MANHATTAN —The chef at Gramercy Park's Bar Jamón begins his signature hot cocoa by grinding together bittersweet chocolate, cayenne pepper, chili flakes, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Anthony Sasso then melts the spicy chocolate mixture, combines it with steamed milk and serves it up alongside Spanish-style churros at the cozy Mario Batali-owned tapas and wine bar at 15 E. 17th St.
"Spaniards drink really strong coffee, and it's the same with their chocolate," he said. "When they want it, they want it with a nice kick."
Sasso's spicy recipe is one several shared with DNAinfo as the temperatures head toward freezing and New Yorkers start looking for drinks to warm them up.
The hot chocolate at Otto Enoteca Pizzeria at 1 Fifth Ave. in Greenwich Village provides a classy alternative to eating hazelnut chocolate spread straight out of the jar.
The gianduja calda, Italian for "hot hazelnut chocolate," at Otto is made with melted Italian hazelnut chocolate combined with milk that has had hazelnuts soaking in it, pastry chef Meredith Kurtzman said.
"It's like Nutella. People love Nutella, so why wouldn't they love hazelnut-flavored hot chocolate?" she said.
A cup of the "rich, but not too rich" drink ($5.50) is topped with whipped cream and accompanied by hazelnut biscotti, Kurtzman said.
In Hudson Square, Jacques "Mr. Chocolate" Torres said top-notch ingredients, including chocolate from "Africa and the Americas," are what makes the creamy hot cocoa at his eponymous shop memorable.
"Quality is the most difficult thing to duplicate, not complication," he said in an interview in his 350 Hudson St. shop and factory in Hudson Square, one of six locations citywide.
"I wanted [the hot chocolate] to be like when you go to a little salon du thé in Paris and get a little drink and a croissant," he said.
Jacques Torres' hot cocoa ($3.25 for a small, $4.25 for a large) is also available in hot pepper, white chai, orange, peanut butter and caramel.
Near Union Square, Max "the Bald Man" Brenner's team serves up eight styles of hot chocolate drinks, each made with dark, milk or white chocolate. The 841 Broadway restaurant's offerings include "choco-pops" hot chocolate with crispy chocolate wafer balls, Italian thick hot chocolate with vanilla cream and Swiss hot chocolate that's whipped.