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 local restaurants stick to cocoa powder, while others use syrups or chunks of chocolate, which is then mixed with steamed milk or even some plain ol’ 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).
Check out these 10 spots offering standout versions of the drink.
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 weekdays from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on weekends from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. More info: 516-918-9488, forfivecoffee.com
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) and four specialty options -- s'mores, toasted coconut, Nutella banana and salted caramel. Each drink is made with Hershey chocolate syrup and steamed milk. Added syrups give each their own unique flavoring, like this option, which is then topped with sea salt and caramel. Hot chocolate here is served in 20-ounce glasses for $4.95 and can be spiked with vanilla or coconut rum for $10. (Other locations in Port Jefferson and Patchogue, and an express in Holbrook.) 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
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 include s'mores, strawberry Pop-Tart, chocolate chip cookie dough, Rice Krispy Treat and cinnamon bun. 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 everyday but Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. More info: 631-846-1966, coffeebooths.business.site
Massapequa Perk (117 Front St., Massapequa Park): At this coffeehouse across from the LIRR station, customers can sip on seven 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 $4.50. Massapequa Perk is open weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. More info: m.facebook.com/Massapequa.perk
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 bar. For $12, customers can get a 16-ounce mug of traditional or mint hot chocolate. Get it spiked with RumChata or Stoli vanilla, among other booze, plus toppings like marshmallows, teddy grahams and gummy bears. South Shore Dive is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. More info: 631-218-6500, southshoredive.com
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 opened Mondays through Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 10 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
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 Sundays through Thursdays from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. More info: 631-808-3370, grindstonedonuts.com
Witches Brew Coffee House
Witches Brew Coffee House (311 Hempstead Tpke., West Hempstead): This 24-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 Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays from noon to 12 a.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 1 a.m. Closed Mondays. It does not accept reservations. More info: 516-489-9482, facebook.com/The-Witches-Brew-41854822214
Herrell's Ice Cream
Herrell's Ice Cream (46L Gerard St., Huntington): This Huntington Village ice cream parlor offers a variety of vegan hot chocolate beverages: original, malted, peppermint, coconut and Mexican (with cinnamon). 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 Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 9 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 10:30 p.m. More info: 631-673-1100, herrellshuntington.com
Whiskey Down Diner
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 less than a year old diner. Ahead of Christmas they added a section to its menu dubbed Scott Calvin's Chocolate Bar (an homage to Tim Allen's character in The Santa Clause movie). It consists of four spiked hot chocolates -- peppermint, s'mores, salted caramel and frozen hot chocolate -- and will be available through the winter. Each drink is made with a Hershey semisweet chocolate chip base, then jazzed up with liquor and toppings unique to each drink. The Frozen Hot Chocolate, pictured here, includes marshmallow fluff, chocolate ice cream, old tymer chocolate moonshine and chocolate syrup. A 10-ounce serving is yours for $12. The modernized diner also offers a traditional, non-spiked hot chocolate for $3.50. Whiskey Down Diner is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. More info: 516-927-8264, whiskeydowndiner.com