As we get ready for New Years, I decided to prepare a unique concoction – a chocolate martini. Well, not just a chocolate martini, but one made from 100% organic ingredients. There are plenty of chocolate martini’s out there, but most are made with some sweet liqueur such as Creme de Cacao or Godiva Chocolate Liqueur. I have nothing against these drinks, but they are really more of a cocktail than a martini. A martini is inherently dry (and technically made from Gin, but we’re in the vodka camp here). So, how do you to make a chocolate martini that’s essentially void of sugar? It’s not hard, but will take a little preparation. Start about 3 days or more before New Years. Here’s what you’ll need:
- A bottle of high-quality organic vodka
- 1/2 cup organic cacao nibs
- A large clean bowl
- A funnel (not pictured)
- A cocktail shaker
- A cocktail strainer
- Some cheesecloth (not pictured)
- A sieve
- Organic cocoa powder for rimming (optional)
- Organic chocolate to shave as a garnish (recommended)
I used Crop Organic Artisanal Vodka simply because it was on sale ($25 before discount for 750mL). By itself it tastes clean up front with a smooth, round buttered-corn note on the finish. I’m not an expert on vodka, but this one seemed well above average. Other organic vodkas include Rain Vodka, Vodka 14, Organic Nation ON Vodka and TRU Vodka. Some might dispute the value of organic vodka, but many of these companies are also employing green business practices and organic farming is generally better for the earth. That’s enough to sway me.
For cacao nibs, I used Taza organic roasted nibs. Taza Chocolate roasts their nibs “low and slow” to preserve the natural fruity flavor of the bean. After using them for this recipe, I was delighted to find plenty left over in the can to mix into oatmeal or over ice cream. By the way, don’t use chocolate-coated nibs. They are great as a snack, but won’t work for this recipe.
Now, simply pour out about a half cup of vodka from the bottle and replace it with a half cup of nibs. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll realize quickly that the half cup of vodka that you poured out of the bottle now has no home. I sat and thought about this for a while until I started sipping away at it, still trying to find a solution to this storage problem, but coming up dry. Oh well, if you all have some ideas, please post it in the comments section. Now, back to the recipe. Let the mixture steep for 2-4 days shaking the bottle lightly once per day. I extracted the nibs for three days, but I believe two days should be adequate and after four days, you are probably reachng the point of diminishing returns. I tasted the nibs that came out of the bottle on Day 3, and they were almost tasteless with little left to give.
After three days, filter out the nibs by pouring the contents of the bottle through some cheese cloth placed inside a metal sieve. Collect the vodka in a very clean bowl. After rinsing out the bottle, return the contents to the bottle using a funnel. Now you will have some 100% organic chocolate vodka ready to mix. Mine turned out a nice amber-red color, but it will depend upon the nibs you use and how long they are extracted.
The 100% Organic Chocolate Martini
- 2 oz organic chocolate vodka (made using the recipe above)
- Organic cocoa powder for rimming (e.g. Dagoba Organic Sipping Chocolate)
OK, here’s the easy part. Lightly wet the rim of a chilled martini glass with water and run it through a pile of organic cocoa. I found it hard to get a nice uniform cocoa line on the rim, but decided I didn’t care. Shake the organic chocolate vodka in a cocktail shaker filled with ice until the outside feels super-cold. Strain into the glass and take a sip. Wait! Get any thoughts of sweetness out of your head before you raise the glass to your lips! This is a real dry martini and the chocolate flavor, really be more accurately described as a cocoa flavor, is an aquired taste. Unique, aromatic, somewhat pungent. Give it a few slow sips before passing judgement. If you still crave some sweetness, try this variation:
Orange Chocolate Martini:
- 2 oz. organic chocolate vodka (follow recipe above)
- 1/2 oz orange liqueur such as Cointreau. No more than 1/2 and ounce or you will overwhelm the cocoa.
I don’t know of any organic orange liquers, but if you do, let us know. Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker until the outside of the shaker is super-cold. Garnish with shavings of organic chocolate. I recommend going to the extreme of 100% raw chocolate from Pacari. A sweeter option would be Grenada Chocolate company’s 71% cacao bar. You can use a cheese grater to create the shavings, but don’t use a micro-zester.
From here let your creativity run away. If you want to go sweeter with the orange, OK, but keep in mind the chocolate flavor will start to get lost. What’s nice is the contrast of chocolate shavings agaist white, so you can try:
- 1 1/2 oz. organic chocolate vodka
- 1/2 oz. Kahlua
- 1 oz. Bailey’s
- Same as above, but with no Bailey’s
Where to buy the ingredients:
- Organic vodka – Rain and Crop are available nationally. The others maybe too, but I have not seen them as abundantly in my area.
- Taza organic roasted cacao nibs at NewLeaf Chocolates. – click here.
Cheers and happy holidays!
For more drink recipes using cacao-infused vodka, see this new post.
Notes: Some people doubt the value of “organic” when it comes to vodka since producers are simply starting with organic grain and, in the end, it might just be a marketing ploy. I have to admit that I have not researched this technically at all, but my simple assessment is that if there are residual pesticides in the grain or potatoes and they are volatile enough, then there is no reason why traces can’t make it through the whole process all the way past distillation and into the bottle. Arguably, distillation is a purification process and other steps are taken to purify vodka, but it doesn’t mean that all the bad stuff is gone. You might consider vodka to be bad stuff too, so let’s put it all in context. After all, if you drink too much vodka, too often, then you will have bigger problems than potential traces of pesticides.
Furthermore, if you focus only on the health issues for the consumer, you’re missing the full picture. Pesticides and other chemicals can be harmful for the environment and for the farm workers who apply them to the fields. For me, this is the strongest case for organic vodka. I made an organic vodka martini because I thought it would be fun, but I don’t know if it’s any better for my health than good old fashioned vodka. Either way, please drink responsibly.
 I paid for all ingredients myself.