Why Is It So Hard to Get Drunk on Chocolate?

Gimme a drink, not a fucking milk shake!

This column started out with a completely different mission: to find the best chocolate cocktail in town. I wanted to see if anyone was making an adult chocolate cocktail, not a soda-fountain creation. I failed in that mission—rather, the mission failed me. Apparently, anybody can put vanilla vodka and chocolate liqueur in a glass, garnish it with something asinine, and call it a day. Alas, I found many chocolate drinks, but all were too creamy and cloying or unbearably sweet. Godiva liqueur played the chocolate role in most of the desserts I sampled. It has a wonderful semisweet-chocolate flavor but suffers from an overly sweet finish, so it tastes like someone squeezed chocolate syrup into a bottle of amaretto. Not helping the cause was that most of Seattle's chocolate cocktails also made the mistake of using vodka as a base. Vodka adds nothing to a cocktail except alcohol and heat. Have you ever seen a vodka-filled chocolate? No. Instead, you've probably seen chocolates flavored with Grand Marnier, brandy, or whiskey. Similarly, to make a great chocolate cocktail, bartenders should start by invoking a brown spirit. Crestfallen and temporarily diabetic, I lamented the crap mixtures I was fed over and over; I wanted a real drink, not a fucking milk shake. So there I was, due date looming, with half a column left and nothing positive to say, when I looked down at the bottle of Lazy Boy beer I was sipping. The answer came to me: I had to make my own. Looking at that happy little fat guy on the label, his distended beer baby stamped with the word "porter," I realized that to get more chocolate flavor without adding more sugar, a good chocolate cocktail needed beer! So I headed up the street to West 5 (4539 California Ave. S.W.). This bar is a sleeper for great cocktails, as long as you order from the bartender instead of the drink menu. The barkeep reacted graciously to what must have sounded like an absurd request and agreed to be my test kitchen. I ordered a shot of equal parts stout and Godiva from him and asked him to sample it with me. The stout added a bittersweet quality to the Godiva's soft chocolate flavor, and the chocolate liqueur brought out the chocolate notes in the stout. Tasty liquid symbiosis. The question then became: What should join the party? As it does about seven times a day, my brain immediately thought of a Manhattan, a serious whiskey drink with a splash of sweet vermouth and bitters. Using the Godiva and stout to stand in for the vermouth, the West 5 barkeep and I conceived the perfect adult chocolate cocktail. Made with ingredients available at most bars and clubs, it's a riff on the Manhattan but tastes less sweet than its progenitor. I'll call it a Chocolate City: 1 ounce Godiva liqueur 1 ounce porter or stout 1 to 1.5 ounces bourbon, brandy, or whiskey 2 dashes Angostura bitters Optional mix-ins: A dash of Chambord adds the faint flavor of raspberry; Grand Marnier or a few drops of orange-flower water will lend the sweet note of orange zest. For a sweeter and more aromatic result, use Metaxa (Greek brandy) in place of the bourbon—or skip the bourbon altogether. For all the talk of Seattle's cocktail revolution, some categories of drinks seem to remain outside the trend. Four of the serious bartenders I asked for chocolate martinis rolled their eyes at me, and having tasted the lack of imagination in their drinks, I could see why. But like Ahab, I was undeterred, and with a little help I found my chocolate whale. mdutton@seattleweekly.com

 
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