OKOTOKS — Downtown merchants are heating things up this month by putting their own unique spin on a popular winter beverage.
Thirteen Okotoks businesses are getting creative in KT Event’s annual Hot Chocolate Festival, striving to top their competitors with the most unique, yet tasty beverage Feb. 12 to 22.
Last year’s winner, The British Chippy, is moving on from Raspberry Whiz to Ginger Binge, says co-owner Simone Hodkinson.
“We’re making Cadbury’s hot chocolate with fresh whipping cream and we’re bingeing on ginger with crumbs on the rim of the cup,” she said. “We’re in the process of making small ginger biscuits to go on the side.”
To top the drink off, a gingerbread man will be placed in each cup as if taking a bath, said Hodkinson.
“It will look like he’s in a bubble-bath with all the fresh cream and marshmallows and pink candies that look like bath bombs.”
One of Okotoks’ newest businesses, The Park, is joining the fun with a Daddy Cocoa, Mommy Cocoa and Baby Cocoa.
Owner Sara Rae, who opened the children’s play centre in December, decided the Hot Chocolate Festival was a perfect way to promote the centre’s café.
“We’re thriving, but we wanted to promote our café for the business and people in the area to come and stay or just to get out,” she said.
The Park will serve up three different sizes of hot chocolates complete with whipped cream and a white chocolate-dipped Oreo lollypop, Rae said.
“It’s a family theme, which is what our business is – it’s run by a family for families,” she said. “We’re making it really fun and exciting for the kids, and having that Oreo lollypop dipped in white chocolate the kids will love it. The parents can put a shot of espresso in it to make it a mocha.”
KT Events creator Katie Fournell said while only three of last year’s participants are returning, more new businesses hopped on board this year.
“I’m really impressed with the businesses,” she said. “I’m loving that they’re getting more into it this year. The pictures they’re sending me, I’m like wow. They’re amazing.”
Variations range from a lavender haute chicco to incorporating Fruit Loops cereal.
Fournell came up with the idea for a hot chocolate festival last year to bring the popular event that takes place in Calgary each winter to the Foothills.
“People were saying it was the coolest thing,” she said. “They loved that there was a hot chocolate festival in town. It’s an opportunity to experiment and make it crazy and fun so kids can drink it and grownups can drink it.”
Other participating businesses are 94 Take the Cake, Little Junior, Loop Kids Boutique, Grand Central Bar & Grill, Hubtown Brewing Co., Okotoks Museum & Archives, Homeground Coffee, Sweet Threads on Main, CD Bloom Floral Studio, Okotoks Natural Foods and Sweetgrass Deli & Eatery.
To vote for your favourite, go to Okotoks Hot Chocolate Festival on Facebook, tag a business using #okotokshotchocolate on Instagram or go to hotchoco.ktevents.ca