It is time once again for Mixology Monday, the online monthly cocktail party. This month, the theme of “Aww, Nuts!” comes to us courtesy of Elana at Stir and Strain. As she describes it:
Nuts? Yes! A few months back I tried, and was wowed by, a peanut-y take on an Old Fashioned at a bar here in L.A. They had infused peanuts in bourbon and with a touch of honey had made magic. Nuts of all sorts make it into cocktails now. Some black walnut bitters here, the sweet almond flavor of orgeat there… circus peanuts. Your challenge is to utilize nuts (and since we’re NOT adhering to the strict rules of what are nuts, peanuts and walnuts both count) in any way you see fit to create a cocktail. Infusions, bitters, almond tinctures are all game. Amaretto, homemade nocino, Frangelico too. Go nuts! (…sorry)
In planning my Mixology Monday adventures this month, I took to hart the idea that MxMO is supposed to be about creativity and pushing our boundaries. I have gone into a realm of cocktails I don’t often visit. I am working with an archetype not generally respected in cocktail geek realms. I am revisiting the chocolate “martini.”
My first goal was to acquire Nocello as I did not have time to make my own. To be honest, I wasn’t really feeling like I wanted to deal with walnuts staining my hands and the kitchen left and right in any event. Once I knew I could get my hands on some Nocello, I started turning to other ways to up the nut factor. Eventually, I realized that I had Nutella in my pantry. If you are not familiar, Nutella is a hazelnut and cocoa flavored spread that has a bit of an obsessive following. Maybe, just maybe, I could look at nuts as a way to save the chocolate “martini” this month. In pondering how to make this an approachable drink, I hit on the ideas of a Vesper where the vodka is used to give some room to the gin and lillet allowing them to better come together without being too overpowering. Chocolate “martini” and vodka … very much outside of my comfort zone. I will even use a nomenclature I usually refuse – adding “-tini” to the end of a drink without vermouth.
*The Chocolate Hazelnut sauce is made of three parts Nutella, 2 parts Bourbon, 1 part Bauchant (cognac based orange liqueur). These were combined in a saucepan over low to medium-low heat and stirred constantly until combined into a nice little sauce. This would also be wonderful drizzled over ice cream, shortcake, or both. I had to make something from scratch this month.
- 15ml Nocello
- 7.5ml Vodka
- 7.5ml Chocolate Hazelnut sauce*
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker 2/3 full of ice. Shake vigorously to incorporate the chocolate hazelnut liqueur.
Strain into a cocktail glass garnished with a half rim of crushed peanuts and dark chocolate bits. Wet the rim of the glass with a little of the Nutella liqueur so the garnish will hold on to something. In retrospect, I needed to thicken it up a bit more to stop it from drooping as much. Melted chocolate next time.
How did it turn out? Well, my lovely wife gave it a taste and said it was like a drink that would have mass appeal. For me, this is a rarity!
It was certainly on the sweet side, which is not my usual, but the nuttiness was more prominent than the chocolate on the finish and it certainly was indulgent as a potential dessert unto itself. Since it is more Nocello than vodka it has the added benefit of being less alcoholic. It was described as a nutty adult chocolate milk. You know what? I’ll take it! The only thing I might change the next time I try this, besides the garnish note above, is adding a few drops of a chocolate bitters.
A big thanks to Elana for hosting this month, Fred for herding this collection of cats, and Paul for starting the whole ball rolling.