Co Co. Sala has dubbed its lineup of winter cocktails “heavenly hot elixirs,” but “sinful” is perhaps a more apt way to describe the sensory pleasures elicited by the drinks at this Penn Quarter chocolate lounge. In coming up with the cocktails—which combine artisanal chocolates with liqueurs, cognacs, and rums—co-owner Nisha Sidhu drew from her knowledge of flavor profiles. The Apollo, for example, plays on the chocolate-and-orange pairing by mixing Valrhona dark chocolate with Grand Marnier, a liqueur distilled from bitter orange. Before combining the liquids, however, the dark chocolate is first made into a ganache then steamed into hot chocolate.
Check out Sidhu’s demonstration below, and make sure to get the recipe—as well as browse the restaurant’s full winter-cocktail menu—after the jump.
Nisha Sidhu, Co Co. Sala
6 ounces dark hot chocolate (see directions below)
½ ounce Grand Marnier
¾ ounce Courvoisier
Whipped cream to taste
Candied orange zest dipped in dark chocolate (see recipe below)
Prepare your hot dark chocolate. It’s important to use the highest-quality dark chocolate available. Co Co. Sala uses 72-percent couverture Valrhona dark chocolate and combines it with cream to create a thick, creamy mixture. When making your hot chocolate, whisk the chocolate and the liquid (milk, water, or cream) to create an emulsion by adding the liquid gradually. Pour the Grand Marnier and Courvoisier into a mug, then add the hot chocolate. Top the drink with whipped cream. Garnish with candied orange and dark-chocolate shavings.
Candied Oranges Dipped in Dark Chocolate
1½ cups water
½ cup sugar
Peels of 2 navel oranges, cut into 2-inch-by-¼-inch batons (Using a sharp paring knife, mark the oranges in quarters and peel the rind. Avoid using the white pith, and cut the quartered peel into batons.)
In a small pan, bring about 2 cups of water to a boil and add the cut orange batons. Cook for two minutes to remove the rind’s bitterness, then rinse the orange pieces with cold water. Repeat this process if the rind is still bitter. In a medium skillet, combine the 1½ cups water and sugar. Bring this mixture to a boil. Add the orange batons and cook over moderate heat, turning the batons occasionally until the liquid is reduced to a thin syrup and the orange batons are translucent, approximately 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the syrup is thick and the slices are tender, approximately 10 minutes. Remove and let the candies cool for 24 hours at room temperature. Dip half of the candied orange baton in melted dark chocolate, let cool, and use as a garnish.
Heavenly Hot Elixers
Dark chocolate, Grand Marnier, Courvoisier, crystallized zest
Milk chocolate, Captain Morgan spiced rum, house caramel
Dark chocolate, Rumplemintz liqueur, fresh mint, sugar
White chocolate, St-Germain elderflower liquor
Milk chocolate, Amaretto, Patron XO café