Who wouldn’t enjoy a bite of chocolate with their craft cocktail or glass of wine?
So thought New Jersey chocolatier David Little. Out for dinner one evening, he was watching fellow guests receive their cocktails. He felt that “people were experiencing the same feelings one gets when they unwrap their favorite chocolate bar.”
Little was also impressed with the bartender’s craftsmanship with garnishes, but wondered about the high level of labor involved. Composing all these thoughts onto a cocktail napkin, Little designed the Chocolate Sidecar: a 1/3-oz. chocolate disc with a notch so that it can sit on the rim of a glass.
“Upscale beverages and chocolates, both appeal to the same senses of touch, sight, smell and taste, and offer an added treat to any moment,” says Little, who officially launched the product this past July.
The Belgian-style gourmet chocolates, which retail for about $1 each, measure 1-3/8” in diameter and are 3/8” thick. They come in a variety of flavors, from the standard milk and dark chocolate, to orange, strawberry, mint, lemon, lime and jalapeno.
Designs on the candies depict the flavor, so the orange-flavored chocolate Sidecars have are imprinted with an orange fruit motif (shown above), lime show green limes, and so on. Holiday themes include mint-flavored chocolates with candy cane designs.
Little’s company, Chocolatetext.com, will also stamp logos and images on the candies. For example, he’s worked with Treasury Wine Estates to include its logo on Chocolate Sidecars for New Jersey wine tastings.
The different flavors provide a number of pairing opportunities: Dark chocolate pieces are a natural garnish on a glass of red wine; milk chocolate goes well with Champagne or white wines. The lime flavor works with tequila cocktails, while the orange candies complement bourbon drinks.
Customers Eating Them Up
But customers are not too picky about flavors when they get a chocolate Sidecar with their cocktail, says Melanie Minuth, general manager for Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza in Livingston, NJ. “Most of the time the garnish just goes right into the customer’s mouth,” she notes.
Minuth has tested dark and milk Chocolate Sidecars on a broad spectrum of drinks, including her Pomegranate Martinis and all of Anthony’s wines. The sidecars have proven so popular that she’s also included them on Grey Goose vodka Martinis, and with some beer pours such as pumpkin brews or pear cider.
“We’ve found that you can really put either on whatever drink,” Minuth says. “Either way, it’s still special to the customer.”
As a beverage alcohol enthusiast, “I’m always looking for something new, that special little touch you want to see in cocktails these days,” she adds.
Anthony’s customers seem to appreciate the chocolate bonus when it arrives on their beverages.
“People are ripping them off their glasses and eating them before they even take a photo of their drink,” Minuth says. “And that’s quite uncommon these days.”
Kyle Swartz is associate editor of Cheers magazine. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org