Bittersweet hot chocolate from Katherine Anne Confections
Bittersweet hot chocolate from Katherine Anne Confections

When it really comes down to it, the only thing worth drinking in winter (other than Scotch) is hot chocolate. Here are four fabulous versions to seek out with your kids—and one just for grownups.

Katherine Anne Confections
2745 W. Armitage Ave., 773-245-1630
This chocolat chaud, a liquid ganache of Kilgus milk and cream and 72 percent bittersweet E. Guittard chocolate topped with homemade marshmallows, is a gooey, ginormous mess. But the best part? Melting in a passion fruit citrus truffle. Get a Beurrage croissant for dunking and share a mug with your sweetie—and be prepared to fight over it. (Add $2 for a truffle.)


Cathy's Regimen hot chocolate from Le Chocolat du Bouchard
Le Chocolat du Bouchard

129 S. Washington St., Naperville, 630-355-5720

Owner Cathy Bouchard found an authentic conquistador recipe for Spanish chocolate, melting the store’s signature 70 percent cacao in water and whipping in a whole egg for a frothy, satisfying concoction that’s not too sweet—and only 215 calories. It would take the entire winter to try all 30 hot chocolates on the menu here, but this one is the most satisfying.


Ginger hot chocolate from Gingersnap Sweets & Such
Gingersnap Sweets & Such

1416 W. Irving Park Rd., 773-697-8529

Diced bits of fresh ginger are a chewy surprise in this otherwise smooth drink made with 64 percent couverture (chocolate enriched with extra cocoa butter) from Cacao Barry Guayaquil. Owner Jen Templeton starts with a homemade chocolate ganache for each of her six intriguing flavors, including pistachio and caramel walnut, and stirs in whole or soy milk. Or you can buy a jar of ganache ($7 to $8.75) and try it at home.

Mole hot chocolate from Mercadito
MOLE ($6)

108 W. Kinzie St., 312-329-9555

Leave it to Tad Carducci and Paul Tanguay, a.k.a. Tippling Bros., to bring a little nuance to Mexican hot chocolate. They intensify Abuelita chocolate with cumin, oregano, black peppercorns, dried guajillo chilies, and peanut butter. The glass gets rimmed with Pico Piquin seasoning, topped with a corn chip, and spiked with tequila if you want. But it’s plenty invigorating without alcoholic aid.


Ian's Demise hot chocolate from Benny's Chop House
Benny’s Chop House

444 N. Wabash Ave., 312-626-2444

Natalie Converse, Benny’s bar manager, brews her own brose (Scotch infused with oatmeal and maple syrup) for this hot chocolate cocktail, named for a Scottish bandit who was caught after he passed out drinking brose from a well. The brew also includes housemade birch-bark bitters and maple-oat whipped cream, so what starts out sweet packs heat at the back of your palate. “It’s all about the booze,” Converse says. “Hot chocolate is the accent.”


Photography: Anna Knott