15 Indulgent Hot Chocolates to Sip Around DC This Winter

Sweet or spiked, these indulgent cocoas are getting us through the cold.

Photograph by Hallie Sharpless.

This article was updated on January 29, 2024.

Sure, packaged cocoa is fine in a pinch. But when you’re out and about, there are few better ways to get cozy than a mug of real-deal hot chocolate. 


Dolcezza Gelato

Multiple DC-area locations

Photograph courtesy of Dolcezza Gelato.

When not cooling us off with dreamy gelato, Dolcezza keeps us warm with its house-made cocoa—a creamy blend of milk and Valrhona chocolate. There’s a subtle hint of cinnamon and clove in its seasonal version (the best version, if you ask us), or you can order it plain.  


L.A. Burdick Chocolates

1319 Wisconsin Ave., NW

Photograph by Katie Zizmor.

This fancy “drinking chocolate” (declared one of the best in the world by Travel + Leisure) is from artisanal chocolatier L.A. Burdick, whose patented (yes, patented) chocolate is melted straight into the milk for an indulgent treat. Guests can customize kinds of sipping chocolate, including milk, white, dark, or spicy dark. (For something different, we recommend the white, which comes with a light dusting of nutmeg on top.)


Pitango Gelato

Multiple locations in DC, MD, and VA

Photograph by Alisa Dan.

This gelato shop describes its Italian-style “sipping chocolate” as the “chocolate equivalent to espresso.” The drink—much thicker and stronger than your average cup of cocoa and not nearly as sweet—is a blend of single-origin Vidama chocolate from the Ivory Coast, milk, and cane sugar. Add more milk if you want to turn down the intensity (but who wants that?).


Colada Shop

Multiple locations in DC, MD, and VA

Photograph courtesy of Colada Shop.

Staying true to its roots, this local mini-chain pours a classic Cuban-style hot chocolate called Chocolate de Abuela. It’s a steamed mixture of dark chocolate syrup, whipped espresso sugar, and a Cuban spice mix with milk—the perfect vessel for churro-dipping. For an extra treat, opt to add a jumbo-sized chocolate marshmallow on top.


River-Sea Chocolates

4520 Daly Dr, Suite 100, Chantilly 

Photograph by East 27 Creative.

The craft hot cocoa menu at this “bean-to-bar” chocolate factory—which you can tour for a behind-the-scenes look at how its single-origin bars get made—has a flavor for just about every palette. Aside from a cup of classic cocoa or thick sipping chocolate, you’ll find eclectic flavors such as “adaptogenic” hot chocolate, made with mushroom, ashwagandha, and açaí berry; raspberry rose hot chocolate, topped with edible petals; and Old Town hot chocolate, made with a Colonial-era recipe that includes cardamom and orange peel.


Bread Furst

4434 Connecticut Ave., NW

Photograph by Keiona Davis.

The bustling Van Ness bakery Bread Furst steams up its family recipe for hot chocolate, which involves melting a rich ganache into steamed milk. For a citrus kick, try the bakery’s new special this winter: orange hot cocoa, infused with a swirl of house-made orange-anise syrup. Or, for something thicker, hit up the bakery’s outpost at the Phillips Collection (1600 21st St., NW), where you can order up thick, Parisian-style hot chocolate, served with fresh whipped cream.


Pretzel Bakery

257 15th St., SE

The Nutella craze is still going strong at this Capitol Hill pretzel shop, which prepares its hot chocolate—known as the “Hotella”—with the hazelnut spread.


Urban Roast

16 G St., NW, Suite C-2 

Photograph courtesy of Urban Roast.

Hot chocolate has its own section on this Penn Quarter cafe’s menu. There are five different flavors, including peppermint and coconut, which you can try dry or spike with various liqueurs. Also: boozy hot cocoa flights, all flavored with a different variety of Bailey’s.


Le Diplomate

1601 14th St., NW

Photograph by Hallie Sharpless.

For more boozy cocoa, head to this 14th street French brasserie, which pours Monnet VS Cognac into its Valrhona-based hot chocolate (or “chocolat chaud,” as the French would say). The liqueur adds an herbal note, and the mug comes topped with a strawberry-flavored marshmallow.


Le Pain Quotidien

Multiple locations in DC, MD, and VA

Naturally, this Brussels-born cafe chain uses Belgian chocolate, which has a higher cocoa content, in its mugs of hot cocoa. For a fun sipping experience, order in house: The melted chocolate comes separately in its own small carafe that you get to pour into your mug of steamed milk.


The Wydown Coffee & Bar

600-B H St., NE; 1924 14th St., NW

Vegans and those who avoid lactose will be happy to know that the Wydown’s housemade dark-chocolate syrup, crafted with the ethically-sourced tcho chocolate, is dairy-free. Enjoy it with oat, almond, or soy milk. (Cow’s milk works too, of course.)


Northside Social

3211 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 205 Park Ave., Falls Church City

Photograph courtesy of Northside Social.

No Hershey’s or Ghirardelli syrups here: this cozy community cafe, with locations in Arlington and Falls Church, whips up a house-made chocolate ganache, which it then melts into steamed milk, for a rich hot cocoa.


Levain Bakery

3131 M St., NW; 4844 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda

While the Manhattan-based bakery is best known for massive chocolate chip cookies, it doesn’t overlook the details when it comes to hot chocolate. The Bethesda and Georgetown cafes hand-shave Valrhona chocolate bars—renowned for high cocoa-butter content—before melting it into any milk you choose.


Bread and Water Company

1512 Belle View Blvd., Alexandria

Bread and pastries aren’t the only thing made in-house. The Alexandria cafe also crafts its own chocolate syrup, made with 60 percent dark chocolate.


The Conche

1605 Village Market Blvd. SE, Leesburg

Photograph courtesy of The Conche.

It’s probably no surprise that a restaurant devoted to cocoa-based dishes offers mugs of hot chocolate, too. The Leesburg restaurant stirs up four different flavors—milk, white, and dark chocolate as well as salted caramel—all of which can be boozed up with your favorite cordial spirits.

Jessica Ruf
Assistant Editor