Did you know that until the 19th century, hot chocolate was sometimes used as a medicine? Many French doctors even believed it fought against anger and bad moods. While most people will agree that chocolate probably doesn’t cure serious medical ailments, I do find that a great cup of hot chocolate always cheers me up. If you’re looking to get rid of your winter blues, try a dose of extraordinary hot cocoa from one of these Virginia establishments.
— ARLINGTON —
An Arlington delight is Bayou Bakery’s signature Bayou Hot Cocoa. Made with rich Valrhona chocolate, sea salt, and Madagascar vanilla, Bayou’s version of hot chocolate is rich yet easy to drink. Although there is plenty of chocolatey goodness to this cup of cocoa, you won’t leave feeling like you just ingested a pound of chocolate.
The specialty items of Blackbird Bakery are the homemade doughnuts, but a marshmallow-topped cup o’ cocoa goodness is the perfect sidekick. Oh, and Blackbird is a 24-hour establishment. Plus they offer a 10% discount to seniors, military, police, fire and rescue, and college students. #Winning
— CULPEPER —
Fresh, roasted cocoa is available from Cocoa Manna Hot Chocolate Factory in Culpeper. Ground fine in small batches and brewed with a French Press, there are no additives in this treat, making it a robust, antioxidant-laden treat. You can find Cocoa Manna at several Virginia retailers, including chocolatepaper in Roanoke, Coterie in Sperryville, The Frenchman’s Corner in Culpeper, Market Salamander in Middleburg, and The Market in Woodstock.
— CHARLOTTESVILLE —
When it comes to Virginia-made chocolate goodies, Gearharts in Charlottesville frequently tops the list. But with the relocation to a new shop, customers can now enjoy their cocoa in liquid form. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate with daily homemade baked offerings, or pick up a bag of the Maya Drinking Chocolate, made with cinnamon and orange, to treat yourself at home.
— LYNCHBURG —
Cao Artisan Chocolates is a cozy lounge where cacao beans are carefully stone-ground and crafted into bar chocolate. From there, the chocolate is spun into luscious chocolate delights, including fondue, gelato, truffles, European sipping chocolate, and of course, decadent hot chocolate topped with fresh whipped cream. Yum!
— RESTON —
What better way to warm up after a ring around the Reston Town Center ice skating rink than with a deliciously thick, Torino, Italy-inspired sipping hot chocolate from Pitango Gelato? Remaining true to the traditional hot chocolate it mimics, this drink is meant to be consumed in small quantities. Top it with fresh whipped cream, blend in some frothy steamed milk, or drink that baby straight up, the choice is yours.
— RICHMOND —
The River City has a few options for delicious hot chocolate, depending on what you’re in the mood for. At Can Can Brasserie, expect your hot chocolate to be more dessert than beverage. Made with real chocolate melted down into cream and milk, this delightful drink gives you an excuse to have chocolate at any time of day without feeling guilty.
Shyndigz is a popular Richmond spot for those with a sweet tooth. Their outstanding desserts are only made better when paired with a cup of their hot chocolate, such as the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, made with salted caramel and homemade whipped cream. Feeling a little more adult? Get the Grown-Up Hot Chocolate, served with your choice of Bailey’s or Godiva liqueur.
— ROANOKE —
In 1990, Mill Mountain Coffee and Tea launched from Roanoke and now boasts several other locations, including Daleville and Richmond (Shockoe Espresso, mentioned above). While the claim-to-fame is their fresh roasted Arabica coffee beans, the hot chocolate should not be overlooked. In fact, a Berkeley, California Yelp reviewer wrote, “They have a wide variety of drinks to choose from, and although I am not a coffee drinker, I can attest that their hot chocolate hits the spot.”
— WILLIAMSBURG —
Step into Colonial Williamsburg and you’re stepping into the 18th century political arena. Want a real feel for the times? Head to Richard Charlton’s Coffeehouse where 1765 comes to life, including the coffee, tea, and chocolate styles that were fashionable in Europe. Who may have tipped back a cup of chocolate goodness in the 1760s? George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, of course. Sip where they sipped, and take pride that you’re in the only reconstructed and interpreted 18th century coffeehouse in the nation.
For a more modern cup of cocoa, head to the Blue Talon Bistro in Williamsburg for their Parisian-style hot chocolate. With just a hint of spice, this homemade cocoa is topped with a giant homemade marshmallow. Reviewers rave about the richness of this winter beverage.
Find your escape from the chill of this winter at the bottom of a cup of hot cocoa. Got any more suggestions for the best hot chocolate around? Let us know where you go to warm up!