Whiskey and chocolate: the next big food pairing?

whiskey chocolateWhiskey and chocolate are two of my favorite things — but together? I was suspicious. That is, until I attended a pairing event at Union Square Wines here in New York City, hosted by Pacari Chocolate and Compass Box Whisky. Somehow, the flavors came together perfectly, and not just because of my whiskey buzz and sugar high (though those were there too).

The tasting consisted of five pairings, some traditional and others more off-beat. The one that blew me away was a pairing of the award-winning Hedonism, a vanilla and toffee-flavored Scotch grain whisky blend, with Pacari’s Amazonian Lemongrass chocolate. When the high citrus notes of the chocolate hit the sweetness of the whiskey a whole other flavor emerged, which lingered nicely in my mouth for quite some time.

Another popular pairing was Compass Box’s Orangerie, a Scotch whisky infused with hand-zested orange, cassia bark and clove, with Pacari’s Aji Chili-Coriander Spiced Chocolate. The sweet and the spicy came together just right and the coriander added an extra kick.One reason the pairing event worked so well is that both Pacari and Compass Box are artisan brands. Pacari is the first single-origin organic chocolate produced entirely in Ecuador with biodynamically-grown ingredients. Compass Box is a boutique Scotch whiskymaker and craft blender, known for blending specially-selected whiskeys from Scotland using natural processes, without chill filtering or artificial coloring. Because both the whiskey and chocolate are produced naturally and in small batches, they are able to retain many of the lipids that get lost in large-scale manufacturing — a big contributor to the flavor explosions I experienced from many of the pairings.

Drooling over your keyboard yet? New York-area foodies hankering for a taste can attend a pairing event on March 27 at the St Giles Hotel New York — The Court. Tickets are $35 and available here.