Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Chocolate and Cocktail Pairings

Lately, I've been working on a creative cocktail pairing idea. I met a woman here in Chicago who handmakes traditional chocolate truffles, and by happenstance we were at an event together (she was promoting her truffles, I was promoting my distillery). It turned out that one of my cocktails paired perfectly with one of her truffles. It was a classic pairing - each was great on its own, but together, they brought out new flavors in each other and created a different taste experience.

I've heard of wine & chocolate pairings, but only a few people in Chicago are doing anything with cocktails or spirits and any type of food, let alone truffles. It was a fun (and tasty) project, so I kept working with more of her truffles. I came up with some great pairings, and I also made some cocktails that were good on their own, but definitely not with truffles. Here's an update on what I came up with (the good ones, anyway):

Pairing No. 1 - Citrus
  • Truffle: Semisweet chocolate, with lemon, orange, and lime; topped with homemade candied orange peel
  • Cocktail: 2 oz. NS Tahitian vanilla vodka, 1 oz. fresh tangelo juice, splash of fresh lime and dash of ginger liqueur (I used Massenez); served up
  • Notes: The underlying vanilla tones heightened the chocolate, and the citrus notes complemented each other well. Surprisingly, the drink did not drown out the citrus notes in the truffle.
Pairing No. 2 - Nuts & Spices
  • Truffle: Milk chocolate, hazelnut puree, roasted ground hazelnuts
  • Cocktail: 2 oz gin (I used Distiller's Gin No. 6, as you might expect), 1 oz fresh lime juice Juice, 1 oz ginger-infused simple syrup (1:1 ratio); shaken & strained through cinnamon stick resting in cocktail glass
  • Notes: This pairing surprised my new chocolatier friend; the ginger, cinnamon & spices in the gin actually accentuated the nuttiness of the chocolate rather than drowning it out (her fear), and the lime balanced the sweetness.
Pairing No. 3 - Tropical
  • Truffle: Bittersweet chocolate, dark rum, freshly toasted coconut
  • Cocktail: 1 oz NS Vodka, 1/2 oz pineapple juice, 1/2 oz apricot liqueur (Rothman & Winter), and 1/2 oz amaro (Averna); shake, then strain into glass of ice & top with club soda
  • Notes: I wanted to use rum here, but alas we don't make one, and I wanted to stay within our product line. At first I tried using coconut in the drink, but any hint of it destroyed the delicate coconut in the truffle. So I went for other tropical flavors, with the pineapple and apricot, and then the amaro to cut the sweetness and add some depth.
Anyone else have pairing stories with chocolate? Wanna try your any of these or develop your own? You can get the truffles I was using from Katherine-Anne Confections. Chances are, you'll talk to Katherine herself if you order - she literally makes each truffle by hand (and they are fantastic). We had so much fun with this, we're thinking we ought to offer this more broadly as an event or something. We had one trial run so far, and it went great!

1 comment:

Raj said...

Hi Sonja
You should use the Amrut Old Port Rum, which you liked so much - makes great cocktails.