Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and certainly a lot of couples are thinking of making the days extra special for their partners. Personally, some of my most favourite gifts for Valentine’s — or really any occasion — have been chocolates. Understandably, many would consider these to be a bit of a cliché, and rightly so. But the heart wants what the heart wants. However, chocolate doesn’t necessarily have to be consumed in a solid shape, brought impersonally in branded wrapper. There’s a perfect, boozy solution for chocolate alternatives in the month of love. Think: surprising your date with a romantic dinner and some amazing chocolate cocktails for dessert.
While most of us think of only kahlua or rum when we think of sweet cocktails — or at most an adventurous martini recipe — a number of other liquors perfectly complement the chocolaty goodness. Take whiskey for instance. The bold Irish drink it with their coffee and tea. You can also create a hot chocolate concoction with whiskey, chocolate syrup, milk, cream, honey, and sugar syrup. Garnish the mix with some graham crackers and you have a winner, not just for Valentine’s Day but also to beat the chill that still seems to be lingering around.
A highly underrated spirit, in my opinion, is Pisco, a South American brandy that tastes heavenly when paired with some Latin dulche de leche, created by slowly heating sweetened milk to a thick chocolaty consistency. The thickened concoction adds just the right level of sweetness to a hot chocolate brew. Add in some whipped cream along with some chocolate shavings, and you have the perfect drink to sip on while curled up on the sofa with a movie on, for the perfect conclusion of a dinner date in.
Chocolate and wine too is a match made in heaven. Therefore, it hardly comes as a surprise that when you mix the two, the effect is just as delicious. Some dry red wine can be paired with your usual mug of hot chocolate for amazing results. For the health-conscious, and environment lovers, who stick to vegan dishes, hot chocolate is still a luxury that you can try out, if you just replace regular milk with almond milk. If you want to add a bit of a kick to it, the way to go is bourbon and dark chocolate, with some maple syrup to balance out the bitter aftertaste of the first two elements.
While a pumpkin spiced latte with a dash of Kahlua or a chocolate martini are safe bets for those with a sweet tooth, I personally prefer to mix things up a bit. Recipes using different liquors and chocolate are definitely potent, it’s best not to overdo on the sweet syrups. Darker varieties or chocolate are a better deal, especially if you’re designing a concoction for the first time, and you can always balance it out with a hefty dose of liquor. If you want to conduct your own experiments, a good idea would be trying out mixtures with bourbon and other whiskeys.
— Luna is a mixologist