Drink Recipe: “Hot Lips” Choco-Tini

Are you feeling the Valentine’s Day love? My favorite part of this drink is the garnish – a chocolate-dipped chile pepper!  Here’s the recipe, which is also a featured recipe on The Nest.  (P.S., for more V-day goodies, check out this NBC video segment on Valentine’s Day gift ideas, with Behind the Burner. Recognize that hot pink book cover?)

“Hot Lips” Choco-Tini


“Hot Lips” Choco-Tini

Yield: 1 drink

Adapted from “Spice & Ice – 60 tongue-tingling cocktails”

Break this one out for Valentine’s Day, or anytime you’re looking to please your favorite chocolate-lover. Forget chocolate-covered cherries – for a fine finish, serve the drink with a chocolate-dipped red chile pepper on the side!

1/2 red chile pepper, sliced

1 ounce Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate vodka

1 ounce Kahlua

1/2 ounce Luxardo Maraschino liqueur

Fresh cream


In a cocktail shaker, muddle the sliced chile pepper. Add the chocolate vodka, Kahlua, and Luxardo. Shake together with ice and strain into a small martini or pousse-café glass.

Gently pour cream over the back of a spoon to create a “float” on the top of the drink. Use a hand grater for a generous amount of chocolate shavings on the top of the drink.

 Optional garnish:

1 whole red chile pepper

1 oz. chocolate, melted

 Dip ¾ of chile pepper into melted chocolate. Set on wax paper and put in refrigerator until chocolate hardens. Cut a slit in the upper portion of the chile pepper so it will sit neatly on the rim of the glass.


Drink recipe: Rouge Noir

I’m heartened to see how the bar industry is pitching in to help benefit the crisis in Haiti. This morning I walked past Wildwood BBQ; they’ve created a special cocktail and 50% of all proceeds from the drink will go to help the earthquake victims in Haiti. Sunday night I’ll be headed to a “Hearts & Cocktails for Haiti” benefit at BAR*CELONA.  And while not strictly bar-related, dynamic food writer Ramin Ganeshram is organizing a Food 4 Haiti cookbook sale and food festival on Jan. 30 (I’ve donated a signed copy of Spice & Ice for auction, among the many, many other books that will be on offer.)

But the earthquake also potentially affects a spirits brand I was recently introduced to:  Combier’s Liqueur d’Orange and Royal Combier both are made with orange peels sourced from plantations throughout the island of Haiti.

So it makes sense to add Combier to the list of do-gooders: the company will donate 20% of all earnings from January 20 until March 1, 2010 to Doctors Without Borders – Emergency Relief Fund in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

With this in mind, I’m featuring a Valentine’s Day drink made with Combier Rouge, which the company describes as “light and fruity with hints of pepper and licorice.”  Although I didn’t detect much in the way of pepper when I tried the liqueur, it does have a  rich ruby color (it’s made with black cherries), and pleasing cordial-like sweetness balanced with a touch of bitter orange and spice.

Like Chartreuse and Benedictine, apparently Combier Rouge is another in the currently fashionable family of monk-made (or at least monk-invented) liqueurs. According to the press materials:  “The original composition for Rouge was first conceived in 1632 by the Reverend Mother Gautron of the Benedictine Abbey of Samur, and became so popular that it delighted the court of King Louis XIV.  True to tradition, it is still produced much like it was nearly 400 years ago.”

Rouge Noir Cocktail

Rouge Noir

1.5 oz Combier Rouge
.5 oz Combier Orange Liqueur
4 oz brut
1 Orange zest

Pour Combier’s Rouge and Orange Liqueur in champagne flute. Top with champagne. Garnish with 1 orange zest.

Drink Recipe: Heartbreaker Cocktail

we heart chile peppers

Is it too soon to be thinking about Valentine’s Day? It’s only six weeks away, and shop windows are switching over retail merch with alarming speed.

After all, I’ve got a book to promote with a hot-pink cover and the suggestive tag line “Hello, Hot Lips” on the back. If that doesn’t scream “Valentine’s Day impulse buy,” I don’t know what does.

Although I’ve got a “Hot Lips Choco-Tini” in the book, I’m working on creating some other fun V-Day cocktails with lip-tingling flavors and delightfully risque names. Here’s one I’m experimenting with now — I’d love to hear what you think. I’m considering making that last ingredient a pepper-infused simple syrup, and perhaps adding a splash of pomegranate juice for a rosy tint. But again, opinions are welcome.

The Heartbreaker

1 oz. vanilla vodka

1 oz.  pineapple rum

1/2 oz. fresh lime juice

1/2 oz.  tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 oz. simple syrup

2 slices red Anaheim pepper

 Combine all ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with small rounds of red chile pepper.

photo credit: Funnychill.com