Elevate Your Negroni And Old Fashioned Cocktails With Crème De Cacao

The chocolate liqueur called crème de cacao is a gloriously-scented and -flavored tipple, something that Willy Wonka surely would have made, had he sent his Golden Tickets out for adults to find instead of children. It's a key ingredient in popular cocktails that are on the sweeter side, like minty Grasshoppers, chocolate martinis, and creamy Brandy Alexanders. While it's often reserved for drinks that could double as dessert, more creative mixologists have discovered that this liqueur gives an interesting character to classic old fashioneds and Negronis.

Crème de cacao is definitely sweet, but it doesn't have to be cloying. A little of it can go a long way, so just a touch added to a simple, strong drink can create a wonderful complexity without a sugar rush. When it comes to Negronis, crème de cacao complements the flavors of Campari, a major part of the drink. There are bitter, citrus, and spice flavors in the orange-hued alcohol, all which play nicely with chocolate.

In a similar manner, the chocolate liqueur is a tasty foil to old fashioneds, which feature bourbon, bitters, and orange zest and cherry garnishes. Adding a touch of chocolate to this sweet, fruity, and bitter mix is absolutely delicious, and will make you wonder why you haven't used crème de cacao in the classic drink before now.

Crème de cacao shines in other cocktails, too

When you open a bottle of crème de cacao, the aroma alone may give you an overwhelming desire to put it into every cocktail you make. A good rule of thumb for novices is to use it in drinks with flavors that complement chocolate. On this note, Manhattans, Paper Planes (which are made with bitter amaro, Aperol, and bourbon), and even whiskey sours would all be good experiments for crème de cacao.

Then again, there are some drinks that utilize the chocolate liquor in ways that might seem a little unusual, yet they still work. Take the 20th Century cocktail, for example. It is a combination of gin, Lillet Blanc, crème de cacao, and lemon juice. The Prohibition-era drink is a delicious and unexpected example of seemingly opposite flavors coming together seamlessly.

Meanwhile, the daiquiri-esque Scorpion Kick drink, which was created at New York's Diamond Reef (now closed), combines white rum, lime juice, crème de cacao, and mint. It sounds strange at first, but chocolate is a good partner for both citrus and mint, and mild and sweet white rum isn't likely to clash with these other strong flavors. Perhaps chocolate really does belong in everything.

Crème de cacao can elevate other drinks and desserts

If this luscious, chocolate-scented liqueur can take countless cocktails up a notch, you better believe it can do the same to other foods and drinks. You can spike hot chocolate, coffee, lattes, and horchata with crème de cacao. It can also take the already-boozy classic Irish coffee to the next level. You can pair this whiskey-based drink with gouda cheese for a simple yet delicious appetizer or post-dinner treat.

On the dessert side of the spectrum, try drizzling crème de cacao into heavy cream the next time you make freshly whipped cream, and dollop it on top of Texas Trash pie. After you toast marshmallows over a campfire, dip them into crème de cacao before you layer them with fruit for a delicious, more elegant take on s'mores. The liqueur would also be a perfect addition to extra-chocolatey Italian affogatos. Lace the espresso with a touch of the liquor, and substitute chocolate gelato for the traditional vanilla flavor. You can garnish each glass with some more chocolate shavings to really win over the cocoa lovers in your life.