Cold weather calls for hot drinks and each winter seems to inspire a fresh fascination with hot chocolate. This year is no different and I’m excited to see OTT, overly sweet concoctions fade out to make way for a new wave of speciality hot chocolates to sip on. Thoughtful chocolate sourcing and top-notch milk are key ingredients for this list of smooth operators, who are doing their hot chocolate a little bit differently.
L’Art du Chocolat, Chocolate Bar, Main Street, Maynooth, County Kildare
A little further out of town than my usual recommendations, L’Art du Chocolat is a new-wave chocolate bar run by two talented French chocolatiers in Maynooth. Their elevated hot chocolate menu is the best I’ve seen. The Classic is a perfect balance of molten dark and milk chocolate, then there’s The Dark — with 85% chocolate, it’s full of powerful and earthy cacao tones. The Blond Dulcey is creamy and toasty and disappears in a matter of minutes but the taste lingers on much longer — a sure sign of great quality.
The Bakery by The Cupcake Bloke, 461 South Circular Rd, Dublin 8
One of Dublin’s favourite market stalls The Cupcake Bloke have set up shop in Rialto, where they have expanded their perfectly iced cupcakes selection to include nostalgic treats like homemade Mikados and delightful cakes. Their hot chocolate ticks the nostalgiac box too, using the amazing, old-school tasting, full-fat milk from Arthur Craigie in Dunlavin Dairy and Áine handmade chocolate from Stradone, Co. Cavan. A hug in a mug.
Two Boys Brew, 375 North Circular Road, Dublin 7
This uber-stylish neighbourhood café is well-known for coffee, brunch and ‘The Counter’, awash with homemade baked temptations — the peanut butter cookie sandwich gets me every time. But for winter, I’ll be seeking out their hot chocolate, made with dark and milk Cocoa Atelier chocolate drops, steamed milk and chocolate shavings on top. The mocha is exactly the same, just with two shots of coffee. Divine.
Bread 41, 41 Pearse Street, Dublin 2
This new bakery hotspot is garnering a great reputation for its sourdough bread and perfectly flaky pastries, but don’t overlook the drinks selection, which includes a hot chocolate using Edward & Irwyn artisan chocolate from Scotland. Using this base chocolate couverture makes for a dark, strong drink, perfect for dipping croissants in — that is, after you’ve polished off the homemade marshmallows that go on top.
Camerino Bakery, 158 Capel Street, Dublin 1 & Goethe-Institut, Merrion Square, Dublin 2
Camerino Bakery, well-known for their decadent brownie selection, are bound to put a bit of effort into their hot chocolate. They make their own ganache from 55% Belgian chocolate for the baristas to steam with organic milk. Bonus points for the fact that you will have the option of tucking into it with something from their enchanting display of bakes that all taste as good as they look.
Vice Coffee, 54 Middle Abbey St, Dublin 1
Tucked away on Middle Abbey Street, coffee haven Vice are well known for their creative hot drinks selection that stretches well beyond coffee. They do an award-winning Irish Coffee that’s become a bit of a tourist attraction, but we are here for the hot chocolate. The malted hot chocolate is made with crushed Maltesers and steamed milk with organic full fat or oat milk. Spike it with a shot of Baileys or Tia Maria for the ultimate indulgence.
3FE, Daniel and Five Points
All outposts of the 3FE coffee (Grand Canal, Sussex Terrace, Daniel and Five Points) are worth seeking out for the superb Hazel Mountain Chocolate they are using. Stone-ground in the Burren, Hazel Mountain source single estate chocolate to use in their decadent hot chocolate mix. I tried their Ecuador chocolate and it was alive with soft honey flavours. Choose from organic full-fat milk or oat and Five Points even add a delightful brownie crumble.
Industry Cafe, 41 Drury St, Dublin 2
A dapper design-lover’s dream, Industry’s café is a well-known go-to for food as creative as its surrounds, and the hot chocolate is no different. No powdery mixes here, they use chef favourite Callebaut Belgian chocolate in a combination of milk and dark single origin. Combined with perfect temperature steamed milk or oat milk, I defy you not to slurp it down in one.
Proper Order, 7 Haymarket, Smithfield, Dublin 7
Since this charming café opened its doors off Smithfield Square a couple of years ago, they have been serving up excellent coffees and are genuinely excited about what they offer. It’s no different for their latest hot chocolate offering, made with Blendsmiths Hot Chocolate premium cacao (51%), organic coconut sugar and sea salt. Enjoy with full fat steamed organic milk or choose oat for a decadent vegan version. As with all their drinks, they do optional chocolate sprinkles.
Reference Coffee, 49 Pleasants St, Dublin 8
Next to the wonderful Meet Me In The Morning, you’ll find Reference Coffee — a charmingly small takeaway spot (but you can also sit in next door). They serve exactingly brewed cups of coffee and the hot chocolate is no different, made with 77% cacao and splendid steamed milk. Winter-proof your life by adding a freshly baked doughnut to your order — much needed in cold times!