This is the first time I've ever made a cocktail for Mixology Monday when I was the one who came up with the theme! The monthly cocktail challenge has been through 114 iterations at this point, and they've covered all sorts of topics and ingredients. I was a little surprised that chocolate wasn't already on the list. I can't wait to see what everyone does with what is quite possibly my all-time favorite food. If you missed it, check out the announcement post here.
I decided I wanted to use cacao nibs in my cocktail. I have a whole bag left over from my homemade Coffee Pecan Bitters and I've been itching to do something with them. They have this incredible dark chocolate scent that I wanted to impart into a cocktail without introducing the sweetness of chocolate in most of its other forms. I figured the best way to do this would be with an infusion. There are a couple of cocktails in the Death & Co book that use cacao nib infusions, and it's a quick and easy way to introduce the flavor of cacao nibs into a drink.
Cacao nibs are the seeds of the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao. The seeds are removed from the fruit, fermented, dried, roasted, and cracked open, giving us cacao nibs. From here, the nibs have many uses. They can be ground up and mixed with milk and sugar to make chocolate, or the grinds can be used sort of like ground coffee to make traditional cocoa tea. Cocoa powder is made through a process that removes the fat, or cocoa butter, from the nibs, allowing them to be ground even finer and drier for baking or hot chocolate. The cocoa butter can be added to chocolate bars or used in lotions. Cacao nibs are amazing little things!
Death & Co provides recipes for cacao nib infused tequila blanco and Campari. I decided to try both of these, as well as some bourbon, sweet vermouth, and rum. For the rum I went with my new bottle of Rhum Clement, an agricole rhum from Martinique. The results were interesting. I found the tequila a bit strange and jarring, and the sweet vermouth smelled exactly like barbecue sauce - intriguing, but not really appealing to me. The bourbon, Campari, and rum were my favorites, and as I started experimenting with them in cocktails, I ultimately settled on the Rhum Clement.
I was also interested in introducing some Ramazzotti to the mix. I haven't talked about Ramazzotti yet, except briefly in my post on amari - my growing bar has outpaced my Bottle Buy posts, and I need to catch up! Ramazzotti is a thick, sweet, citrusy amaro. It's often described as having a "root beer" flavor, but it's the orange notes that I really pick up on. Right after I got a bottle I had a bit with some Godiva blood orange dark chocolate that we'd gotten for Christmas, and I thought it was the most perfect pairing imaginable. I wanted to capture some similar flavors in my cacao nib cocktail. I added some sweet and nutty East India Solera Sherry, another new purchase, as well as a bit of Cointreau to enhance the orange flavor. Finally, to blend it all together and amp up the cacao flavor, I included a dash of El Guapo Spiced Cocoa Tea bitters.
I really like this cocktail. The aroma is lovely: raisins, chocolate, and orange. It has flavors of bright citrus and rich sherry, with a hint of bitterness and deep dark chocolate notes. The orange flavor is the most intense, whereas the chocolate is a more subtle background note that really comes through at the end of your sip. This is exactly why I love Mixology Monday - I never would have come up with this combination otherwise.
Check back here for the roundup of everyone's chocolate cocktails! I hope to post it in a week, but I'll be doing some fieldwork in Texas until the end of the month, and I'm not sure what the internet situation will be. So don't be concerned if there's radio silence from me on the blog and social media. (Unless it lasts into February - then send a search party.) I can't wait to see what everyone else comes up with!
Syracuse1 1/2 oz. cacao-nib infused rum (I used Rhum Clement)*
3/4 oz. East India Solera Sherry
1/2 oz. Ramazzotti
1/4 oz. Cointreau
1 dash El Guapo Spiced Cocoa Tea bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass with one large ice cube. Garnish with an orange twist.
*To infuse rum with cacao nibs, combine 1/2 tsp. of cacao nibs per 2 ounces of rum in a jar or bottle. Seal it and let it sit overnight, stirring or shaking occasionally. Strain out the cacao nibs.
Cacao nib infusion adapted from Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails.