As the snow comes down, it’s time to turn the heat up on our beverages. Here are some of the best places in the area to get over-the-top Hot Chocolate. Includes spiked Hot Chocolate for adults only, and tamer versions for children.
Rittenhouse: Gran Caffe L’Aquila
The rich, decadent Hot Chocolate at Gran Caffe L’Aquila is like a love child between hot cocoa and chocolate pudding. The authentic Italian restaurant uses its own proprietary chocolate blend and it will transport you to an Italian chocolate paradise. Gran Caffe L'Aquila's artisanal hot chocolate features notes of citrus, flowers, dried berries, molasses and sweet spice. Drink it at the restaurant's heated outdoor dining area on Chestnut between 17th & 18th, do curbside pick up and then enjoy it across the street at John F. Collins Park or have it delivered and make it at home.
West Chester: Bar Avalon
The warm S'mores-tini at Bar Avalon on East Gay Street in charming downtown West Chester proves that a picture is worth a thousand words. The decadent drink is topped with charred marshmallows.
Old City: Shane Confectionery
The oldest continuously operating confectionery serves decadent hot chocolate. Order the Shane Signature Hot Chocolate, kick it up a notch with the Royal Spanish Drinking Chocolate with Cinnamon and Chili Pepper, or order Shane’s amazing House Drinking Chocolate made with a combination of milk and dark chocolate. Or send it to a friend. That’s a gift that is sure to be warmly received.
Market East: Loews Philadelphia Hotel
POD Market just inside the Loews Philadelphia Hotel on East Market Street, warms up guests with its signature Hot Chocolate trimmed with whipped cream, marshmallows and chopped chocolate.
South Philly: Rim Cafe
Don’t miss the Chocolate Volcano, a thick rich, hot chocolate drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauce at Rim Cafe. Sit outside by the space heaters at this French coffee shop in the Italian Market. Or try a Créme Brûlée Volcano and watch them roast the marshmallows with a blow torch. Rim's newest warm libation is a Hot Chocolate Bomb that melts in your cup.
Queen Village: Aurora Grace
Chocolatier Aurora Wold honed her skills at New York’s Jean-Georges and Danny Meyer’s Eleven Madison Park before opening a chocolate boutique just off South Street. Order a jar of artisanal sipping chocolate online for next day pick up. And don't forget to get homemade marshmallows. They come in flavors like vanilla bean, white chocolate peppermint, raspberry and mango passionfruit.
Midtown Village: McGillin’s Olde Ale House
McGillin’s is the oldest continuously operating tavern in Philadelphia and one of the oldest in the nation. So it knows a thing or two about creating enticing drinks. The Snowshoe is Hot Chocolate and your choice of butterscotch liquor, Kilebeggan Irish Whiskey or Rumple Minze Peppermint Schnapps topped with whipped cream. Or opt for the Boozy Chai Latte with chai tea, Bulleit Bourbon, star anise, whipped cream and a cinnamon stick or Honey Hot Toddy made with Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey.
Schuylkill River Banks: Cosmic Cafe
If you’re walking along the Schuylkill River Banks and you get chilly, the best way to warm up is with a Hot Chocolate at Cosmic Cafe. Knowing it’s on your route, might just make you pick up the pace to get there a little sooner. Or wrap your mittens around a Hot Apple Cider from Lancaster Farm Fresh as you take it the scenery on Boathouse Row. Adults can add a shot to either drink.
Chinatown: Ray’s Cafe & Tea House
Hot Chocolate from Ray's Cafe & Tea House in Chinatown can be dressed up by adding flavors such as peppermint or salted caramel and whipped cream.
Kennett Square: Talula's Table
Live in Chester County? Grab a Hot Chocolate at the Market at Talula's Table or order online. This delightful market is offering traditional Hot Chocolate as well as Mexican Hot Chocolate, if you want to spice things up a bit, and Peppermint Hot Chocolate. Topped with whipped cream, of course!
New Hope: Sciascia Confections
Grab a package of Sciascia's European Drinking Chocolate made with 70% dark chocolate, take it home, add boiled milk and you'll feel like you're drinking your favorite candy bar. It's thick and rich! Or opt for Mayan Drinking Chocolate flavored with cinnamon and cayenne pepper. The dark chocolate and cinnamon hits your palate first and then the heat kicks in. Available at Sciascia Confections in New Hope's Ferry Market, in Stockton Market in Stockton, NJ or online.
South Street: Jet Wine Bar
This South Street favorite is offering Mexican Hot Chocolate with a little zing. It’s made with Abuelita Mexican chocolate melted into whole milk and finished with tequila, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and other spices. Available by the serving or in a 4-serving thermos.
South Street: Rex 1516
Rex 1516, a South Street staple, is warming whistles with Whiskey Whipped and Spiced, an adult Hot Chocolate that marries hot chocolate to an old-fashioned. Or try the Bonfire, Rex’s take on hot buttered rum with winter spices, Cruzan Dark Rum, apple and pear brandy. Very Good Things is just as promised. It’s a hot drink that combines elements of Southeast Asian flavors loosely based on Chai tea. It has a silky, rich texture, thanks to the addition of coconut oil and the curry leaf garnish adds a complex aroma that compliments the coconut and mint.
University City: Walnut Street Cafe
The Moscow Hot Chocolate, is a boozy concoction with vanilla vodka, amaretto, cocoa, and marshmallow. Sip it on the restaurant's heated outdoor patio and tent areas or while shopping for locally made products at the Walnut Street Holiday Market.
Historic District: Scoop DeVille
This ice cream shop with locations throughout the city has been around for more than 30 years. And maybe its longevity is due, in part, to its creativity. Scoop DeVille has been serving gourmet Hot Chocolate with house-made hot chocolate mix, real melted chocolate and milk, for a few years. This year, Scoop DeVille started making chocolate bombs that melt as warm milk is poured over them. It's fun to watch the chocolate ooze out into your glass and even better to taste! The bombs come in three flavors -- salted caramel, candy cane and dark chocolate. Get the bombs made at Scoop Deville and take them “to go” or grab a couple to make at home or give as gifts. Scoop DeVille has two full locations with another in the works and two locations that are doing delivery only.
South Jersey: Visit South Jersey has created a Hot Chocolate Trail marking some of Jersey's places to indulge in hot chocolate. In the 60 miles between Hammonton's Casciano Coffee Bar and Sweetery and Evermore Coffee Roasters in Burlington, you'll find 12 stops including three in Haddonfield - a cute town with a abundance of bakeries, ice cream parlors and chocolate shops - making it all the more inviting.
Online: The Chai Bar
Pre-pandemic you could spot The Chai Bar at local farmer’s markets. For the time being its black, green and herbal tea blends and spices can only be found online. The Chai Bar is locally-owned by Madura Chudhari who procures single origin tea leaves directly from the tea estates and hand blends it in Philadelphia. The Chai Bar’s Malhar Hot Chocolate is made with a dash of Tumeric Tonic, which adds a blast of flavor and tumeric benefits. Order the Malhar Tumeric Tonic online at thechaibar.us and then make cocoa et curcumin at home.
One of the best things about the cold, is the wonderful, chocolaty ways to warm up!
by Irene Levy Baker, author, 100 Things To Do In Philadelphia and Unique Eats & Eateries of Philadelphia. Both books are full of tips. For even more tips, visit www.100ThingsToDoInPhiladelphia.com. Planning a staycation? Need gifts? Go to the website for signed copies of books. For free shipping, use promo code TheCityPulse. Click here for more blog postings by Irene Levy Baker including tips for helping restaurants survive, where to get Philly-centric masks and more.