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The cold has started to set in, and we are now welcoming back warming beverages that act as balms to these wintery conditions. However, with increasing access to exciting ingredients all year round, we have started to see fantastic adaptations of summery cocktails for the colder times. Perhaps one ingredient that stands above others is chocolate — one of the most versatile ingredients in food and drink. Here are five unforgettable chocolate cocktails for great occasions.
A variation of the classic White Russian, the chocolate twist in this pushes the cocktail to the more indulgent side and is a perfect post-dinner drink to settle any sweet cravings you may have. This cocktail is very simple to make, as it uses exactly the same ingredients as the White Russian. Start with Kahlua, vodka, and milk (or cream if you’re a traditionalist). How you vary the quantities is up to you, but to make it chocolate-flavored, simply replace the coffee liqueur (Kahlua) with chocolate liqueur. As we know, chocolate and coffee are a match made in heaven, so why not try half chocolate liqueur and half coffee liqueur to create a delicious mocha flavor! It’s indulgent, and it’s a perfect wintery digestif to settle the stomach after a hearty meal. Serve this in an old-fashioned glass filled with ice, and top with chocolate sprinkles — it’s a winner.
Sticking with the chocolate and coffee theme, we move on to another classic. The Espresso Martini itself is relatively simple to make; it’s just a combination of coffee liqueur, espresso (brewed and cooled), and vodka (yes, not martini, and go for a vanilla vodka to really complement the chocolate), and be sure to shake vigorously with plenty of ice. To add the chocolate flavor, using a chocolate liqueur in the mix is the simplest way. A liqueur such as crème de cacao (dark) or Mozart Dark are excellent options, and follow the same rule as the Chocolate Russian; replace half of the coffee liqueur with the chocolate liqueur. However, if you have a bit of time and you really want to impress your guests, melt some dark chocolate over a bain marie until it’s smooth, dip the rim of a martini glass into the mixture and set aside in the freezer to cool before adding the cocktail. This one is a real crowd pleaser, and after a hearty meal, the espresso will perk everyone right up again.
There’s nothing much more comforting than a good old banana split — it represents American indulgence at its most glorious, and adapting the dessert into a cocktail is so simple. Traditionally, the banana split cocktail is coffee liqueur, banana liqueur, and half-and-half (milk and cream), all in one part equal measures, then topped with pineapple juice and shaken. To add the chocolate flavor, all you need to do is substitute one-third of the coffee and banana liqueur measures with chocolate liqueur (crème de cacao will really complement the half-and-half here). Alternatively, if you do not want to overdo it, you also can create this as a shot. In the shot glass, layer banana liqueur, Irish cream, and cream in equal measures, and then add chocolate liqueur, which will sink to the bottom. This will create a wonderfully layered shot that, at a dinner party, will be a showstopper.
You might think this is an unusual flavor combination; however, the main flavoring component of gin is juniper — indeed, it cannot be called gin unless it has been predominantly infused with junipers — and chocolate and juniper are a well-known combination. Indeed, they are regularly seen together in the bakery world. Unlike the previous examples, you can’t just add in a chocolate liqueur to a London gin. Well, you could, but it wouldn’t taste particularly good. For the best results, a gin that has been infused with cacao as its secondary flavoring is the one to go for (Hotel Chocolat sell such a gin). Treat this as you would any normal G&T; however, instead of using lemon or lime, try some orange peel to really get the most out of that cacao gin and optimize the flavor combination. G&Ts are a staple in any household; they always go down a storm at dinner parties, and this chocolate version really shakes up the old favorite.
So, we come to the final cocktail on this list, and we’ve saved the best for last. The Negroni cocktail is a combination of gin (one part, preferably London dry), vermouth (three-fourths part, a fortified wine flavored with various botanicals, Punt e Mes is a good choice), Campari (three-fourths part, a liqueur that has fruit flavorings), and garnished with orange peel. Each of these four ingredients complement and balance the bitterness and depth of dark chocolate, and it gives a fantastic twist on this Italian classic. To get the chocolate flavor, simply add in one-fourth part crème de cacao and, for the knockout ingredient, add in a few dashes of Mole bitters for extra depth and warming character. Absolutely sensational!