Hot Chocolate: a Hudson Valley Winter Staple

By Katie Maus

Katie Maus.jpg
Cafe Le Perche

Cafe Le Perche

Patisserie Lenox

Patisserie Lenox

Verdigris Tea and Chocolate Bar

Verdigris Tea and Chocolate Bar


Lots of people drink coffee or tea on a daily basis. It wakes them up, relaxes them, or they simply like the taste of it. Tea and coffee, to me, are regular drinks, while hot chocolate has always been a special occasion drink. Hot cocoa is reserved for the winter months something to drink on Christmas Eve, or after sledding at Tymor Park. It’s a dessert and a way to warm up all in one. There is no better aesthetic than a comfy chair with a fluffy blanket and a good book by a snowy window and a steaming hot cup of cocoa. It’s the perfect time for some hot chocolate, and the wintery Hudson Valley is the perfect place for it. Here are some ideas for where to drink, where to buy, and how to make, some good hot chocolate. 

Local Cafes:
Cafe Le Perche in Hudson has a great cinnamony flavored drink; perfect for a cold day checking out the cute shops on Hudson’s Warren Street.

Patisserie Lenox is also located in Hudson and offers a more bitter, dark cocoa along with some delicious pastries and a relaxing atmosphere.

Samuel’s in Rhinebeck is a sweet shop I’m sure we’ve all heard of; it’s the one owned by Paul Rudd and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Much smaller than I expected, the walls were packed with a variety of sweets and I grabbed a cup of cocoa, just because I was chilly. It was a tasty cup of milk chocolate and a fun atmosphere definitely worth a visit.

Babbette’s in Millbrook is an adorable little cafe in an adorable little town--a great place worth a visit and perfect for a warm drink while antiquing in town. 

Twisted Soul by Vassar College is another place to try the hot cocoa. I’ve never been myself, but I’ve heard great things about their Mexican hot chocolate. According to an article in Hudson Valley Magazine (8 Spots for Hot Cocoa, by Barbara Ballinger), the drink is “made with La Abuelita Mexican chocolate (which is often used in Hispanic mole sauces) and steamed milk, and has a hot-cinnamon kick. Some say it’s like eating Red Hots candies.” It’s definitely on my list to visit this winter. 

Hot cocoa is also great to make when you have company over for the holidays or after the kids come in from playing in the snow. You can also make hot chocolate gift baskets to give as secret santa gifts or for your children’s teachers.

Places to buy mix:
Fruition in Shokan makes some of the best chocolate in the world (they won at the International Chocolate Awards again this year). They have cans of “sipping chocolate” for sale at their stores in Shokan and Woodstock. I first tried it at their open house last year and it was hands down the best hot chocolate I’d ever tasted. 

Verdigris Tea and Chocolate Bar in Hudson is the cutest shop with the greatest variety in teas and chocolates. From gummy candies to locally made chocolate bars (noted some Fruition chocolate and Oliver Kita bars for sale!), they’ve got it all. There’s a whole wall of teas! You can get a cup of cocoa or tea while you’re there or you can get a tin to take home. I took a tin home and it was not only adorable but delicious! Definitely worth a visit!

Supermarkets. What!? I thought this was about fancy places to go get some hot chocolate?! Sometimes, as I was reminded by a friend when asking for recommendations, “isn’t the best cup of hot chocolate the one you make yourself?” He wasn’t wrong. Countless people I spoke to said they swore by a good old cup of Swiss Miss. I’ve personally had good hot chocolate from heating up some milk and adding Hershey Syrup to it. A favorite of mine is also Land O’ Lakes flavored hot chocolate. The cocoa on its own is great flavor, but sometimes adding to it is even better! They make a hazelnut flavor that is to die for! There’s also raspberry and mint, which I’ve never tried. A friend of mine loves the mint mixed with some vodka. Not so great for the kids, but adults love a good cup of cocoa too! What else can you add to your cup of Swiss Miss or your chocolate melted into warm milk?

Cinnamon: I didn’t think I’d like this at first, but it’s so warm and comforting!
                    Emma Swan was onto something with this one! 

Candy Canes: Mom always told us to stir our cocoa with them and it always made
                         it taste better!

Marshmallows: I like the mini ones personally, but throw some regular sized ones or even the jumbo ones
                           in there!

For the grown-ups: vodka or some Bailey’s will make sure your cocoa warms you all the way up.

Caramel: throw some salt in there too to make it a salted-caramel cocoa!

Whether you make it yourself or go out and buy it, hot chocolate keeps you warm and smiling in the winter in the Hudson Valley. Cheers!