How to Mix Spirits & Chocolate

Tasting notes for pairing chocolate with your cocktails

During the next few days, it’s going to happen: You’ll be faced with an open bar as well as a selection of decadent chocolates and holiday confections. Which treat do you choose? We say have them both together. In this case, you really can have your cake and eat it, too.

A couple of months ago, we asked all-star bartender and advisory board member Jacques Bezuidenhout to pair whiskies from around the world with chocolates. And he found many delicious combinations. But how about matching sweets with other spirits?

Fearing for the health of Bezuidenhout’s teeth, we decided to ask another Jacques for help: famed pastry chef Jacques Torres, a.k.a. Mr. Chocolate. In addition to running his eponymous New York stores, he is also dean of pastry arts at the International Culinary Center (founded as the French Culinary Institute).

The first piece of advice he gave to us is that you don’t want “the flavors fighting each other.” It sounds simple, but remember that the origin of the bean and the percentage of cacao can dramatically affect a chocolate’s taste and what types of liquor you should pair it with.

So check out Torres’ tips and make your holidays spirited and sweet!


Torres admits that “Cognac is a tough one.” To allow its subtle complexity to come through, he recommends a mild milk chocolate. “Sometimes you let one win.”


When you enjoy a glass of Grand Marnier or a citrusy tipple, Torres suggests a relatively mild chocolate created from African beans that has about 60 percent cacao.


With “tequila you have to be a little more careful,” Torres says. The alcohol’s rich agave flavor goes perfectly with a chocolate that has a high cacao percentage (around 80 percent) and is made with spicy beans from Mexico. “Pair the terroir,” he says.


If you’re drinking a fruity concoction or a flavored vodka neat, you need a chocolate with some fruity notes of its own, like, Torres says, one calling for Venezuelan beans.


“Dark rum usually works very well with chocolates,” Torres says. In particular, he advises serving milk chocolate with hazelnuts, since it complements the spirit’s caramel flavors.

This story was originally published at How to Mix: Spirits and Chocolate. For more stories like this, subscribe to for the best in all things cocktails and spirits. 

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