How to make a flippin’ great chocolate cocktail

By / Wine + Drinks / January 3rd, 2018 / 6

If you were of legal drinking age and hanging out in cocktail bars a decade or two ago, you may recall a drink known as the Chocolate Martini. Unfortunately, despite its promising name, it didn’t taste much like a martini — nor chocolate. It was just vodka and syrupy crème de cacao.

“That hearkens back to the ’90s, a very sad, broken era in our history of bartending when cocktails weren’t made with ultra-fresh components,” says Joel Carleton, head mixologist at a Winnipeg bar consultancy Bee’s Knees Bar Services. “At that time, ideas of balance and palate engagement had been completely lost and, although a bunch of sugar in a glass perhaps tastes delicious at first, there’s no endurance there.”

But the chocolate cocktail category can be rehabilitated and brought back to life, says Carleton. It just has to be rebuilt and reimagined with ingredients and techniques that are more in line with contemporary cocktail culture. For Carleton, the obvious choice was to try it in a “flip,” a category of cocktails that fell out of fashion in the 20th century but which is currently experiencing a revival.

“It’s a pretty straightforward family of cocktails that contain a whole egg and warm spices and bold spirits — it was kind of the first eggnog,” says Carleton. “We used Crown Royal as the base spirit and added a bittersweet Amaro and Scrappy’s chocolate bitters, so all those things came together to give it hints of café and chocolate.”

No surprise, really, since flips are an amazing tool for balancing cocktails with even the most difficult ingredients — spiced, bitter, potent and sweet ingredients are somehow always pulled together and rounded off by the miraculous power of egg. Carleton wanted to take it up and notch, though, and added a little smoke to the drink — in part, because he wanted to play with barrel stave shavings from the local whisky distillery, Crown Royal. The final result is a sturdy, yet silky and indulgent, perfectly balanced chocolate cocktail.

Exactly what you need for your holiday celebrations, since this crowd-pleaser is sure to win over anyone who likes chocolate and cocktails. Which, last we checked, is pretty much everyone.

Smoked Chocolate Flip

If you don’t have a PolyScience or Breville smoking gun, try this drink without the smoke component; it’s still a great drink.

1 oz Crown Royal
1/2 oz Averna Amaro
1/2 oz slow-cooked maple-spiced cordial*
2 dashes Scrappy’s chocolate bitters
1/2 oz heavy cream
1 whole egg
Garnish: Grated nutmeg, cinnamon and dark chocolate shavings

In a glass decanter, batch together the whisky, amaro and cordial. Use a smoking gun to pump smoke into the decanter and swirl about to infuse the liquid with smoke. Pour the contents into a shaker tin. Add the cream and egg. Shake hard with ice and double strain into a coupe. Grate whole nutmeg and cinnamon overtop for aroma, and take a peeler to a block of dark chocolate to create shavings.

*Slow-cooked, maple-spiced cordial: Take one quart premium Canadian maple syrup, one quart water and a handful of nutmeg pieces, a couple cinnamon sticks and green cardamom pods and throw it all into a slow cooker for 4 to 6 hours.


Christine Sismondo is a National Magazine Award-Winning drinks columnist and the author of Mondo Cocktail: A Shaken and Stirred History as well as America Walks into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops.

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