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, which is then mixed with steamed milk or even water, making it a vegan option. 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).
Other eateries have taken it a step further, this year introducing hot chocolate "bombs" (chocolate balls stuffed with goodies then melted by a hot liquid that's poured on top of it) and baskets, or charcuterie boards -- a display of treats to top your drink with or eat along with.
Check out these spots offering standout versions of the drink.
Toast Coffeehouse (9 S. Park Ave., Bay Shore): This carnival-themed breakfast-and-lunch spot offers a standard hot chocolate (also known as the gourmet hot chocolate), available in specialty options like s'mores and salted caramel, among others. Hot chocolate here is served in 20-ounce glasses for $4.95 and can be spiked with vanilla or coconut rum for $10.95. For an added twist, the Bay Shore Toast is selling hot chocolate "bombs:" for $11.95 you can get a milk chocolate ball in a mug, a side of steamed milk and either Bailey's Irish cream or whiskey -- when you drop in the steam milk it melts the ball and you get a spiked beverage to enjoy. Toast Bay Shore is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and weekends from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. More info: 631-647-9560, toastcoffeehouse.com (Other locations in Port Jefferson and Patchogue, and an express in Holbrook; menu options can differ between each outlet.)
For Five Coffee Roasters
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. Warm up with a 12-ounce cup for $5.25. For Five is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. More info: 516-918-9488, forfivecoffee.com
Broadway Gourmet Bagel Cafe & Caterers
Broadway Gourmet Bagel Cafe & Caterers (893 North Broadway, North Massapequa): Broadway Gourmet is now also serving hot chocolate "baskets." Three options include: a pre-made "Kid's Cocoa Basket," $20, with pre-made with hot chocolate mix, marshmallows, and festive candies. Then there's custom-made "Holly Jolly Hot Cocoa" baskets, $55, with a box of hot chocolate and cups for 10 people, plus fixings such as marshmallows, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, Pirouette cookies, brownies bites and Rice Krispie treats. A large order, $95, gets you enough goodies for 20 people. For an upcharge of $10-$15, customers can add doughnuts, crumb cake bites, cookies and other treats. More info: 516-797-4840, broadwaygourmetcaterers.com
Spoons Ice Cream & Cereal Bar
Spoons (3935 Merrick Rd., Seaford): This once-seasonal ice cream and cereal bar has extended into the winter season, and with that comes two new products: frozen hot chocolate and hot chocolate bombs. The former is made with chocolate and vanilla ice cream, hot chocolate mix and chocolate syrup. It's topped with whipped cream, marshmallows and more chocolate powder, $7.25 for 16 ounces. The hot chocolate bombs are made in-house by owner Sergio DeCiantis, who gets help from chef Stephanie Mincieli. Milk chocolate spheres are filled with Swiss Miss hot cocoa mix and say, Lucky Charms marshmallows. DeCiantis said he's still experimenting with other fillers, like Oreos, peppermint bark and cereal. The customer gets two cups, one with the chocolate bomb in it and the other with the exact amount of hot milk needed to melt the bomb. It's served in a to-go drink carrier that includes directions. Each bomb is 2 and 3/4 inches in diameter and costs $8.
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; check the menu for current options, which may include such rich flavors as S'mores, Spicy Dark Chocolate, Chocolate-Dunked Pretzel, Rice Krispy Treat and Black-And-White Cookie. Available in two sizes: 12 ounces for $3.50 (iced, $4) and 16 ounces for $4.50 (iced, $5). Specialty flavoring costs $1. Cash only. Coffee Booths is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. More info: 631-846-1966, coffeebooths.business.site
ITA Kitchen (45 W. Main St. in Bay Shore): This Italian restaurant offers a variety of bombs, from milk chocolate to white chocolate to milk chocolate with peppermint, all of which are bought from The Perfect Cupcake. The chocolate bombs, stuffed with cocoa powder and marshmallows, come in kid and adult versions. Kids get theirs with hot, steamed milk poured over it. Adults can choose from frothed RumChata or have it served with a side of Baileys Irish Cream or Frangelico. Recommended for dine-in, but takeout also available. Each bomb is approximately three inches in diameter and costs $6.95 (no liquor) or $10.95 (with liquor). More info: 631-267-5916. itakitchenbayshore.com
Massapequa Perk (117 Front St, Massapequa Park): At this coffeehouse across from the LIRR station, customers can sip on flavored hot cocoa drinks year-round -- traditional, mint chocolate, toasted marshmallow, raspberry, Chile chocolate, Nutella and peanut butter. Cocoa powder is mixed with steamed milk and one of the above mentioned syrups, which can then be topped with whipped cream, cinnamon, nutmeg and more. Available in three sizes: 12 ounces for $4, 16 ounces for $4.25 and 20 ounces for $5. Massapequa Perk is open weekdays from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., weekends from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. More info: m.facebook.com/Massapequa.perk
Costa Nova Waffle
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. A traditional small (12 ounces) is $2.75 and a large (16 ounces) is $3; a Nutella small is $3.25 and a large is $3.75. Costa Nova is open Mondays through Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fridays from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturdays from 11 p.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sundays from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. More info: 516-500-9802, costanovawaffle.com
Whiskey Down Diner
Whiskey Down Diner (252 Main St., Farmingdale): The old-fashion way of offering hot chocolate? Poured and served in a cup. Today's way of serving it? In a cup, accompanied by a charcuterie board of fixings. Expect nothing less from co-owner of Whiskey Down, Alyson Kanaras (who owns the diner with her brother John), who's also behind the diner's boozy hot chocolate lineup, dubbed Scott Calvin's Chocolate Bar (an homage to Tim Allen's character in "The Santa Clause" movie). Here, the board comes with an assortment of cookies ranging from gingerbread men to chocolate chip, a variety of marshmallows, candy cane spoons, chocolates and caramel. It's available for dine in ($30, includes hot chocolate) or pick up ($30, not including hot cocoa; packets can be added for an additional $1 each; traditional hot chocolate for $3.50 and boozy for $12). Feeds four, but consider this more of an experience than an after-dinner drink or dessert -- there's a lot to offer; Whiskey Down is open Mondays to Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. More info: 516, 927-8264, whiskeydowndiner.com
South Shore Dive
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 its hot chocolate. Previous years saw customers (for $12) get a 16-ounce mug of traditional or mint hot chocolate, which could then be spiked with RumChata or Stoli vanilla, among other booze, plus toppings like marshmallows, teddy grahams and gummy bears. South Shore Dive is open 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 1 p.m. until 12 a.m. Fridays, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 9:30 Sundays. More info: 631-218-6500, southshoredive.com
Grindstone Coffee & Donuts
Grindstone Coffee & Donuts (7A Main St., Sag Harbor): This hipster doughnut shop goes beyond its brioche-style doughnut variations -- its drinks list is made up of an impressive mix, too, including its hot chocolate. Try a traditional, or kick it up a notch with a spicy creation: Monin dark chocolate syrup, steamed whole milk, Saigon cinnamon and Cayenne pepper. It's then topped with a dusting of cocoa powder. Available in two sizes: 12 ounces for $5 and 16 ounces for $5.25. Grindstone is open daily 7 a.m.-4:30 p.m. More info: 631-808-3370, grindstonedonuts.com
Chip’n Dipped Chocolatier
Chip'n Dipped Chocolatier (342 New York Ave.,Huntington): In the 14 years Chip'n Dipped has been around, owner Peter Goldfarb has not only sold the average chocolate-covered treats like pretzels, dried fruit, brittle and cookies. He's also served up treats that aren't necessarily found everywhere, like custom s'mores, cookie-warming plates, edible cookie dough and now, hot chocolate bombs. Added to his chocolate lineup this fall, the "bombs" are made of dark chocolate and filled with ground chocolate and Dandies all-natural marshmallows. The three-inch balls cost $9.95 and are wrapped one per gift box. At Chip'n Dipped, customers can also order a traditional or salted caramel hot chocolate. Chip'n Dipped Chocolatier is open Mondays to Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. More info: 631-470-2579, chipndipped.com
Witches Brew Coffee House
Witches Brew Coffee House (311 Hempstead Turnpike, West Hempstead): This 25-year-old Gothic Victorian cafe that gives off Halloween-like vibes offers the confectionary drink in 30 flavors -- cocoa powder is infused with hot water and steamed milk, then mixed with syrup. Customers can choose from flavors like peanut butter, chocolate cupcake, raspberry and caramel. Another option is the half cocoa-half coffee drink (café au lait with cocoa powder and steamed milk), and it also offers a frozen hot chocolate and vegan option, too. These drinks can be topped with vegan marshmallows, shredded toasted coconut and sprinkles, to name a few. Available in two sizes: 11 ounces for $4 and 18 ounces for $5. Prices do not include toppings, which range from 75 cents to $1 each. Witches Brew is open Wednesdays through Sundays noon to 11 p.m. and does not accept reservations. More info: 516-489-9482, facebook.com/The-Witches-Brew-41854822214
Herrell's Ice Cream
Herrell's Ice Cream (46H Gerard St., Huntington): This Huntington Village ice cream parlor offers a variety of vegan hot chocolate beverages: original, malted, peppermint and coconut. The recipe is proprietary, but owner Cathy Meuser said cocoa and malt powder are mixed with water and used as the base. All are served in a 12-ounce cup and cost $4.15; add chocolate or original whipped cream for an additional 60 cents. Herrell's is open Wednesday through Sunday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. More info: 631-673-1100, herrellshuntington.com
The Chocolate Duck
The Chocolate Duck (310 Main St., Farmingdale): This 33-year-old chocolate shop is offering chocolate bombs in various shapes, from pumpkins and turkeys stuffed with hot chocolate mix, mini marshmallows and festive candies, to Santa, ornaments and snowflakes. The Chocolate Duck also takes custom orders where you can choose your own chocolate flavor, like pumpkin spice, mint chocolate or cranberry (call at least two days ahead to order). Each bomb is 2 and 3/4 inches in diameter and costs $5.75, or a pack of six for about $30. More info: 516-249-0887, chocolateduck.com