If there’s a more fun and delicious activity than pairing chocolate with cocktails, we’re yet to discover it! When you find a perfect match, it has the potential to elevate the flavours of both the chocolate and cocktail, creating a new taste experience that’s greater than the sum of its parts. We highly recommend you try this out with friends, colleagues or family, so here’s a little guide to help you organise a tasting…
Chocolate & Cocktail Tasting
Be prepared. Before your thirsty friends arrive, make sure you’ve got all your cocktail ingredients (or pre-prepared cocktails), glassware and chocolate ready. You might want to print out our Chocolate Flavour Wheel and tasting notes to help people understand what they’re tasting, and a pen and paper is useful for making notes.
Before you jump into tasting, take a moment to study what you’re about to enjoy. Use your five senses. Look at the colours, check the shine of the chocolate, read the packaging and learn about the ingredients. Next, listen to the way the chocolate snaps. Lastly, have a good smell of both the chocolate and cocktail - this will prepare your palate for the oncoming experience.
Alcohol can overpower the subtleties of fine chocolate, so you want to space out the tasting, get to know each first - don’t just put everything in your mouth at the same time. Start with the chocolate - put a piece on your tongue and move it around your mouth as it melts. Concentrate on how the flavour develops over time - we call this the flavour journey. Take it slowly and savour every moment.
When your chocolate is all gone and you’re revelling in the aftertaste, have a sip of the cocktail and notice how the flavours mingle. If it’s a successful pairing, there should be a beautiful harmony of aromas, tastes and textures. (If it’s not a successful pairing, the flavours might clash or neutralise each other, but this is all part of the fun, and exploration of flavour, seeking those perfect pairings.)
Next, have another taste of chocolate and notice how the cocktail’s aftertaste changes your perception of it. It’s amazing how much the flavour of the second bite can change from the first. Now you’re free to go back and forth between the two, until you run out!
Chocolate Pairing Tips
There’s a perfect chocolate for every cocktail, but finding the right match can take a while. It’s all about trial and error - enjoy the process, keep an open mind, and remember that there’s no right or wrong, just fun or not fun.
When you’re first starting out, a good idea is to match colour and lightness. Light coloured cocktails tend to go better with white or milk chocolates, whereas darker cocktails tend to work best with dark chocolate. There are lots of exceptions to this rule, but it’s a good place to start.
As mentioned previously, the nuance of single origin chocolate can be dominated by cocktails, so it’s best to focus on flavoured bars at the beginning. Think of pairing a bit like cooking - if flavours work together in a meal, they’ll probably work together in a pairing. So if orange and mint taste good together in a salad, orange chocolate will probably pair well with a mojito.
Bitter drinks - like some gins, vermouths or herbal digestifs - can be difficult to pair with. It’s definitely not impossible, but the sweeter the cocktail, the easier it will be to find an appropriate chocolate.
Our Chocolate and Cocktail Suggestions
There are so many styles of cocktails and chocolates that the possibilities for pairing are endless. Here are a few tried-and-tested combinations that we love…
Negroni with citrus dark chocolate
Specific bar - Bonajuto Mandarin
Old Fashioned with fruity single origin dark chocolate
Specific bar - Soma Bejofo, Madagascar 70%
Manhattan with dark chocolate with berries or cherries
Specific bar - Omnom Dark Nibs & Raspberry
Margarita with spiced dark chocolate
Specific bar - Akessons Madagascar 75% & Pink Pepper
Espresso Martini with Gianduja
Specific bar - Autore Hazelnut Gianduja
Gimlet with classic white chocolate
Specific bar - Cuvée Bianco
So what are you waiting for? Start planning your own cocktail and chocolate tasting today! And be sure to get in touch if you have any questions - we’re always happy to chat chocolate!
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