Choctails perfect to lift spirits in winter
South Africa's pre-eminent chocolatier, Richard von Geusau, once described combining chocolate with the country's best brandies as "an awakening".
Not quite an understatement for anyone who has tried this decadent combination and had the pleasure of experiencing the sensation of chocolate melting in the sip of a fine brandy in the mouth.
This is the result of brandy's high alcohol content cutting through the richness and sweetness of the chocolate, underlining the natural compatibility of chocolate and the spirit.
Sweet, creamy milk chocolate is often best with a delicate, smooth potstill brandy,
especially one with vanilla overtones, while dark chocolate can be matched with a more robust, mature brandy, according to the Brandy Foundation.
Potstill brandy is the finest of this category of spirits, and contains 38% alcohol content, compared to the blended brandies, which are stronger and enjoyed with mixers like cola and fruit juices.
Geusau says the trick when it comes to chocolate and fine brandy pairings is in matching a brandy's aroma characters with the same flavours in chocolate.
"But there are no hard-and-fast rules, so go ahead, have fun and experiment," says Von Geusau in the book Fire Water, the South African Brandy.
Likewise, fine brandy with hot chocolate is a good match and the combination is a perfect winter warmer .To demonstrate hot chocolate's harmony with fine brandy, mixologist OwenO'Reilly teamed up with NOMU and liquor
giant Distell to show how this combination can be the perfect base of three soul-warming brandy chocolate cocktails.
NOMU's award-winning products include herbs and spices, hot chocolate, vanilla and olive oil.
O'Reilly mixed Distell's Van Ryn's 10-year-old Vintage Brandy and the Van Ryn's 12-year-old Distiller's Reserve potstill with NOMU's premium hot chocolate - and crafted some lip-smacking hot concoctions that warmed the cockles of the heart almost instantly.
With just a hot chocolate drink, milk and mature brandy, anyone can make a perfect DIY cocktail to savour at home while watching television or sitting by the fireside on a cold, freezing night.