A Christmas cocktail: Amsterdam Hot Chocolate


It’s a bit late to go shopping for ingredients today, but this drink will serve you well all winter long. It was inspired by a comment on my first post about working for Lucas Bols. Alison from Gastrologia wrote, “one of the best drinks I ever had, A’dam or elsewhere, was a cup of rich hot chocolate with genever and orange liqueur from a street vendor on a cold night.” Genever and hot chocolate? Sounds weird, but the maltiness of the genever works here. All I did was add a splash of Chartreuse, because chocolate and Chartreuse is an awesome pairing. We served this with the final course of our holiday brunch cocktail event at Irving Street Kitchen:

3/4 oz Bols Genever
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
1/4 oz Chartreuse
5-6 oz rich hot chocolate

Build in a mug and top with whipped cream if you’re feeling decadent.

[Photo provided by Allison Jones from the Portland food blog Lemon Basil.]


MxMo Brown, bitter, and stirred

After a brief hiatus, Mixology Monday is back! This month my friend Lindsey Johnson takes charge and orders something brown, bitter, and stirred. From MxMo founder Paul Clarke:

While punches, sours and flips are essential parts of every cocktail fiend’s drinking diet, perhaps no other style of drink is as dear to our booze-loving hearts as those potent mixtures of aged spirits, amari, aromatized wines and liqueurs, sometimes (sometimes? Almost always!) doctored with a dash or four from the bitters shelf.

This seems like a good occasion to post another cocktail from my session with David Shenaut and the producers of Ilegal Mezcal. Here’s the Mexican Train:

2 oz Ilegal reposado mezcal
3/4 oz Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
1/4 oz green Chartreuse
5 drops mole bitters

Stir, strain, and serve up in a chilled cocktail glass. This is a mezcal-driven variation on a Tipperary, tied together by one of my favorite pairings, Chartreuse and chocolate. The bitters are the housemade mole bitters from Beaker and Flask. Bittermen’s Xocolatl bitters would probably work nicely too, though without any mezcal on hand I can’t try out an exact recipe (hence the lack of photograph this month). Regardless, it’s an interesting drink to try out when a discerning brown, bitter, and stirred order comes across the bar.


MxMo Amaro: Menta e Cioccolato

Menta e Cioccolato

If I’m drinking at home alone on Sunday afternoon, it’s a good bet that the next day is Mixology Monday. And so it is! From Chuck Taggart:

The topic for this month is Amaro, which refers to the bitter liqueurs usually drunk as an after-meal digestive, either alone (neat or on the rocks) or in some kind of mixed drink or cocktail. They tend to all share certain characteristics — drinking bitters are generally made of alcohol with any number of herbs, plus sugar and some kind of coloring. The word “amaro” means bitter in Italian, and although the more famous drinking bitters tend to come from Italy our amaro theme this month is most certainly not limited to that country. Amaro, amer, amargo, what have you. Italy, Spain, France, America, Serbia, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland … wherever somebody drinks a bitter liqueur, that’s a source for your drink this month.

As a Pacific Northwest bartender it’s in my union contract that I must love Fernet-Branca, but for this MxMo I’m featuring Branca Menta, Fernet’s minty cousin. It’s sweeter than Fernet, but with the same intense medicinal taste and a sharp mint flavor and aroma.

This month’s cocktail, a simple mix of amaro and hot chocolate, is not at all seasonal for a day when even Portland is 80 degrees and sunny. So forget seasonality and make it anyway, save the recipe for next winter, or consider this a special post dedicated to readers in the southern hemisphere (Hi, Ellie!). Here’s what you need for Menta e Cioccolato:

1-1.5 oz Branca Menta
8 oz hot chocolate

Choose a quality chocolate that’s not too sweet. Heat with milk and pour into a warm mug with Branca Menta to taste. I usually make it just like that at home, but adorn with whipped cream and shaved dark chocolate as in the photo above for extra credit.

The idea for this drink came from enjoying hot chocolate with green Chartreuse, a delicious combination Lance Mayhew introduced me to during Portland’s great snow storm of ’08. That got me thinking about what other liqueurs would go well with hot chocolate. Branca Menta fit the bill perfectly and these two drinks were in frequent rotation at my apartment during the cold winter months.

Previously: Fernet-Branca appeared in my February MxMo cocktail, the Horatio.