Whether you like it or not, Wisconsin winter is upon us. It is time to dig out your winter coat, hats, gloves, and get yourself in the holiday spirit with hot chocolate. Where can you find the best hot chocolate in Madison? After tasting cups of cheer from 7 different places on and off-campus, I have figured out which one is best.

7. Gordons Avenue Market

coffee, espresso, cappuccino, milk, mocha, hot chocolate, chocolate, cream
Sarah Arora

The hot chocolate might be machine-generated, but it could be worse. It's a bit too sweet for me, but worth the $1. Plus it is convenient if you need something quick on a cold day.

6. Fair Trade Coffee House 

coffee, cappuccino, espresso, milk, hot chocolate, chocolate
Sarah Arora

On an honest note, this hot chocolate had no flavor. Essentially, it was basically just hot milk dusted with cocoa powder. The only thing saving this endeavor was the panini I ate along side the drink. 

5. Starbucks

Admittedly Starbucks is not unique to Madison, but as a kid who grew up loving their hot chocolate, I remain loyal. The flavor is timeless and not too bold, creating a sense of familiarity. I even tried the peppermint hot chocolate, as a way to get into the holiday spirit as early as possible.

4. Colectivo

milk, coffee, cappuccino, espresso, mocha, chocolate, cream
Sarah Arora

Colectivo's take on hot chocolate tasted like hot milk with just the slightest hint of chocolate. I liked it, but it needed more depth since I'm a fan of the strong chocolate flavor. Despite the subtle flavor, they get points for creativity.

3. Prairie Fire

cream, milk, chocolate, coffee, cappuccino, ice, mocha, hot chocolate
Sarah Arora

I ordered hot chocolate with a pump of peppermint syrup at Prairie Fire, the coffee shop at Union South. The milk chocolate and strong candy cane flavor tasted like the holidays.

2. Java Den

coffee, milk, cream, chocolate, cappuccino, espresso, mocha
Sarah Arora

After my three-hour chem lab on Friday mornings, Java Den is my go-to spot. Their rendition of hot chocolate tasted like original, good-quality milk chocolate. And I honestly could've eaten an entire bowl of that whipped cream. 

1. Espresso Royale

coffee, milk, cappuccino, cream, espresso, mocha, chocolate
Sarah Arora

Rich, creamy, and by far my favorite. I loved the deep dark chocolate flavor. The rich flavor plus the light whip cream makes this one the star of the show. Try it with peanut butter or peppermint syrup for something extra special. 

If you're ever feeling cold in Madison, hot chocolate is the cure. No matter where you go, it'll warm you up. Stop by a local shop today!