With festive lights and decorations adorning storefronts and downtown streets, snowflakes swirling against scarves and overcoats, and a feeling of goodwill in the air, there's no denying the magic of the holiday season. But this time of year also brings the gift giving season, and with it the stresses of holiday shopping. Take a break from the hustle and bustle to sit down with a cup of hot chocolate or tea. There's just something about wrapping your hands around a steaming mug of cocoa that helps you regain perspective, recharge your spirit, and reconnect with the people that matter to you.
Whether you're looking for a cozy spot for afternoon tea or a quick and creamy treat for your little one, our guide will point you in the right direction.
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If chocolate is your thing, check out Cocoa in Larchmont, which offers rich hot chocolate made with Belgian chocolate and milk ($1.85-$4.90). But if your sweet tooth craves more, try their famous chocolate bark and brownies, in dark, milk, and white chocolates. 2107A Boston Post Road, Larchmont. 914-834-6464. www.cocoachocolateshop.com.
Dragonfly Café, with its paper lantern adorned ceiling, offers an assortment of teas, coffees, and hot chocolate drinks, ranging in price from $2-$5. Hot and cold apple cider offered in season. Breakfast and lunch served daily; menu includes baked goods, wraps, salads, and soups. 7 Wheeler Avenue, Pleasantville. 914-747-7477.
Coffee Labs Roasters in Tarrytown, although known for its coffee, has a selection of hot chocolates made with Ghirardelli chocolate syrups as well as a "sipping" chocolate made with melted chocolate chips ($2.04-$2.64). They also serve a variety of teas ($1.70-$2.19). Open Monday-Tuesday 6:30am-6:30pm, Wednesday-Thursday 6:30am-8pm, Friday 6:30am-10:30pm, Saturday 8am-10:30pm, Sunday 8am-7pm. 7 Main Street, Tarrytown. 914-332-1479. www.coffeelabs.com.
Lola's Tea House offers a wide variety of teas in two-cup pot ($4.50) and four-cup pot ($6) servings (add $1 for premium teas). Their English Afternoon Tea ($25; $40 for two) features your choice of tea, plus a scone with preserves and clotted cream, your choice of tea sandwich, and two bite-sized desserts. Their Children's Tea ($15) offers a choice of beverage - tea, hot chocolate, lemonade, milk, or juice - plus a mini scone with preserves, choice of tea sandwich, and two bite-sized desserts. 130 5th Avenue, Pelham. 914-738-2100. www.lolasteahouse.com.
Tazza Café offers rich, decadent Belgian Sipping Chocolate in addition to hot chocolate, Harney and Sons teas, chai teas, and apple cider ($2-$4). They have a full lunch menu and baked goods all made on the premises. 230 Saw Mill River Road, Millwood; 382 Main Street, Armonk; 6 Heritage 202 Center, Somers. 914-488-5227. www.tazzacafeny.com.
The Kneaded Bread makes their hot chocolate from scratch by melting down a bar of semisweet chocolate and frothing it to order. The result is a thick and delicious brew with a hint of cinnamon and cream ($2.75-$3.75). They also offer an array of teas, from Earl Grey to chamomile ($1.50), as well as freshly brewed iced tea with mint ($2.25-$2.75). 181 North Main Street, Port Chester. 914-937-9489. www.kneadedbread.com.
The Peekskill Coffee House's specialty is Peppermint Hot Chocolate, which tastes like a Peppermint Patty; there are also a variety of syrups that can be added to their basic hot chocolate ($2-$4, syrups are an additional $.75). Their most popular tea is chai, which is both fair trade and organic, and comes in regular, honey vanilla, and decaf (hot $4-$5; iced $4.50-$5.50). They also carry Numi Organic teas in 13 flavors ($1.75). Open Monday-Thursday 6am-9pm, Friday-Saturday 6am-11pm, Sunday 8am-6pm. 101 South Division Street, Peekskill. 914-739-1287. www.peekskillcoffee.com.