Add that deep, rich flavor of dark chocolate to your cocktails with this fast and easy DIY chocolate-infused whiskey. With just two ingredients, your next cocktails will benefit from this chocolate-flavored whiskey as a way to add the bitterness and earthiness of chocolate without additional sugar (unless you decide you prefer it that way). Whiskey infusions work best when you match the flavor profile of your whiskey to the infusion element as a way to enhance flavors you already detect in the whiskey. So bonus — you get to taste whiskey first!
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DIY Whiskey Infusions Dress Up Your Cocktails
A fabulous cocktail is all about the balance of flavors and aroma components to make a great drink that appeals to all the senses. Infusing the base spirit is something I see all the time on social media as a quick/simple method to add flavor layers to a classic cocktail.
I use infusions from items in my pantry as an easy way to explore flavors without adding sweetness or volume to cocktails. A great infusion used in a balanced way adds specific components or impressions of a flavor or taste without overwhelming the cocktail. In this way, we’ll add the bitterness and earthiness of dark chocolate to a whiskey without making a sweet liqueur for this chocolate whiskey.
I’ve written an article before on how to make infusions with bourbon, which includes general tips, but covers infusing whiskey with cookies. My favorite so far is an oatmeal cookie infusion with bourbon. Makes a great Oatmeal Cookie Old Fashioned
In this example, we’ll use cacao nibs (sometimes people misspell them as cocoa nibs), not cocoa powder or dark chocolate to create the cocoa whiskey. This keeps the whiskey clearer (while still dark) and lets you add the exact amount of sweetness you desire to the cocktail.
What Is a Good Whiskey to Infuse for Chocolate-Infused Whiskey?
When selecting a great whiskey for infusions. I always look for a whiskey between 90-95 proof that’s got some of the same flavor components in the aroma or flavor of the bourbon or whiskey.
In this case, I’ve used Woodford Reserve, Michters and Bardstown Bottled in Bond to make versions of this chocolate whiskey successfully. If you have a bourbon or whiskey with strong chocolate notes in the nose or taste, use that as your base.
When infusing whiskey, higher proof whiskey-infused faster, but I find the “hot” taste of the proof can overwhelm some of the more subtle flavors the whiskey pulls out of the chocolate or what food element you’re infusing.
How Long Do Infused Spirits Last?
Whiskey infused with spices or dry pantry items can last a long time when well-strained and stored out of direct sun, 6 months or longer. If you want to make sure they last even longer, keep them refrigerated. I’ve had peach and cinnamon infusions last over a year in the fridge. But to be fair, they’re usually consumed in cocktail far before a year has passed.
This holds true for orange whiskey infusions, coffee whiskey infusions, cinnamon, and vanilla spirit infusions, and more. If you infuse with something dry or whole, you’re better able to remove the particles that might spoil as the infusion ages.
However, if you infuse items with high-fat content, like cookies, actual chocolate bars, nut butters, etc. the additional fat in the infusion shortens the shelf-life and means you’ll need to keep the infusion refrigerated. I’ve had success keeping those richer infusions refrigerated for up to 6 months.
Can I Infuse Bourbon with Chocolate?
While you can use chocolate bars or chocolate chips to infuse bourbon, they add two things to the infusion which alter the flavor profile, mouthfeel, and safe use of the whiskey infusion. When using chocolate chips or chocolate bars, you’re adding both fats and sugars to the whiskey along with that dark chocolate taste. As a result, the chocolate bourbon is cloudy, sweeter, and must be refrigerated after it’s made.
The easier way to create chocolate bourbon is through cacao nibs rather than chocolate chips or bars.
Now, have I infused bourbon with Ferrero Rocher hazelnut truffles? You bet! But I chose to use it in cocktails that were cream-based or ice-filled so the cloudiness didn’t affect the appearance of the cocktail to me. To be honest it was so delicious I was the only one concerned with what it looked like.
How to Make Homemade Chocolate Whiskey
I love DIY chocolate whiskey because when you use cacao nibs for the infusion you get the bitterness of chocolate, the roasted flavors (which tie in nicely with some whiskeys with strong barrel notes), and plenty of that earthiness you find in a bar of very dark chocolate.
To start the infusion, simply add ¼ cup of cocoa nibs to a glass mason jar and add 12 oz of bourbon (or whiskey). Seal the jar, agitate the liquid and set it in a cool, dark place. You’ll infuse for several days, and each day, agitate the liquid gently.
After 48 hours, taste the whiskey. See if the chocolate flavors are pronounced enough. If not, let it sit for up to a week. Mine was perfect at 3 days, but sample it each day to see if it’s chocolatey enough for you.
Once you’re happy with the taste, use a metal sieve to strain out the cacao nibs, store in the infusion in a clean glass jar, and label it. Depending on how you’ll use your chocolate-infused whiskey, you may opt to add a touch of simple syrup to the finished, strained product to add some sweetness to it. For a 12 oz infusion, I might add 1 oz of simple syrup, two if it’s particularly bitter. But, I only add that if I know I want to add sweetness to the chocolate whiskey infusion.
And your choice of simple syrup affects the final flavor, too. You can use white sugar simple syrup or try light brown simple, raw simple, or even agave nectar. Each type of simple syrup adds its own flavors and aromas to the final product.
Now that You Know How to Make Your Own Chocolate Whiskey, Here Are Some Chocolate Whiskey Recipes:
The best way to use your homemade chocolate liquor is in cocktails, of course. Look to recipes that might already contain coffee or chocolate for a stellar combination. For example, using your chocolate whiskey in any of the following classic recipes would make a great riff on a standard:
- Old Fashioned
- Manhattan (especially with orange bitters)
- Whiskey Sour
- Whiskey Smash (think raspberry, strawberry, or cherry smash with that chocolate whiskey.)
Check Out These Cookie Whiskey Infusions
If you need more information on how to make a whiskey infusion, don’t forget to head over to this article for how to infuse bourbon with cookies. It is an amazing flavor combination, just a much longer filter process!
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DIY chocolate-infused whiskey
- 12 oz bourbon 90-95 proof
- ¼ cup cacao nibs
- Optional: add 1 oz simple syrup
- Add the whiskey and cacao nibs to a mason jar and seal.
- Let the nibs infuse in a cool, dark place for at least 48 hours and up to 1 week. Each day, agitate the infusion and start checking flavor after 48 hours.
- Once you love the flavor, strain through a metal sieve and store it in a clean glass jar. If you prefer a sweeter chocolate-infused whiskey, add 1 oz of simple syrup to the jar and store it in the fridge.