I am so lucky that I am able to do something I love for a living, but let’s face it my job is pretty weird. The other day I was creating a pairing menu for the opening party of a high end chocolate shop. I’m sitting at my dining room table with chocolate samples and open bottles of wine, beer, and spirits, and a note pad for me to feverishly write down tasting notes. I sort of had one of those out of body moments and thought, “Wait, this is my life?” It was amazing. The reason I bring up this experience is because I learned a very great lesson during this pairing exercise: gin and chocolate are soul mates. No truly, gin and chocolate were separated by the gods only to be brought back together by the diabolical craftiness of certain humans so that they may live in harmony for the rest of the ages. One of the great bonuses about this job is when you are able to take someone out of their comfort zone and they are rewarded with something delicious, and a new experience. One of the owners of the shop even said during the presentation, “Who would have thought I’d be eating chocolate and sipping on gin, and liking it?” I certainly would not have thought that but it works! A nice quality dark chocolate with its rich bitter notes is perfect with the spicy botanicals of gin. And the fact that I used a bourbon barrel aged gin, Fuhgeddaboudit. I posted a photo of said chocolate pairings, and I had a chef friend comment on the post with: Make gin hot chocolate and thank me later. EUREKKA! Let’s all thank him, because gin hot chocolate will become a new holiday tradition. I stand by that statement! What holiday season would be complete without hot cocoa? That’s like going the whole holiday season without quoting the movie Elf. That is the great thing about when you taste something new and exciting, you can’t wait to share it with other people. So for today’s cocktail, I share with you a delightfully spiced gin hot chocolate.
DAY 4: GIN FTW HOT COCOA
Garnish: whipped cream and orange zest
1 ½ oz Watershed Bourbon Barrel Aged Gin
5 oz spiced hot cocoa
METHOD: Add gin to a mug and pour hot cocoa over top. Garnish. Sip away at awesomeness.
SPICED HOT COCOA
8 cups of milk
10 bags chai tea
Peel of 2 oranges
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ cups dark chocolate chips
Pinch of salt
METHOD: In a large pot over medium heat add milk, tea bags and orange peel. Bring milk up to a gentle simmer, making sure to stir occasionally so that it doesn’t burn on the bottom. Lower heat and steep tea for 30 minutes. Remove tea bags, making sure to squeeze each bag to get out every bit of spicy goodness. You can store this milk in the fridge and pull out when ready to make your hot chocolate. Add milk to a large pot over medium high heat, add cocoa powder, and whisk until dissolved. Add chocolate chips. Continue to whisk mixture until all the chocolate chips have melted. Bring up to a slow boil. Lower heat and pour hot chocolate into a thermos, and serve.
WITH A TWIST: I don’t blame you if you aren’t into the whole gin and chocolate thing. There are just some people who have had a rocky past with gin, and who am I to make things awkward? Feel free to swap the gin out with bourbon or rye. I’m also a big fan of Grand Marnier in my hot cocoa.
PARTY TIP: You can make the spiced milk ahead of time and keep in your fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat and add chocolate when you’re ready to serve. Invest in a thermos to keep drinks warm. You will be surprised by how much you will actually use it. Set up a hot chocolate station at your party with whipped cream, marshmallows and different bottles of booze so guests can construct their hot chocolate to their liking, and bonus you don’t have to spend your party making cocktails. Efficient and clever!
GIFT IDEA: You can create this as a neat gift for the holidays by constructing the ingredients for the hot chocolate in a mason jar. Cut the recipe above in half and in a pint mason jar add chocolate chips, place a small piece of parchment on top then add cocoa powder. Place another small piece of parchment or wax paper on top of the cocoa powder, then add the tea bags on top. Secure lid on mason jar and decorate with burlap or other fabric and ribbon. Write down the recipe and tie it to mason jar. All they have to add is the milk and orange peel. Make it a complete gift and add a bottle of booze or jar or marshmallows.
Cheers, and here is to a delicious and weird life.
Your neighborhood bar geek,