By Patti Woods
Valentine's Day is the one time of year when otherwise health-conscious adults can get away with having chocolate for every meal.
Heart-shaped chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, handfuls of Hershey's Kisses from the office candy jar for lunch, chicken in cocoa-infused mole sauce for dinner, and any number of chocolate confections for dessert.
But don't neglect the wide world of beverages. Believe it or not, there are chocolate-based drinks for every minute of Valentine's Day, from breakfast to a nightcap.
At Fairfield's Las Vetas Lounge, the drink menu offers a number of chocolate-laced espresso drinks to kick-start your day. There's the S'mores Latta Latte, which combines Hershey's chocolate syrup, Torani Toasted Marshmallow syrup, espresso and steamed milk. Or the Turtle, which blends Ghirardelli caramel and chocolate sauces with espresso and steamed milk.
Not a coffee drinker? Check out the various hot chocolates offered at the downtown Fairfield coffeehouse, including Nutella Hot Chocolate and Bonnell's Triple Threat Hot Chocolate (Ghirardelli chocolate with Torani White Chocolate Syrup, semi-sweet chocolate chips, whipped cream and a cherry).
"But I don't drink coffee or hot chocolate," you say. "I'm a tea drinker." Believe it or not, there is such a thing as chocolate tea. At The Pantry in Fairfield, you can pair one of their gluten-free brownies with a cup of Harney and Sons Chocolate and Coconut Tea (it tastes just like a Mounds bar). Or at David's Tea in Westport, check out the Chocolate Orange, Chocolate Rocket, Mint Chocolate Rooibos and Red Velvet Cake and Chocolate Chili Chai teas. They even offer six different cocoa-inspired teas in a "Chocolate Box" assortment.
Of course, when tea time is over, it's time to get down to business. Valentine's Day happy hour is even happier with chocolate-themed drinks.
At Westport's Bottlerocket Wine and Spirits, there seems to be something chocolatey in every drink category. Yes, there's chocolate liqueur like Godiva, but there's also chocolate vodka.
"Our clientele is very familiar with craft beer," sales associate Raven Blake said.
The store carries several different chocolate stouts, including Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and Young's Double Chocolate Stout.
"My favorite is the Southern Tier Imperial Choklat Stout," Blake said.
If you find yourself celebrating Valentine's Day at a restaurant, take a peek at the cocktail menus for the evening.
At Southport's Gray Goose, you can order a White Chocolate martini made with Stoli Vanilla vodka, a splash of Godiva White Chocolate Liquor and White Crème de Cacao with a Hershey's chocolate syrup swirl and chocolate shavings.
At Bobby Q's in downtown Westport, drinks can double as dessert if you pick a Peppermint Patty (Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, Crème de Menthe and Bailey's) or a Big Poppa Sweets (Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, Bailey's and Butterscotch Schnapps).
It's not every day you can indulge in over-the-top chocolate bliss, so Valentine's Day provides the perfect excuse. Start the morning with a mug of creamy, rich hot chocolate, and cap off the day with a chocolate kick.
Allow Cupid to work his Valentine's Day magic because, let's face it, Feb. 15 will be here soon enough.
Patti Woods is a freelance writer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For decadent hot chocolate:
Las Vetas Lounge, 27 Unquowa Road, Fairfield; 203-255-1958
For a cup of chocolate tea:
The Pantry, 1580 Post Road, Fairfield; 203-259-0400
David's Tea, 135 Main St., Westport; 203-221-4435
Bottlerocket, 1790 Post Road East, Westport; 203-259-3939
Saddle up to the bar:
Gray Goose, 246 Old Post Road, Southport section of Fairfield; 203-292-8779
Bobby Q's: 42 Main St., Westport; 203-454-7800