While some may prefer finishing a meal with a sweet bite and others may desire a dessert cocktail, chocolate martinis present an opportunity to combine both these tastes into one perfect glass.
Drinking your dessert has never felt quite as elegant as when it’s boozy chocolate in a martini glass. But how did this cocktail come to be?
Legend has it that one evening in 1955 during the filming of the Hollywood classic film Giant in Marfa, Texas, movie icons Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor decided to combine their shared love of chocolate and martinis.
“They added chocolate liqueur and chocolate syrup to a vodka martini and invented the chocolate martini,” said Anthony Caporale, Director of Spirits Education at the Institute of Culinary Education.
While Caporale doesn’t doubt the story, he thinks those events likely played out on many evenings among friends across the country, or perhaps even the world. Not to mention solo chocolate-and-martini enthusiasts, creative bartenders, or just people who found themselves with a bottle of vodka and the ubiquitous 1950’s drink flavoring that was chocolate syrup. “What I doubt is the invented part!” said Caporale.
In fact, we have a very long history of combining chocolate and alcohol. “There is evidence of villages in Honduras fermenting cocoa beans as early as 1400 BC,” said Joy Beber, founder of Joy, a southern cafe based in Atlanta. Chances are, though, those early cocktails weren’t served in a chilled martini glass!
Still, the concept was always there. “Saying somebody invented adding chocolate syrup to chilled vodka seems a bit like claiming somebody invented dipping French fries in a milkshake,” said Caporale. “it’s fairly obvious and I suspect that both ideas occurred to lots of people independently,” said Caporale who shared he’s lost count of the bartenders he’s worked with that reached for some form of chocolate when they were creating all manner of drinks, and how many times those creations were nearly (or precisely) identical to a drink he had before.
Such is the nature of progress. “I’m skeptical that we wouldn’t be enjoying chocolate martinis had Giant never been filmed,” said Caporale. However, the famous duo helped to popularize the drink (if chocolate drinks needed further popularizing) and certainly added glamour and a sense of stylishness to what might otherwise be seen as a less-than-legitimate drink choice.
However they got there, chocolate martinis have been a staple of many bar menus for decades and are a perennial favorite with guests. “They are emblematic of the modern martini, that is, drinks defined by the glass rather than the recipe to capitalize on the fact that most martini drinkers today want the cool stemware above all,” said Caporale.
Purists wouldn’t consider them to be martinis in any sense. “While it’s true that chocolate martinis don’t share any DNA with Jerry Thomas’ ancestral masterwork, I’d venture that most drinkers have at least taken a sip on the sly and found some merit in the glass,” said Caporale.
So whether they are your go-to libation or a once-in-a-blue-moon treat, find a recipe that intrigues you (there are hundreds out there), relax a bit, and enjoy the ultimate in adult dessert drinks. Here’s a recipe Caporale says to try.
Chocolate Overload Martini
In a mixing tin with ice, add:
- 1 oz. Stoli Vanil Vodka
- 1 oz. Godiva Liqueur
- 1 oz. Godiva White Liqueur
- ½ oz. Dark Crème de Cacao
- ½ oz. White Crème de Cacao
Shake until the tin is frosted and strain into a martini glass drizzled with chocolate syrup.
However, other experts have their own way of doing chocolate martinis that are just as delicious. At Le Majestic Hotel in Cannes, chocolate martinis are most often enjoyed after dinner. “For a simple Chocolate Martini, we use a premium vodka such as Absolut Elyx or Grey Goose, Mozart Chocolate Liqueur and a chocolate cream made in-house by our Pastry Chef to sweeten,” said Emanuele Balestra, Hôtel Barrière Bars Director.
Each chocolate martini is garnished with a hand-made Barriere chocolate disc on top to ensure the experience of French decadence the property is known for. “I have a passion for this dessert-inspired style of drink and previously created a concept called ‘Bartisserie’ with cocktails inspired by patisserie favorites and deconstructed desserts,” said Balestra. This includes a chocolate martini variation – the Tiramisu cocktail, made with a coffee-cream emulsion, Kahlua Chocolate Liqueur, Mozart Chocolate Liqueur, a touch of Disaronno Amaretto, and of course the signature Barriere chocolate disc.
However you enjoy your chocolate martini, it’s going to be a perfect finishing touch on a great evening.
Tip: One of the few things chocolate martinis have in common with classic martinis is that (in Caporale’s opinion) both will benefit from vigorous shaking. “Unless the recipe calls for cream or other dairy, you can’t over shake a chocolate martini,” said Caporale. If dairy is involved, vigorously shake all the non-dairy ingredients first, then add the dairy and gently stir to further chill and incorporate.