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The best hot drinks around Budapest this Christmas

In this winter’s Christmas rush, treat yourself to a hot drink, boozy or alcohol-free, to make the world a better place as you relax. Tea, coffee, mulled wine and, bringing memories of happy childhoods, hot chocolate, warm hands and hearts around the city. Here are our favourites!

1/11

Ahoy!

A warming atmosphere straight out of an English fairy tale, greets the visitor as they peruse the drinks crowned with marshmallows, dragées and fruit. Ahoy! knows how to win over hearts and minds. In the realm of hot chocolate and waffles, you can also choose a ready-made selection (HUF 1,420-1,790), but perhaps it’s more fun to create your own version, customising it Scandinavian- or American-style. From the four bases (sugar-free, dark, white and milk chocolate) you can choose from several flavours, such as cherry, cinnamon or hazelnut, for which you can also ask for whipped cream, marshmallows and other toppings, and one eight types of dragées. This place is also great because you can put together a completely sugar-free, yet gaily decorated, version. However, given it’s winter, you might do well to stay with the Flavour Bomb (HUF 1,650) of a dark chocolate base, salty-caramel flavour, whipped cream, caramel sauce and caramel popcorn.

2/11

Cloe Café

Christmas is pink at the Cloe Cafe, where girls and their girlfriends can have the most fun. For the Christmas season, you can also sample their special hot drink, the Chocolate Bomb (HUF 2,500), the essence of which is to pour the hot milk in the shaker into a Belgian chocolate ball filled with dragées, marshmallows and other delicacies. We tried a salty-caramel version that not only tasted great, but satisfyingly presented the spectacle of the milk slowly melting into the delicious Belgian chocolate. In addition to Budapest, Győr and Szeged, Cloe will soon be available in Milan.

3/11

Csészényi Kávézó

For lovers of hot chocolate with exciting textures, the Csészényi Café is the land of plenty. There are a total of six versions to choose from, including plum-cinnamon and marshmallow. We tasted the orange (HUF 900), the highlight being that the texture was not too concentrated but dense enough to retain the candied pieces of fruit so they did not sink to the bottom. They make for unexpected taste bombs you can chew on as you fish around for them in the divine gloop. By the way, there are a fair number of coffees and alcoholic warmers at Csészényi, not least the delicious yellow bombardino, a well-known favourite from the ski slopes.

4/11

Gelarto Rosa

Just a few steps from the Basilica, Gelarto Rosa doesn’t just shovel out ice cream: each one forms a blooming rose, even in winter. When it’s chilly, however, you can also pop in for one of their famous hot chocolates. Mix egg nog, silky dark chocolate, hard whipped cream and a secret spice (HUF 1,650), and your cold mood lifts in an instance. An essential accessory for wandering around the Christmas market alongside.

5/11

Kornél

An overflow from the bustle of now trendy Bartók Béla út, Kosztolányi Dezső tér is where you find Kornél, great for a short winter slowdown, and worth the journey to south Buda alone for its golden latte, here called aranytej, ‘golden milk’. This drink, flavoured with turmeric, ginger and Christmas spices, is also available with cow’s milk, but the speciality with oatmeal and no sugar might be the best choice. It comes topped with freeze-dried raspberries, making the drink more interesting and full of fruity goodness, and yes, the yellow of the turmeric and the red of the raspberries are a treat for the eyes on a grey winter’s day.

6/11

Normafa Síház

After the recent snowfall here, everyone’s crossing their fingers for more winter white, when hilly Normafa beckons you to explore a magical fairy-tale land. And even if it doesn’t come our way, you can still enjoy a real winter atmosphere and lovely views at the Normafa Síház, renovated 18 months ago. Beyond coffee and hot chocolate, hot drinks include the special fruit tea (HUF 700), cinnamon-plum hot apple juice (HUF 750) or you can ask for a little mood enhancer with the tried and trusted classics. You can jazz up your coffee with Jameson whiskey (HUF 1,300), your tea with Kraken rum (HUF 1,350), your hot chocolate with Hennessy cognac (HUF 1,650) and your apple juice with Tubi liqueur (HUF 1,600), but you can even reward your hike with a cocktail with the help of the evergreen Jägerbomb, a delicious negroni or a Tubi-soda-and-lime. As an Advent surprise, they’ve just introduced mulled wines with special flavours.

7/11

Nothing Cafe

It wasn’t that long ago that Azték Choxolat! in the downtown Röser courtyard changed to become the Nothing Cafe but the offer and the feel of a secluded fairy-tale shop remain the same. You can choose from a total of 23 hot-chocolate varieties, for which you can make four additional toppings, and also order your drink with plant-based milk. We went the whole hog and weren’t disappointed by the matcha hot white chocolate (HUF 1,190). The bitter, green taste of the matcha was well balanced by the sweetness of the white chocolate, a hot drink with a creamy, rich taste. Versions made from black chocolate are also exciting, including chili-, ginger- and rosé-tinged. For lovers of more traditional flavours, the milk-chocolate versions with almonds, hazelnuts or even caramel are recommended.

8/11

Rengeteg RomKafé

The sought-after Rengeteg RomKafé is everyone’s favourite: a perfect spot for a romantic rendezvous, a hot-chocolate sanctuary, an alternative, teddy-bear reality and a fancy nook for all ages under brewery bar Élesztőház. Chillmaster Tibor Szabó created a chocolate recipe (HUF 1,150) for the signature drink from when this operation was the revered Míves in Miskolc, using raspberries from around the nearby Slovak border, and named it after a pálinka from Prešov. It is made from 72% Belgian dark chocolate, with a light almond and raspberry flavour, half a centimetre of Nógrád raspberry pálinka, cold raspberry grains and whipped cream. It’s highly addictive and a regulars’ favourite.

9/11

Twentysix

At Twentysix, at simple yet refined gastronomic experience is made really special by the superfood lattes. The secret of these hot drinks (HUF 990-1,790), their unusual ingredients, different flavours and warming impact, lies in the spices. One of the most colourful vegan coffees, christened Golden Latte, is fooled with turmeric, ginger, black pepper and cardamom, with many beneficial effects. Also in the house is its own novelty, Coffee Tahini, which evokes the taste of the Middle East and, in addition to the meeting of tahini and espresso, is made memorable by the combination of cashews and oats. (x)

10/11

Újlipótvárosi Karácsonyi POP UP!

Újlipótváros Christmas POP UP! is now open for the festive period. The team at trendy Levantine eatery Babka has created an innovative, unique selection of hot drinks for the fair. Our favourite is the plum dumpling tchai (HUF 1,200), made from highly cultivated Nepalese black tea, a homemade cardamom spice brew and Kunság plum sauce, steamed hot with almond milk. The hot chocolate is flavoured with tonka beans and the turmeric latte (aka Golden Milk) with a pinch of vanilla. The hot grape juice cooked with green tea and ginger, the pink punch and the hot ginger lemonade (aka Ginger Limo) are also excellent.

11/11

Café Zsivágó

Calming furnishings, samovars and pierogi are the main elements here. Hot drinks accentuate the Russian atmosphere, and you can not only ask for teas, but also alcoholic warmers, pleasing coffee liqueurs with milk or bitter-sweet almond liqueur. Of the more traditional versions, the After Eight (HUF 650) features a piece of chocolate slowly melting in the hot base, enjoyable to mix as it becomes more and more minty in the small vintage cup.

Cimkék

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