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Fine Chocolate Cocktails

Fine Chocolate Cocktails

How to use real chocolate in cocktails

The trend for cocktails is fuelled by our desire for more interesting and unique flavours which makes them a good vehicle for attracting an audience for the flavour potential of fine chocolate. It also introduces fun into alcohol and there is always room for fun in fine chocolate too.

Chocolate in cold drinks, however, doesn’t necessarily have immediate appeal. The nearest thing most of us in the UK have had to a cold chocolate drink is either flavoured milk (how anyone can drink that is beyond me), chocolate flavoured spirits or the sweet vanilla flavoured crème de cacaos. This is probably why I have previously shied away from chocolate cocktails. But our chocolate tasting club meets in a pub and the temptation to combine chocolate and spirits in a meaningful way was just too great. Teaming up with landlady, mixologist and chocolate taster Victoria Hopper from The Brown Cow, Louth, we set ourselves the challenge of curating a Cocoa Loca cocktail night that explained the benefits of real chocolate, introduced the use of real chocolate in cocktails and maintained the character of the chocolate in the taste experience.

With the permission The Brown Cow, I’m sharing the recipes for the cocktails for our most recent event.

Dry Duffy Martini

During my own research and experiments I found a recipe by Paul A Young showing you how to make a chocolate base with dark chocolate, sugar and water. This was used to make his ‘ultimate chocolate martini’. The recipe simply states 100g 70% dark chocolate but the choice of chocolate is key here to retain the chocolate’s character and maintain the balance. Made with Pump Street Madagascar and Chocolat Madagascar the fruity profile retains its bright notes beside the crisp taste of the martini. It is not sweet and the flavour is worlds away from the dominating vanilla of a martini made with a standard chocolate liqueur. It is chocolatey, zesty, smooth, deep and luxurious.

Balance is key here: even with some fine chocolate, the alcohol dominates or in others we tried, the chocolate flavours shine but the spirits recede and you want to taste both. The recipe used in our most recent cocktail night used the robust fruity profile of Duffy’s Dominican Republic 65%. Our Dry Duffy Martini also earnt the nickname of a Humberslide! Here’s how to make it:

First make the chocolate liquor by putting 150ml water, 100g Duffy’s Dominican Republic 65% dark chocolate (you could use the drops or broken up bars) and 100g golden caster sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over a low heat, stirring constantly. Leave to cool which takes a few hours, so don’t try to make it in a rush!

For 2 cocktails, add 4 measures of the chocolate liquor, 4 measures of Sipsmith London Dry Gin and 2 measures of Martini Extra Dry White Vermouth to a cocktail shaker half filled with ice. Shake well, strain into glasses and top with grated chocolate.

Drunken Dormouse

White chocolate seems to be another favourite for cocktails, possibly due to the promotion of Godiva white chocolate liqueur with its creamy mouthfeel and those distinctive vanilla notes again.

It works even better with real chocolate. Try it with your go-to white chocolate. Mine is the Dormouse Toasted White made with Madagascan cocoa butter and caramelized milk powder (and definitely no vanilla). We chose a cream dilutant for our white chocolate liquor rather than water. There are plenty of recipes online for home-made white chocolate liqueur. We kept ours simple but based on a Tipsy bartender recipe:

To make the basic chocolate liqueur put 60ml single cream, 60ml milk and 100g Dormouse Toasted White Chocolate (broken up) and 1 tablespoon golden caster sugar in a saucepan and melt until smooth and combined (not simmering this time). When cool, add 240ml of a good unflavoured vodka and allow to infuse overnight in the fridge.

To make two Drunken Dormice, half fill the shaker with ice and add 100ml home-made white chocolate liqueur and 50ml of your chosen vodka, we used our Edwards 1902 Vodka made from King Edwards potatoes here in the Lincolnshire Wolds, it has a deliciously creamy taste and also added some structure. Give it a really good shake. You need to create a good foam to give a milk shake finish. Strain into the glasses allowing the froth to build and sprinkle with more grated white chocolate to garnish.

Cacao Pulp Fiction

Good cacao pulp juice is gorgeous on its own with its gentle white fruit flavours of lychee and pear and its honey sweetness but as soon as I tasted it, I knew it was going to end up in a cocktail. The Pacha de Cacao Instagram has some good ideas for cocktails and mocktails. We thought it might work well with a mimosa-like sparkle, so we added Prosecco for balance and a shot of Triple Sec orange liqueur for added dimension. It tastes quite like a grown-up version of Lilt, the fizzy fruit drink we were introduced to in the 70s with its “Totally Tropical Taste”. It could replace a Bucks Fizz or mimosa as a lunch-time drink and would make the perfect start to Christmas Day!

To prepare two glasses, shake 50ml Pacha de Cacao and 50ml Triple Sec with ice and strain into a champagne glass, top up with Prosecco and garnish with a section of pear. 

Remember, if you are looking for the distinctive tastes of the chocolate or pulp in a cocktail, it helps to sample them beforehand. Taste the chocolate, sample the pulp and explore how the flavours evolve and mix with the other ingredients and play out in the final cocktail.

Drink responsibly, buy your chocolate responsibly and have fun!

Prepping cocktails for Cocoa Loca, Louth, September 2022.

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