Back when I first started exploring cocktails, one of the most useful resources I had was Esquire Drinks and the accompanying Esquire Drinks Database, both written by David Wondrich. Along with the recipes and essays on drinks, the database had (and I’m using the past tense, because damned if I can find it after the redesign) a list of “The Rules” regarding the art and wisdom of drinking. The first, and if memory serves, last rules on the list were identical: There is no such thing as a Chocolate Martini.
Agreed, I say — but I also append the caveat that I think chocolate gets a bum rap. Chocolate was the first flavor I recall loving enough to identify as a favorite (thanks in large part to the generous hand with the ice-cream scoop deployed by my regular babysitter), and today single-estate, artisan-crafted chocolate ranks high on the epicurean scale.
But when it comes to the cocktail world, respectable uses of chocolate are in short supply. Sure, you’ve got the simple shot of green Chartreuse in a mug of hot chocolate — and if you haven’t gone that route, then you have no idea what you’re missing — and classics such as the Twentieth Century (there are others, but not many). Some contemporary bartenders are playing with chocolate — Daniel Shoemaker served me an amazing bourbon-based Last Days made with a house creme de cacao at Teardrop Lounge in Portland a while back, Jamie Boudreau has a brandy-based Green Glacier that’s pretty damn good, and I’ve heard rumblings of goings on in San Francisco — and in Boston, Avery Glasser is moving incrementally closer to getting the phenomenally good Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters onto the market.
These are good doses of chocolate love, but it’s only a start. I’m hoping to play around more with the flavor in the months to come (likely including forays into homemade chocolate liqueurs — pray for me, please) but here’s a drink I’ve been having some fun with lately.
Before I get into the recipe, an explanation: I’m trying to make this as user-friendly as possible, but for the handful of folks out there with a sample of Bittermens mole bitters and/or Jamie Boudreau’s Amer Picon replica, I used these in the original incarnation, in place of the mescal and Averna, respectively (though with a dash of the bitters instead of the teaspoon of mescal — but you probably figured that out already). Try out that formulation if you’ve got the goods; otherwise, here’s the —
- 2 ounces reposado tequila
- 1/2 ounce Carpano Antica vermouth
- 1/2 ounce Averna
- 1/4 ounce creme de cacao (I’m using Marie Brizard, as it’s the least execrable I’ve found)
- 1 teaspoon mescal
Assemble in a mixing glass and do that thing where you stir with cracked ice for 20 seconds or so. Strain into chilled cocktail glass; twist a piece of orange zest over the top and use as garnish.
This drink bears some relation to the Camerone. Tequila just works so well with chocolate, and in the original Picon version of the Theobroma, you have that bitter orange element playing off of — and subduing — the sweetness of the creme de cacao. The Antica contributes complexity along with a cinnamon / vanilla note, and in this version, the mescal lends a hint of fire and smoke, which gives that favorite kiddo flavor a hint of danger. At a quarter-ounce, the chocolate isn’t prominent, but neither is it hiding; with a standard cacao I’m reluctant to bump it any higher, but with something with a little more bitter-chocolate character, hell yes.
Anyway, give this a try if you have the fixins, and let me know what you think.
This drink is part of 30/30, a series of 30 drinks in 30 days — or as much as I can keep up before collapsing in a weary, booze-addled heap.