Sweet sips to enjoy at the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival

Vancouver's annual Hot Chocolate Festival returns for a seventh season from January 19 to February 14, when almost 30 cafés will be putting their unique twist on the classic hot cocoa recipe. From boozy blends to far-out flavours, read on to learn about the 61 drinks on offer. The delicious festival is also fundraiser for the Downtown Eastside Women’s Job Training Program. [Image courtesy of Thomas Haas; Photo credit: Amy Ho]

Bel Café

801 Georgia St W, Vancouver, BC V6C 1P7

Tucked inside the Rosewood Georgia Hotel, the stylish daytime café will be slinging two delectable specialty drinks during this year’s Hot Chocolate Festival, both made with premium ingredients from French chocolatier Valrhona. Stop in January 19 to 31 to try Chupacabra, a dramatic mix of dark chocolate, cane sugar, cinnamon, chili and cardamom. Bel Café’s second hot chocolate special (February 1 to 14) is made with white chocolate, rose oil, vanilla and freeze-dried raspberry. Aptly named Pretty in Pink, this sweet sipper is a delightful blush-hued drink for those who are feeling romantic.

Bella Gelateria

1001 Cordova St W, Vancouver, BC V6C 0B7

These gelato maestros have outdone themselves with their Hot Chocolate Festival lineup this year with no fewer than seven specialty drinks on the menu at both locations. Options include a classic Hot Chocolato with dark and milk cocoa; a smoky and spicy Blanco de Criollo made with Peruvian cocoa and dried wood; and the C3, featuring Milano coffee and salted burnt caramel gelato. Beer fans should try The Red Truck dark hot chocolate spiked with stout beer. Bella has even partnered with Vancouver food blogger Erin Ireland to offer a dairy-free almond milk hot chocolate infused with vegan pumpkin bread.

Butter Baked Goods Ltd

4907 MacKenzie St, Vancouver, BC V6N 1G8

Vancouverites with a serious sweet tooth will need no introduction to this nostalgic neighbourhood bakeshop in Kerrisdale. Interior designer turned baker extraordinaire Rosie Daykin wows visitors with her impossibly pretty café (we love the floral wallpaper) and scratch-made treats. Stop by during the Hot Chocolate Festival to sample two very different but equally delicious signature drinks: The Nutella Wagon Wheel, a hazelnut dark hot chocolate topped with a graham cracker and boiled meringue icing; and The Bee’s Knees, a floral white hot chocolate with lavender and honey, finished off with honey-flavoured whipped cream. Swoon!

Chez Christophe Chocolaterie Patisserie

4717 Hastings St, Burnaby, BC V5C 2K8

Christophe Bonzon has an impressive pedigree when it comes to confectionery; the Swiss-born chocolatier trained under some of the finest European masters and has earned numerous industry awards for his skillful approach to sweets. A visit to his eponymous patisserie is worth the trek to Burnaby, especially during the Hot Chocolate Festival when two limited-edition sipping chocolates will be on deck. Tropical Storm is made with Haiti single origin dark chocolate and spiced pineapple gel, while Breakfast in Burnaby is a mix of white chocolate, maple drizzle and pecan crunch – it’s like French toast in a mug!

Chocolate Arts

1620 3rd Avenue W, Vancouver, BC V6J 1K2

Tucked away on West 3rd, this small-batch chocolatier attracts cocoa connoisseurs from across the city with its artisanal confections. From January 19 to February 14, visitors can sample three tantalizing hot chocolate flavours. Try Drunken Love to enjoy a rich hot chocolate paired with a bowl of red wine ice cream drizzled with red wine reduction. The Rocky Road to Love is topped with marshmallow and caramel, all accompanied by a handful of chocolate-covered candied almonds. Finally, Cherry O, Cherry O Baby is more of a deconstructed drink: imagine cherry panna cotta drenched with Chocolate Arts’ signature Allure hot chocolate.

Doughgirls Comfort Kitchen & Bakeshop

3322 Shrum Lane, Vancouver, BC V6S 0B9

A retro bakeshop in Westbrook Village, Dough Girls specializes in buttery pastries, scratch-made pies, nostalgic desserts and hearty soul food. It’s easy to see why this cozy spot is a go-to for UBC students in need of a comforting home-cooked meal or a sugar rush. Owners Thuy Kelp and Rose Concepción have dreamt up two novel drinks for this year’s Hot Chocolate Festival: a slow-warming Mayan Fire dark hot chocolate made with a peppery blend of chilies and spices; and Artic Ice, a minty white chocolate drink infused with fresh mint, peppermint oil and frozen mint truffle.


645 Howe Street, Vancouver, BC V6C 2Y9

If you find yourself downtown and in need of a mid-day pick-me-up, duck inside the Metropolitan Hotel and grab a table at this elegant dining room. With two sensational hot chocolate flavours to choose from, adventurous sippers won’t be disappointed. The adults-only Peppermint Pole Dance is made with 64 percent Valrhona Manjari Madagascar chocolate, peppermint schnapps and a hint of pineapple. The seductive and spicy Bengal Bliss features semi-sweet cocoa, cinnamon, cloves, pink peppercorn, chili and black pepper and is finished off with a dollop of Chantilly cream.

Earnest Ice Cream

1829 Quebec St, Vancouver, BC V5T 2Z3

Both the Olympic Village location and the Fraser Street location of this beloved small-batch ice cream shop are participating in the Hot Chocolate Festival this year, and guests can choose whether they want to be naughty or nice. Virtuous sippers can try the vegan Spiced Hot Chocolate – an affogato-style dark hot chocolate topped with Earnest’s chai tea ice cream. For a boozy indulgence, order the Spiked Hot Chocolate, which was created in partnership with Sons of Vancouver Distillery. The smooth drinking chocolate is topped with Amaretto-flavoured whipped cream and is served with a scoop of Amaretto ice cream and almond brittle.

Eternal Abundance

1025 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5L 3X1

Looking for a guilt-free way to indulge during the Hot Chocolate Festival? Those with dietary restrictions and allergies can sip without stressing at this neighbourhood haunt on The Drive. The healthful grocer and café will be serving two wholesome hot cocoa drinks from January 19 to February 14, and both are entirely organic, vegan, gluten-free and nut-free. The earthy Chaga Mushroom Hot Chocolate is laced with immunity-boosting chaga mushrooms, coconut butter and cacao paste, and is naturally sweetened with maple syrup and dates. Or go green and try the Green Silk Kimono, made with white chocolate, matcha tea and coconut.

East Van Roasters

319 Carrall St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2J4

Part café, part artisanal roaster, part social enterprise, East Van Roasters offers plenty of reasons to visit during the Hot Chocolate Festival. The Gastown café will be serving two unique drinks over the duration of the festival. From January 19 to 31, test your taste buds with The Sour vs. Sour Experience, a sour cherry Madagascar drinking chocolate paired with a piece of chocolate designed by students from Queen Alexandra Elementary. And from February 1 to 14, try the cardamom-infused Trip to Lachua, Guatemala – this drinking chocolate was inspired by the owners’ recent trip to a Mayan family-owned plantation.

French Made Baking

81 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5T 3J1

This charming European patisserie in Mount Pleasant is always a popular spot for Hot Chocolate Festival fans. Owners David and Catherine Introigator, both French natives, will be preparing four imaginative fairytale-inspired drinks throughout the 27-day event: The Nutcracker’s Nectar (roasted hazelnut milk chocolate), Hansel & Gretel’s Temptation (gingerbread orange blonde hot chocolate), Beyond the Milky Way (a vegan-friendly dark hot chocolate with almond milk and pear) and Snow White’s Delight Affogato (a thick kirsch-flavoured drinking chocolate poured over vanilla ice cream). Flavours will be available on a rotating basis – so visit often to experience all four enchanting options.

Gem Chocolates

2029 41st Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6M 1Y7

Award-winning chocolatier Glenn Knowles has designed three artful cocoa creations for the Hot Chocolate Festival, and will be switching up the flavours each week. Flower Power (January 19 to 27) is a fragrant blossom-infused milk hot chocolate served with a pop art floral marshmallow. Shot in the Dark (January 28 to February 3) is a boozy dark hot chocolate that comes with a cannonball of Bailey’s, which you can dunk into your drink to create a creamy, silky texture. Finally, Island Float (February 4 to 12) is a sweetly spiced cardamom-infused milk hot chocolate topped with a lemon meringue island.

Glenburn Soda Fountain And Confectionery

4090 Hastings Street, Burnaby, BC V5C 2H9

This old school ice cream shop in Burnaby is sure to charm visitors young and old. Enjoy four decadently retro delights throughout the festival: All That and a Bag of Chips (January 19 to 25), a salted toffee milk hot chocolate garnished with chocolate potato chip toffee; Float Your Boat (January 26 to February 1), a cola-infused dark hot chocolate topped with vanilla ice cream; Freeze Tag (February 2 to February 8), a smooth peanut butter milk hot chocolate that’s been frozen and blended; and Hot Tamale (February 9 to 14), a spicy hot cocoa laced with cinnamon Red Hots.

Koko Monk Chocolates

1849 1st Ave W, Vancouver, BC V6J 5B8

The Hot Chocolate Festival menu at this snug Kitsilano chocolatier features four poetic flavours that change every few days: Talking Dirty with Sun God is a zesty black olive dark hot chocolate with lime and chili; Sin and Salvation is a lavender white hot chocolate with fig and chamomile; Cosmic Rose is a vegan coconut milk dark hot chocolate with salted rose caramel and cardamom; and Black Velvet is a 75 percent dark drinking chocolate. We suggest visiting during the final week of the festival, when you can try a tasting flight of any three featured flavours.

Mink Chocolates

863 Hastings St W, Vancouver, BC V6C 3N9

The tongue-in-cheek drinks at Mink are not only fun to order, they’re also made with seriously high quality chocolate. The gourmet chocolatier is making hot chocolate great again with its rum-infused TRUMP hot cocoa (with the T and P crossed out). The cheeky drink features milk or dark hot chocolate poured over a Boston rum truffle from Bully Boy Distillers – plus a side of beef jerky. Alternatively, try not to smirk while ordering the Hot Pea Pea, made with high quality chocolate and Ripple’s plant-based “pea milk” – served with a baby carrot on the side.


1433 Pender St W, Vancouver, BC V6G 2S3

This stunning patisserie and boutique in Coal Harbour might be known for its dainty Parisian pastel macarons and elegant tiered cakes, but it’s the liquid concoctions that’ll steal your heart during the Hot Chocolate Festival. Lovers of the classic milk-and-cookie combo should try the D’Oh, a dark chocolate chip cookie dough hot cocoa accompanied by a cookie dough toasted marshmallow. More of a citrus fan? Opt for Grassy Roots, a white hot chocolate made with lemongrass and galangal (a spice similar to ginger) and served with lime leaf shortbread. Both flavours are on offer throughout the duration of the festival.

Temper Pastry

2409 Marine Dr, West Vancouver, BC V7V 1L3

If you’re looking for a gourmet hot chocolate in West Van, Temper is without a doubt your best bet. A slick and modern space, the café is helmed by Steve Hodge, an internationally trained pastry chef who studied with Thomas Haas. Temper has three exciting drink options on offer: Smoking Bullet, caramel milk chocolate featuring a generous glug of Bullet Bourbon and a dash of maple; Princess and the Frog, milk chocolate steamed with pistachio butter and topped with a rosewater marshmallow; and Memoirs of a Geisha, sweet white chocolate blended with raspberry matcha and topped with freeze-dried raspberry meringue.

Terra Breads

1605 Manitoba St, Vancouver, BC V5Y 0B8

With bakery and café locations in Kitsilano, Olympic Village and Mount Pleasant, it won’t be hard to taste test the two hot cocoa features on the menu at Terra Breads during the 27-day Hot Chocolate Festival. A Matcha Made in Heaven is a luscious drinking cocoa made with melted white chocolate and vanilla matcha, served with a matcha shortbread cookie on the side. Or try I Am Coconuts Over You, a mix of melted 70 percent dark chocolate, coconut, cream and toasted coconut chips, that comes with a coconut macaroon.

The Last Crumb Bakery and Cafe

3080 Main St, Vancouver, BC V5T 3G5

With high ceilings, tons of natural light and plenty of seating, this popular Main Street hangout is a welcoming place to while away the afternoon. The café menu features six hot cocoa flavours year-round, but you won’t want to miss the opportunity to sample limited-edition Hot Chocolate Festival creations. Try the coconut-flavoured It’s Raining Coconuts served with a coconut macaroon or go for Strawberries in the Snow, a dreamy pink strawberry white hot chocolate accompanied by a vanilla thumbprint cookie. Rich, Dutch cocoa serves as the base for the entire lineup of premium hot chocolates at The Last Crumb.

Aquilini Thierry Ltd

1059 Alberni St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1A1

The team at Thierry know a thing or two about chocolate; in fact, the café’s signature Mayan-style drinking chocolate is available all year long. The dessert bar is sure to be a popular spot during the Hot Chocolate Festival when two global specialty drinks make an appearance on the menu. Taste of Vietnam (January 19 to 29) is made with Vietnamese Li Chu chocolate and is served with coffee madeleine and a chocolate-dipped, bay leaf infused ganache. Taste of Peru (January 30 to February 12) is a dark hot cocoa made with chocolate from Peru’s Marañón Chocolate.

Thomas Haas Patisserie

2539 Broadway W, Vancouver, BC V6K 2E9

Arguably one of the city’s most celebrated confectionary masters, Thomas Haas has made a name for himself in Vancouver and beyond thanks to his high-quality craftsmanship and artistic approach to chocolate. Visit the North Shore or the Kitsilano location during the 2017 Hot Chocolate Festival to sample two inspired variations on the classic hot cocoa recipe. Home Run is a 67 percent dark hot chocolate flavoured with Black Forest kirsch Chantilly cream and brandied cherries. Meanwhile, the zesty Haaselnus milk hot chocolate is infused with caramelized hazelnuts and lemon zest.

Tourism Vancouver’s annual Dine Out Vancouver Festival is back this winter from January 19th to February 4th. The 17-day culinary festival will see some of the city’s hottest restaurants serving an array of mouth-watering prix-fixe menus. If you want to take your significant other for a special meal, plan a date night at one of these romantic eateries. [Photo courtesy of Boulevard/Leila Kwok]
Tourism Vancouver’s Dine Out Vancouver Festival is back this winter from January 19th to February 4th. The 17-day culinary event will see some of the city’s top restaurants serving mouth-watering prix-fixe menus for lunch and dinner. If you’re looking for a kid-approved spot with a casual atmosphere and plenty of choices for picky eaters, book a table at these family-friendly restaurants. [Photo courtesy of Bufala]
Tourism Vancouver’s annual Dine Out Vancouver Festival is back this winter from January 19th to February 4th. The 17-day culinary event provides foodies with a great opportunity to eat at Vancouver’s most acclaimed restaurants for less. If you want an upscale meal in an elegant setting, these high-end spots deliver a great bang for your buck. [Photo courtesy of YEW Seafood + Bar]
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