As wintery weather finally settles into the central San Joaquin Valley, it’s good to know where you can find a hot drink to take the chill off.
From steamy cups of hot chocolate to a spice-filled concoction from South America, the Fresno area has wide array of choices for nearly every taste.
Hot chocolate lovers will appreciate the attention put into Ampersand Ice Cream’s version of the classic chocolate drink. Amelia Bennett, who owns the popular ice cream shop with husband Jeff, says their hot chocolate is based on the recipe for their hot fudge sauce.
“It is super rich, sweet and chocolatey,” Bennett says. “It is everything people look for in a good hot chocolate.”
You can get your hot chocolate with whipped cream, or mini marshmallows. But keep in mind, the specialty drink is only served from 5-10 p.m. The ice cream shop is located on 1940 N Echo Ave, across the street from Fresno High School.
Coffee shop owner and coffee roaster Mario Vargas wanted to bring something new to the Fresno area when he opened Valparaiso Cafe & Roastery, 700 Van Ness Ave.
Along with lattes and fresh roasted coffee, he has introduced a Chilean specialty called cola de mono, or monkey’s tail. The highly spiced and alcoholic drink is usually served during the Christmas season.
Vargas’s version replaces the booze with two shots of espresso. And it still has the steamed milk and an aromatic mix of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.
As you sip the drink, you immediately taste the steamed milk followed quickly by the intense flavor of the cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. It’s warm flavors feel like a big blanket on a cold winter’s day.
“One of my customers says it’s like a big bear hug,” Vargas says with a laugh.
Equally comforting is a Mexican hot drink known as champurrado, a thick, chocolate-based drink spiced with cinnamon, anise or vanilla.
Zamora Taqueria's, 619 Divisadero St, Fresno, is a sliver of a restaurant in downtown Fresno, but their champurrado is some of the best. It’s thick, but not dense, and perfectly sweetened. It tastes more like hot chocolate, but with lighter chocolate flavor and a hint of cinnamon.
If hot tea is more your thing, Teazer World Market has several seasonal hot tea drinks including Kama Sutra Chai, made with traditional Indian chai spice, rose and jasmine petals, black tea, honey and brown sugar. The tea is full-bodied with some very nice floral notes.
Teazer World Market has four locations: 3140 W. Shaw Ave., 645 E. Olive Ave. in the Tower District, 2405 Capitol St. in downtown Fresno and in River Park at 115 Paseo Del Centro.
At Raizana Tea Company, 2015 Tuolumne St. in Fresno, popular hot drinks include the Choco Chile Chai tea, an earthy blend of rooibos tea with a hit of chocolate. Also tasty is the Coconut Chai tea, a combination of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice, cloves, coconut flake and black pepper. It’s warm and satisfying.