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Hot Chocolates

Hot-chocolate season has arrived, even if it's 60 degrees out. And out of the city's intensely rich and deliciously complex versions of the traditional winter treat, not one is Swiss and not one is a miss.

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1. @SQC
Thicker than Mrs. Gloop's accent and richer than Veruca Salt's dad, Scott Campbell's signature drink beautifully balances bitter and sweet. Served in a bathtub-size cup, with fresh whipped cream and a ribbon of dark chocolate. (270 Columbus Avenue, near 72nd Street; 212-579-0100.)

2. City Bakery
Every February, Maury "Cookie Dough" Rubin puts on his mad-scientist coat to concoct flavors like ginger, vanilla-bean, and banana-peel for his hot-chocolate festival. Until then, we'll take his creamy Valrhona version, complete with homemade marshmallow. (3 West 18th Street; 212-366-1414.)

3. Kitchen/Market
Challenging the vogue for thick-and-rich, Kitchen's frothy cocktail of Mexican Ibarra chocolate has a lingering cinnamon flavor. (218 Eighth Avenue, at 21st Street; 212-243-4433.)

4. Jacques Torres
Brand-new ancho-chili-and-chipotle-spiced Wicked Hot Chocolate from the former Le Cirque pastry chef will change anyone's perceptions that this is a drink for the Serendipity 3 set. (66 Water Street, Brooklyn; 718-875-9772.)

5. Payard Pâtisserie
That clever Frenchman François Payard has covered all the hot-chocoholic bases: His American-style is made with skim milk (we're reserving judgment); à la Française is smooth and creamy; and Brésilian is the French plus a shot of espresso. (1032 Lexington Avenue, near 73rd Street; 212-717-5252.)


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