Creamy, sweet, savory and sometimes spicy, hot chocolate is an indulgent staple of the winter holiday season. We rounded up the most memorable hot chocolate experiences and most photo-worthy displays, because in the era of Instagram, you enjoy first with the eyes, and then with the other senses.
|Pop It Like It's Hot | Boston|
A pop-up hot chocolate bar for charity with a clever name that brings back childhood memories -- well-played, Revere Hotel. Older children might get a bit weirded out by their parents humming Snoop Dogg while they wait in line, but they'll overlook it for the hot chocolate's sake. Revere chef Bader Ali has created gourmet Taza cocoa concoctions, such as Nutella with Homemade Banana Whipped Cream. In the holiday spirit, all drinks are priced at what you want to pay, with "donations encouraged." Proceeds go to a local children's charity. Visit this pop-up every Friday from 3-6 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 27.
|Rittenhouse | Philadelphia|
Step right up and get your hot chocolate with all the fixins and your roasted chestnuts too. Starting Nov. 29, the Rittenhouse will have a hot chocolate station set up in the lobby, and everyone's welcome -- not just hotel guests -- to come in for cocoa. The doormen will be handing out roasted chestnuts. Apple cider is on offer too. Sorry, a teddy bear is not included, but if you want one, inquire at Teddy Bear Tea.
|Bourbon Hot Chocolate | New York's Lower East Side|
Hot chocolate, a dash of Maker's Mark, and a chocolate-chip cookie, fresh-baked in-house and still warm from the oven -- it's the grown-up holiday version of afternoon milk and cookies, and a fall menu addition at the Blue Ribbon Beer Garden. If you're up for it, you can sit on the heated patio and watch the Lower East Side holiday crowds.
|Hot Choc Doc | Chicago|
To combat Chicago's infamous winter weather, the Four Seasons has installed a roving "Hot Choc Doc" who is on call to bring hot chocolate and every conceivable topping right to guests' rooms. And for the adults who might say, "Oh, that's cute, but none for me," think twice: There's an adults-only section of that cart stocked with butternut rum and schnapps.
|Green Chile Hot Chocolate | Santa Fe. N.M.|
Yes, New Mexicans put green chile in absolutely everything, including the hot chocolate, and why not? If the point of the beverage is to warm you up, a subtle dash of chile ups the heat and balances the chocolate's sweetness. This is actually New Mexico's version of the traditional Mexican hot chocolate recipe that uses chipotle. Roast ground green chile imparts a toasty, spicy flavor. If you want the most elegant presentation in town, look to Terra restaurant at the Four Seasons Rancho Encantado.
|Xocolatl | Punta Mita, Mexico|
Speaking of traditional Mexican hot chocolate, the Four Seasons property in Punta Mita, Riviera Nayarit, has one of the most elaborate and artistic presentations. Drinkable chocolate has historic and cultural implications for the region, which was the first to cultivate cacao. Guests learn a little bit about that and taste multiple kinds of chocolate, including Azteca and Champurrado Mexican.
|Hot Chocolate Buffet-Style | St. Regis Deer Valley, Utah|
The DIY hot chocolate bar at the St. Regis Deer Valley is the delight of all who encounter it, whether they find the main bar that the resort sets up in a public area for the holidays, or a personal-size bar (pictured) exclusively for the resort's guests. Delivered by the "hot chocolate butler," the bar includes steamed milk, pastilles of dark, milk and white chocolate, syrups, various garnishes ... oh, and maybe Bailey's.
|Peanut Butter Frrrozen Hot Chocolate | Boca Raton, Fla.|
For all those who have had Frrrozen Hot Chocolate at the flagship Serendipity 3 location in New York, here's great news: There's an outpost of the famous dining spot at Boca Raton Resort and Club. It serves all the awesome flavors that the New York branch does, and you pretty much never have to wait for a table. You can even get yours to go, and enjoy the surreal experience of watching people ice skate (at the Pink Rink) and eat holiday treats while it's 75 degrees outside.
|At Astor Holiday Ice Rink, or With Santa | Atlanta|
Take your pick of traditions at the St. Regis Atlanta, where hot chocolate is available at Astor Holiday Ice Rink or as part of the afternoon Children's Tea With Santa. Whether your kids like to zoom around on the ice or get dressed up and show off their table manners, the beverage choice will be the same. And it will no doubt involve whipped cream and sprinkles.
|Rhumbar Naughty Girl Scout | Las Vegas|
In Las Vegas, good luck finding something as wholesome as hot cocoa. The holidays bring booze-infused sippers named after risque Halloween costumes. Available inside the Mirage Hotel and Casino from Dec. 1 onward, this is a pretty classic holiday concoction, once you get past the provocative mix: Bailey's mint chocolate, peppermint schnapps, coffee, chocolate syrup and an Andes mint garnish.
|Drinkable Chocolate Truffles | Your Home|
For all of you wondering what's the easiest way to get this at home, well, there are a ton of gourmet cocoa mixes on the market today, from Norman Love to Taza to Christopher Elbow. For an easy-to-prepare "grownup" recipe, double down on the good stuff with Crave liqueur (available in Chocolate Truffle, Chocolate Cherry, Chocolate Mint or Chocolate Chili) mixed with your favorite drinking chocolate.