It’s nearly Easter! And while the Easter bunny is busy laying chocolate eggs (that’s right, isn’t it?), we’ve been trying out chocolate and booze pairings. And not just pairings, it turns out you can put your booze in your chocolate – or your chocolate in your booze.
From cocktails to Port, whisky to gin, there is a chocolate for just about every type of drink. And a drink for every type of chocolate.
To get started, I caught up with the man who makes those famous Lindt bunnies, Lindt master chocolatier Stefan Bruderer. Or so I like to think. “An important point is the tasting order,” he says, “always have the chocolate first.”
Wise words for any chocolate lover but there’s also some science to it. The temperature in our mouths is usually around 36°C, which is the perfect temperature to melt chocolate. “If you have a cold drink, between 5-8°C, the temperature in your mouth will drop down for a moment. The result is that the chocolate will not melt as it should,” he says.
Like any food and drink pairing (or episode of Married at First Sight), Bruderer reminds us that opposites attract. “This means I am looking at the drink for some flavours I can’t find in the chocolate and vice versa,” he says. “So that they somewhat complete each other.”
He offers an example: “If you have a white wine that is not too sweet but slightly sour, with some notes of fresh fruits like green apples, lime or grapefruit the perfect match could be Excellence Orange,” he explains, “because Excellence Orange has some sweetness, as it is ‘just’ a medium dark chocolate, and has notes of ripe orange. This means if you pair those two you will have the sour and fresh fruit notes from the white wine and the sweetness and the ripe fruit notes from the chocolate.”
In fact, the Lindt archives are stuffed full of great chocolate and drinks pairings and among my favourites is the Aperol Spritz – also with Excellence Orange – a marriage of sweet, smooth citrus with bold, bitter citrus. Or perhaps a Negroni with Lindt Excellence Sea Salt Dark Chocolate appeals? Bittersweet umami for the win.
I’m sure it comes as absolutely no surprise that port is a winner with chocolate.
Fonseca Bin 27 is a top tipple with truffles. So much so in fact, that it features as an ingredient in Vinte Vinte Port Wine Truffles. If you can’t get your hands on those, find yourself a good quality 70% cocoa truffle and let the experiment commence.
This ruby Port is bottled ready to drink and it brings bags of black fruit to the table, along with tobacco, a slightly herbaceous note, figs, raisins, chocolate and vanilla cream. The truffles round out the black fruit character, bringing more cream and chocolate to the party, until you end up with a black forest gateaux in your mouth. What’s not to like about that?
If Port’s not your bag, there’s a new whisky from Dewar’s that will work a treat with this kind of truffle – Dewar’s 8 year old Portuguese Smooth. The whisky is finished in, you guessed it, ruby port casks. With dark and red fruit on the nose, the palate offers smooth milk chocolate with poached pear and blackberries.
And for smoke fans, get yourself some Tony’s Chocolonely Dark Milk Pretzel Toffee and a bottle of Lagavulin. The dark chocolate and toffee squares up to the smoky notes, while the salt tang of the pretzel meets the slight salinity of the whisky.
What about white chocolate?
The folks at Hotel Chocolat have a strong suggestion for white chocolate, which again plays on that desire to balance out flavours.
“White chocolate is arguably the creamiest of the mainstream chocolate types and so it’s a good idea to pair it with a drink that balances out that sweet, cocoa-buttery charm,” their guide suggests. “We’d recommend pairing it with a chilled Provence rosé; the refreshing strawberry notes are pleasantly elevated by the creaminess of the white chocolate.”
If you haven’t quite got into rosé season, MoM recommends Whisky Works Glaswegian 29 Year Old. This richly creamy single grain Scotch whisky pairs excellently with the creaminess of a good white chocolate.
Can’t be bothered to pair chocolate and booze? Good news! There are several drinks for that, too. How about Jaffa Cake Gin, Rum or Vodka? And of course there is a Bourbon Bourbon for all you chocolate biscuit fans. The drink features Kentucky bourbon infused with genuine Bourbon biscuits, and blended with dark chocolate and vanilla to accentuate those familiar flavours. The producer, Master of Malt’s sister company Atom Labs, recommends trying it in an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan. Or, y’know, a glass.
If glasses aren’t ‘Easter’ enough and you want to be really decadent, you can bite the ears off a Lindt bunny and stick your Easter cocktail right inside. That’s what the folks at Cocktail Porter have done with an Espresso Martini: Ketel One Vodka, Cocktail Porter sugar syrup, Kuka cold brew coffee and Conker Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur shaken and poured right into the cavity.
Have your cocktail and eat it.
And for the gin lovers, the folks at Kintyre Gin have come up with the Easter Bunny Negroni:
Serve in a chilled Martini glass, rimmed with grated chocolate.
Bet you could serve that in a Lindt bunny, too.