Easter is a holiday celebrated with bunnies, painting eggs and of course chocolaty goodness in oval-shaped form! However have you ever thought about using chocolate in your cocktails? We caught up with one of London’s trendiest venues, the Riding House Café, to find out more about how they make chocolaty cocktail treats for their customers.
‘Choctails’ were one of 2016’s biggest trends, with many consumer’s craving for sweet treats now extending beyond dessert and into drinks. In recent years, cocktail ingredients have gone beyond the bounds of traditional fruit and herb components to savory, spicy and other varied ingredients in an attempt to delight and explore the palate.
Chris Hutchinson is Bar Manager at The Riding House Café in London and he has been using chocolate in his cocktails for years. He explains to us why he thinks the scope for chocolate-infused drinks was huge for 2016.
“Chocolate in cocktails naturally appeals to the curious consumer eager to try new experiences every time they walk into a bar. We knew that standard cocktails with regular components were widely available and hence we needed to think outside the box in terms of bringing new flavor components to our drinks menu. I love using chocolate, I think it is versatile, easy to use and boasts a depth of flavors which can add real "wow factor" to drinks.
The challenges of using chocolate in cocktails are the same as any other fresh produce. You need to ensure it remains fresh throughout service and create new sauces and shavings throughout the evening. Ensure you store the chocolate correctly and make sure it is easily accessible if it's something you plan to use regularly through a shift. One top tip is keep it out of reach of grazing bartenders! It’s honestly one of the greatest challenges when working with chocolate!
One of the main reasons we introduced chocolate into our drinks is that when a customer sees a familiar flavor like chocolate on the menu, they are more inclined to choose it, even if they aren’t as familiar with some of the other components in the drink. This little bit of knowledge on flavour makes guests much more likely to explore outside their comfort zone and try something they haven’t tried before. I know many guests who would never touch Whisk(e)y, but when they see chocolate on the menu they suddenly have a little more courage!”
Want to integrate chocolate into your cocktails? Try these recipe ideas from Chris at the Riding House Café and learn his top tips as to when to serve them.
This is great afternoon, early evening drink. We recommend serving it with an afternoon tea or a light bite like a cake or scone. The Tabasco and orange flavors work really well with anything sweet.
1.5 oz. Blood orange infused JOHNNIE WALKER RED LABEL
.25 oz. peated scotch whisky
.75 oz. beetroot juice
.5 oz. lime juice
.25 oz. chocolate sauce
1 Dash of Tabasco
Pinch of salt
1 Egg white
METHOD: Add all the ingredients into a shaker. Shake with ice and double strain, serve straight up.
LIVIN' ON A PRAYER
This is the perfect cocktail to recommend to them after a meal. The strong flavor profile is well suited to cut through a post-dinner meal. If guests are looking for something to enjoy the cocktail with I would suggest pairing with a strong blue cheese or a rich toffee dessert to bring out the flavors.
As previously mentioned, guests can be reluctant to try certain spirits they feel uncomfortable with, therefore this serve is the perfect way to encourage them to try something new while also giving them some familiarity with the chocolate.
1.5 oz. JOHNNIE WALKER Red Label
.75 oz. Red vermouth
2 Dashes of chocolate bitters
METHOD: Stir with ice and strain into a martini glass. Served with an orange twist garnish.
THE FUTURE OF THE CHOCTAIL
And what does the future hold for chocolate and the cocktail world?
“I think the demand for chocolate drinks has the potential to explode in coming years. It has already been tipped as one of the top trends for 2016 and my prediction is that we can expect to see many more bars thinking inside the chocolate box and incorporating chocolates in future concoctions! To anyone still in doubt as to why they should start seriously thinking of chocolate let me remind you of two key reasons. Firstly, it is a great way to ease customers into new spirit ranges they perhaps haven’t dabbled in before. Secondly, the curious consumer always needs to be pleased and this is a great way to delight the 21st century guest. My expectations are for choctails to venture beyond the afternoon early/evening drink service and become a more regular feature in late-night venue drink lists.”
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