We’ve been on a roll, Michael and I, teaming up to combine our respective loves of bourbon and chocolate. Upstairs in Hi Lo‘s loft, a quick turn ’round the block from Dandelion’s factory, we recently hosted our fourth event, tasting attendees through a lineup of 3 single-origin chocolates, first on their own and then paired with whiskey.
I get to share my love of the bean-to-bar chocolate making process and Michael Lazaar, the bar manager at Hog & Rocks, regales the crowd with the history of bourbon and the science of distillation. We’re hoping to make Chocolate Plus Bourbon a monthly tasting event that highlights the role of craft producers and explores pairings between each of our work-related passions.
I met Michael while perched at his bar in Hog & Rocks and our introduction quickly led to an impromptu chocolate and bourbon tasting. Once I reached into my purse for a foiled, broken bar, he reached up to the top shelf and taught me how to use a water dropper, a handy tool indeed. We found playing with the unique flavor combinations so much fun, we knew we had to recreate the experience for the public. We figured if we loved chocolate and bourbon, other people must, too.
We’ve had some great support from friends like Star St Germain, who designed a tasting mat and tasting notes to help refine the experience and took these pretty photos, and from Dandelion’s exec team. I have to thank them, and Michael and his expertise, for helping me share something I love with a wider audience and put a twist on it.
While every tasting’s been a little different, we’ve accumulated some crowd favorites. I think our Patanemo from Venezuela is a natural choice with classically caramel-tasting bourbons, such as Willett’s Family Reserve Wheated Whiskey, which brings out notes of maple in the otherwise nutty-tasting Patanemo.
We’ve found that Buffalo Trace Antique amplifies smoky flavors and we’ve had fun pairing it with Cumboto, another Venezuelan origin, and Papua New Guinea, made with naturally fire-dried beans. Madagascar, our fruitest-tasting chocolate, is a natural choice with Four Roses OSBO, a recipe that uses a high concentration of fruity-tasting yeast along with a high-rye mashbill to bring out complimentary citrus and spice flavors.
It’s easy to find interesting pairings when Michael sources the best single-barrel bourbons through the Hog & Rocks “Barrel to Bottle” program and I’m lucky enough to make extraordinary chocolate, sourced straight from farms and using only cacao and sugar. All in the same neighborhood.
Chocolate Plus Bourbon is tentatively scheduled for the second Saturday of every month, with the next event slated for August 10th. Tickets here.