The Washington Post
Best hot cocoa photo

Best hot cocoa

Lavanya Ramanathan  |  Updated 01/15/2014

When the temperatures drop, nothing can warm you up again like a sip of creamy hot cocoa. But you can forget about the Swiss Miss-and-marshmallow-filled mug of your youth. In the Washington area, cocoa comes spiked with cinnamon or sprinkled with sea salt, stirred up with creamy peanut butter or poured so thick and dark, it's best sipped slowly from a demitasse. Go on, indulge.


Co Co. Sala

Washington, DC

Forget cocktails. The creamy hot cocoas at Co Co. Sala, which come with an artfully placed marshmallow, are the stars come winter. There are a half-dozen in all, including salted caramel, chipotle and the heavenly standout, peanut butter. If you can't decide, you can always spring for an $8 cocoa flight and choose three.



Bethesda, MD

This sweet gelato chainlet has a secret: In addition to frozen delights, it serves up a thick, European-style cocoa made with the same dark Valrhona chocolate that flavors Dolcezza's Valrhona Chocolate Amargo gelato. It's amped up with both milk and cream and sprinkled with freshly ground cinnamon -- heavenly stuff for dunking a churro.



Washington, DC

This Belgian cafe is an oasis of sugar in Adams Morgan. Order a macaron to pair with a hot cocoa that comes in five deliciously simple varieties. For something truly special, be sure to spike yours with a shot of Belgian espresso.



Washington, DC

At Oyamel, pots of Mexican chocolate -- ubiquitous at brunch -- come spiced with vanilla, cloves and cinnamon. But don't let the ingredients fool you: This is a drink that's more kicky than sweet. For even more heat, turn it into a pinch by pouring in a side order of trendy, smoky mescal.



Gaithersburg, MD

This MoCo chocolatier is creating a buzz with its delicious artisanal bonbons and truffles, crafted from cacao beans processed in-house, right in the Kentlands. But Spagnvola brings the same devotion to quality and flavor to what it serves by the cup: hot cocoas that feature the same 70 percent dark chocolate used in its confections, and a stick of cinnamon for good measure.


Pitango Gelato

Washington, DC

The bitter-sweet, Italian-style sipping chocolate at Pitango is more like the sugar rush that comes oozing out of a lava cake than it is a traditional hot cocoa. So it's best to cut it with something. May we suggest having your barista pour it over gelato for a twist on an affogato?


Artfully Chocolate

+ Multiple Locations

The 14th Street cafe ACKC closed in early 2012, but you can still find the popular "Divas" hot cocoas at the Artfully Chocolate and Artfully Gifts & Chocolate shops. Each named after a curvy siren of the silver screen, the Divas are heavenly cocoas made for all sorts of tastes, whether you like your hot chocolate thick and dark (go for the Audrey) or sprinkled with wasabi (as in the Ginger Rogers). As a bonus, each day from 5 p.m.-6:30 the diva happy hour slashes the price in half.


The Sweet Lobby

Washington, DC

This nook of a Barracks Row bakery offers just one unbelievably thick and rich cocoa, served in the European style. All the better to show off the topping -- a housemade marshmallow that may come in flavors such as maple bourbon or cardamom -- that's the highlight. For a real indulgence, grab a quirky macaron or cupcake to pair with your drink.


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Editors' Picks: Best hot cocoa
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