Miracle on Ninth Street isn’t the only downtown bar with a holiday pop-up this December. Following the success of his summertime iced-coffee counter, head sommelier Caleb Ganzer has transformed Nolita’s Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels (249 Centre Street, 212-343-3660) into a daytime hot chocolate bar and gift shop, now open from noon to 3 p.m. daily through Christmas.
While the bar is stocked with chocolate bars and coffee growlers, a festive reservations-only backroom pumps out Christmas reggae while guests sip on wine glasses overflowing with two cocoa variations: a 70 percent blend of Mast Brothers Madagascar Tanzania and Peruvian dark chocolate, blended with Trickling Springs milk, is served straight with a whipped cream float, or — for a real afternoon wake-up call — with a fifty-fifty mix of Parlor Coffee cold-brew concentrate.
“It’s pretty intense and packs a powerful punch, which is why it’s daytime only,” says Ganzer, who maintains traces of his experimental coffee program. “We have some neighborhood devotees that still come in to ask for it, and we use a cold-brew reduction at night as well for our affogato.”
Ganzer’s longtime girlfriend, Roxie Jones — a former pastry chef turned popular SoulCycle instructor — bakes up petite pairings to accompany the cocoa, with new bites to be revealed weekly in decorative wooden chests. For the first week, she’s produced rose water donuts with lemon glaze and pink peppercorns, a chocolate terrine layering shortbread, pistachios, and cherries, and brown-butter coconut macaroons glazed with dark chocolate and studded with pistachios.
“She started working at DB Bistro Moderne when I worked as a sommelier there,” says Ganzer, “and now she bakes all her friends’ birthday cakes and is constantly in the kitchen at home. So I said, ‘Let’s bring you in to do some treats for us.’ ” New creations in the coming weeks will include pumpkin pound cake and miniature carrot cake sandwiches. “I just told her to give me some chocolate, some spice, some nuts, and let her take it where she wanted it.”
The brown butter Jones uses in her baking is the product of Compagnie’s chef Eric Bolyard, another Eleven Madison Park veteran, who left the restaurant to launch a new enterprise, Black & Bolyard, with partner Andrew Black. “He took a year off to do private events and get the brand going before coming here,” recalls Ganzer, who now stocks the jars of flavored brown butter in the bar’s front room pop-up shop. “They haven’t even done the official launch party yet, but it’s a fantastic product and already in several of our dishes. You can put it on toast, add it to sauces, whatever you want. It’s a staple in every Michelin kitchen, but no one’s ever bottled it before.”