Four spots for spiked hot chocolate
It’s dessert! It’s a drink! It’s basically the only way to get through a Chicago winter.
Drumbar Patience is a virtue we don’t have; give us a piping-hot drink (or pizza) and our tongue will be burned for days. At the Raffaello Hotel’s rooftop bar, Craig Schoettler makes that predicament nearly impossible with his alcoholic hot chocolate, which he heats in an immersion circulator to control the temperature to precisely the right degree for immediate slurping satisfaction. In a clear mug, rich Valrhona 66 percent dark chocolate with Murray River salt is balanced by a frothy vanilla foam and a shot of Weller Special Reserve. 201 E Delaware Pl (312-924-2531). $15.
Found As if the Manhattan with chocolate bitters at this Evanston gem weren’t enough to win our hearts, now beverage director Jan Henrichsen is going all out with her housemade cayenne-pepper hot chocolate spiked with Portuguese milk liqueur. The liqueur—equal parts grappa, sugar and milk—adds just the right hint of sweet to the spicy drink. For an extra dose of booze, she tops the mug with whipped cream made with RumChata, the college-kid-flavor-of-the-moment we’re embarrassed to admit we love. 1631 Chicago Ave (847-868-8945). $12.
Mercadito So rich you only need a shot glass’s worth, Mercadito’s chocomole hot chocolate is thickened with peanut butter and flavored with the same spices as the restaurant’s mole: ground cinnamon, cumin, oregano, black peppercorns and guajillo chiles. Bartenders then rim the glass with a mixture of salt and pico piquin, a seasoning made from peppers. Request the optional pour of Partida reposado tequila, and make sure to ask for the drink warm, not chilled (it comes both ways). 108 W Kinzie St (312-329-9555). $8.
Table, Donkey and Stick You either love Chartreuse—a secret-recipe herbal liqueur made by monks in the French Alps—or you think it tastes as if you’re drinking perfume out of a gym shoe. Either way, Chartreuse’s floral notes work beautifully as an accent to many desserts, including hot chocolate, a combination you’ll find at this Logan Square newcomer. Though the cocoa is billed as an after-dinner drink, the housemade marshmallow easily makes this a dessert in itself. 2728 W Armitage Ave (773-486-8525). $8.