Coffee, tea, mulled wine, hot toddies, warm apple cider, hot buttered rum — who doesn't long for warm drinks on crisp mornings and chilly evenings? But nothing takes you back to childhood quite like a mug of hot chocolate. And The Mile High City has the hottest hot chocolate lineup around, from classic to creative to boozy. Here are some favorite hot cocoas in Denver by neighborhood, so you can grab a cup wherever you roam.
Snooze, an A.M. Eatery in Downtown Denver
Next time you’re at brunch, skip the black coffee and go straight for Snooze’s signature hot chocolate, made with milk from a local dairy and finished with cinnamon, homemade whipped cream and chocolate sauce. And keep an eye out for seasonal creations like the Spiked Candy Cane Cocoa made with tequila, coffee liqueur, peppermint schnapps, mocha crumble and crushed candy cane. Snooze has multiple locations across the metro area, including two in Downtown Denver: one near Coors Field in the Ballpark neighborhood and one in Denver Union Station.
This one’s for grownups only! Avanti’s Finnish Hot Cocoa is made with Finlandia Vodka (hence the name), milk chocolate, mint and whipped cream. It’s the perfect drink to sip while you decide which of the LoHi food hall’s six restaurants to try.
With a name like Chocolate Lab, it’s no surprise that this chocolate-centric restaurant, craft cocktail bar and chocolate shop serves up some of the best hot chocolate in town. Their Chocolate Elixir comes with a plethora of options. First, choose from dark, milk or white chocolate. Then, take your pick of regular milk, coconut cream or almond milk. Finally, order an extra burst of flavor with a variety of syrups and toppings, including marshmallows, whipped cream, caramel, sea salt, butterscotch, peppermint, rose, pistachio, vanilla, Mayan spice, honey, orange or — most unique of all — beet! Adults can add a pour of their favorite spirit for a boozy boost or a shot of espresso for an extra jolt of caffeine.
D Bar is chock full of sweet treats, but we promise you won’t be sorry if you save room for the hot chocolate. The decadent beverage is made with gourmet cocoa and served with whipped cream, chocolate nibs and a toasted marshmallow on a stick. It’s like a glam campfire treat! Adults can add a shot of Baileys Irish Cream, Kahlúa, whiskey or other spirits.
If you’re looking for a truly unique twist on the traditional hot chocolate, look no further. Inspired by the movie "Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory," The Inventing Room is home to some of the most creative desserts in Denver, including the Frozen Hot Chocolate (chilled in liquid nitrogen) and the Mexican Hot Chocolate, both topped with Exploding Whipped Cream. Let us say that again: Exploding. Whipped. Cream.
The Enstrom family has been making its mouth-watering almond toffee for more than 60 years, and it’s been a local favorite for nearly as long! The next time you pop in for a box (which should be soon), warm up with a cup of their piping hot chocolate, available in classic chocolate or rich white chocolate. There’s also an outpost in nearby Arvada.
Whoever said laughter is the best medicine hasn’t tried the hot chocolate at The Chocolate Therapist. In fact, owner Julie Nygard literally wrote the book on the subject: "The Chocolate Therapist, A User’s Guide to the Extraordinary Health Benefits of Chocolate." Nygard and her staff make their own all-natural chocolate on-site without any dyes or preservatives, including three varieties of hot chocolate. The Black Magic is made with ground dark chocolate, cocoa powder and vanilla sugar; the Colorado is made with milk chocolate, cocoa powder and vanilla sugar; and the Cocoa en Fuego is made with ground dark chocolate, Adobo chiles and Urfa chiles for a spicy kick. Order a cup topped with fresh, house-made vanilla whipped cream. Grab a bag before you leave to recreate the experience at home.
Platt Park Brewing Company on South Pearl Street
Beer might be the main event at this craft brewery, but Platt Park also has an innovative cocktail list, including a mini menu of spiked hot cocoas. Try the Candy Cane (peppermint schnapps, marshmallows and crushed candy canes), the Hot Hawaiian (Malibu Rum, marshmallows and shredded toasted coconut), the Cinnamon Toast Cocoa (RumChata, marshmallows and crushed Cinnamon Toast Crunch) and the Luck of the Irish (Baileys Irish Cream, marshmallows and shaved Dieter’s chocolate).
The Chocolate Lab pictured above.