We've long been fans of the intense, rustic chocolate bars made by local producer Chocovivo.
But owner Patricia Tsai's new, oxymoronic creation at her bean-to-bar café in Culver City, iced hot chocolate ($5), has whipped our admiration into an even frothier state.
Made with the same stone-ground cacao nibs as her chocolate bars, the finely textured, barely sweetened drink is far closer to what the Aztecs once sipped than anything you'll find in the candy aisle.
"I've always thought that hot drinking chocolates are the best way to experience our product," says Tsai, "but there's never been much of a demand for them here in L.A., so we added ice."
Customers choose one of Chocovivo's dozen or so rotating flavors, ranging from chile pepper-and-cinnamon to goji berry-and-black sesame. The squares of chocolate are tempered with Straus milk, house-made hazelnut milk or a dash of water, then poured over ice.
The resulting beverage is remarkably smooth and armed with the earthy potency of a strong espresso drink.
Our favorite version, made with 85 percent cacao dark chocolate, highlighted the nuances of the fragrant, Mexico-sourced beans as well as any bar could.
It's pure chocolate nirvana, complete with a straw.
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