogue). More info: 631-647-9560, toastcoffeehouse.com
Costa Nova Waffle (211 2nd St., Mineola): This dainty waffle house that transports you straight to Portugal with its décor and food offers two hot chocolate options: Nutella and traditional. Both are made with Ghirardelli chocolate powder, which is mixed with water and steamed milk, then topped with a mocha drizzle or marshmallows. If you order the Nutella, the hazelnut spread is slathered on the inside of the cup. More info: 516-500-9802, costanovawaffle.com
Soul Brew (556 Route 25A, Saint James): Since its inception in 2016, this coffee shop has been creating whimsical cups of joe. The same rings true for its hot chocolates, sometimes topped with Oreos, whipped cream, cinnamon, sprinkles or cereals. Standards on the menu include s’mores, peanut butter and banana, but turn to its extensive latte menu for more adventurous flavors like Cinnabon, apple pie, crunch berry, rainbow cookie or butter beer (for a hot chocolate, the base of the drink is swapped from an espresso to a Ghirardelli chocolate sauce base). Available hot or chilled. (Other locations at 2718 Grand Avenue, Bellmore 556 and 387 New York Ave., Huntington.) More info: 631-250-9238, soulbrew.coffee
Witches Brew Coffee House (311 Hempstead Turnpike, West Hempstead): This Gothic Victorian cafe offers hot chocolate in 30 flavors — cocoa powder is infused with hot water and steamed milk, then mixed with syrup, allowing customers to choose from flavors like peanut butter, chocolate cupcake, raspberry and caramel. For a caffeine boost, try the half cocoa-half coffee (café au lait with cocoa powder and steamed milk). All drinks can be topped with marshmallows, shredded toasted coconut, sprinkles and more. More info: 516-489-9482