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By: Jim Wrigley

Raising the bar: If chocolate be the drink of love

Raising the bar: If chocolate be the drink of love

February is here, and with it, we see the back of Dry January, Veganuary, No-Funuary or whatever else you triumphantly call what you gave up for a whole month (or for about three days).
Feb’s fab though, especially in the Cayman Islands where it’s not freezing cold, because it brings not just Margarita Day on the 22nd, but also the greatest excuse for quaffing loads of chocolate and booze since, well, Christmas.

I’m talking of course about Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re in a committed relationship, single and loving it or anywhere in between, this celebration brings Champagne, strawberries and, of course, chocolate in many forms. When we bartenders get our hands on it, it brings chocolate cocktails.

Chocolate itself in its current format is a relatively modern invention. Cacao, from which all real chocolate is produced, has its origins in the spiced drinks (often alcoholic) laced with pepper, chilli and herbs that were given to warriors and sacrifices throughout meso-America in the Aztec and Incan tradition.

When the conquistadors and other invaders encountered this drink they remarked that it was unpalatable due to the bitterness.
Once the bitter seed pods had been imported to the Old World, it took a back seat to coffee and tea, until a process called conching was invented in the 1800s, which allowed for a rich cacao “butter” to be extracted and subsequently mixed with sugar and milk or cream — giving us the delicious delectables we now designate as chocolate.

These new “eating” chocolates were marketed in boxes as a delicacy with aphrodisiac qualities. This use for chocolate dates back to the Aztecs, with emperor Montezuma — for whom a luxury brand of chocolate made in the United Kingdom is named — using it to heighten his sexual experiences.

So how do we drink it? Well, at Coccoloba we have the cleverly named "Choccoloba" cocktail, which combines cacao-nib infused Absolut vodka, strawberry, chocolate, cacao liqueur, Chambord black raspberry liqueur and the chef’s homemade dulce de leche caramel, blended and topped with, that’s right you guessed it ‒ cocoa dust.

Or more simply, pour a glass of a delicious sipping rum and nibble some ridiculously complex and probably not inexpensive chocolate as you do. I suggest trying Santa Teresa 1796 rum, which is aged up to 35 years in bourbon and cognac barrels. It contains no added sugar, so it balances any sugar in the chocolate, and comes from Venezuela, home of some of the world’s best cacao trees.

Jim Wrigley is the beverage manager at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa.

This article appears in the February 2022 print edition of the Camana Bay Times.

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