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Amsterdam Hot Chocolate

By Lesley Jacobs Solmonson

0.75 oz Bols Genever
0.5 oz
Orange Liqueur (Grand Marnier recommended)
5-6 oz rich Hot Chocolate

Add all ingredients to a mug.
Top with whipped cream, if desired. (Why wouldn’t you?)

Note: Jacob Grier’s original recipe also includes 0.25 oz Chartreuse, which is outside of the 12 Bottle Bar list.  If you happen to have it, however, do not hesitate to add it.

* * *

Today, I’m in an Oregon state of mind.  And, if you like cocktails – or food and wine, for that matter – you should be too.  For many decades, Oregon sat quietly in its prime west coast location, luxuriating in a sort of self-imposed anonymity.  European and enterprising American settlements dotted the Oregon landscape from the 17th century on – first it was the Spanish, then Lewis and Clark, followed by John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company and, finally, the British.  Everyone spoke highly of the pleasing landscape and the entrepreneurial possibilities leading to statehood in 1859.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, Oregon has proudly waved the liberal flag (although plenty of conservatives hold fort east of the Cascades).  These folks were “green” before the term even existed and were the first citizens to pass a doctor-assisted suicide law.  In the world of Cocktailiana (my cobbled-together word of the day), none of this matters, but, hey, it’s interesting to know of whom we speak.

No, what matters is that, today, Oregon is at the cutting edge of the food and drink movement – and the state wants everyone to know it.  The current movement began rather quietly back in the early 1960s with a little grape called Pinot Noir.  In 1979, an Oregon Pinot outclassed French Pinots in the “Wine Olympics”; not coincidentally, French burgundy producers soon began gobbling up land in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  A world-class wine industry was born, and Oregon finally had something to hang its hat on – besides lumber and wheat, that is.

I may be going out on a limb by saying this, but I credit Oregon’s wine industry with the state’s makeover.  Granted, there is a huge craft beer/artisan coffee movement and an identity tied to Northwest cuisine, but Oregon Pinot Noir made the state cool in a way it had never been before.  And, in recent years, Oregon – particularly Portland, its biggest city – has become a major player in the world of food and drink.  In fact, Portland is home to one of my favorite places – The Meadow.  Owned by Mark Bitterman, a self-titled “selmelier” (aka salt expert), and wife Jennifer, the Meadow specializes in over 100 varieties of salts and, among other things, more than 50 varieties of cocktail bitters.

But, aside from the bitters mentioned above, I digress, yes?  Where, you might ask, do cocktails fit into the picture?  How about the fact that, according to the American Distilling Institute, Oregon is second only to California in its number of distilleries; Portland alone has at least six.  There’s Bendistillery, which makes Cascade Mountain Gin, Ransom Wines & Spirits (a big shout-out to Tad Seestedt), which produces Small’s and Ransom Old Tom Gins (glorious, both of them), and Edgefield Distillery’s Hogshead Whiskey.  The list goes on.  And, in the world of the not-so-coincidental, is the fact that Imbibe Magazine, the nation’s only periodical dedicated to “liquid culture” (spirits, yes, but also coffee, beer, tea, etc.) is headquartered in Portland, Oregon.

And that brings us to today’s drink.  We’re smack in the midst of a Genever-thon and thought that a warming beverage for the brisk winter season was fitting.  This one comes courtesy of Jacob Grier, the Oregon brand ambassador for Lucas Bols.  Along with his duties for Bols, Jacob writes the blog Liquidity Preference and tends bar at Metrovino (among other gigs).  He also edited the cocktail recipe guide The Cocktail Collective.  And, speaking of Oregon distilleries, Jacob was just hired by Big Bottom Whiskey to create some cocktails for their first bottling – a 3-year-old Indiana Bourbon.

At 12 Bottle Bar, we are big fans of Jacob Grier, not in the least because of his self-effacing blogger credo:  “I’ll aspire to be occasionally meaningful, more frequently amusing, and mercifully brief the rest of the time.”  And then, there’s his devotion to cocktail culture.  The Amsterdam Hot Chocolate, which Jacob first posted on his website on Christmas Day 2010, was inspired by a comment he received on his first blog post about his Bols gig.  A reader mentioned sampling a hot chocolate with Genever and Orange Liqueur, served by an Amsterdam street vendor on a chilly night.  As Grier notes, Genever and chocolate might sound bizarre, but the malty quality of the Genever blends seamlessly with the cocoa.  Ditto with the orange.  Grier added the equally chocolate-friendly Chartreuse in his version, but with his permission, we have left it out as it’s not part of the 12BB collection.

This is a drink simple in ingredients but complex in flavor.  It’s what a good cocktail is supposed to be and we’re so pleased that Jacob let us ride on his coat tails for this one.  As you sip its malty, chocolatey goodness, think of Jacob, and Genever, and Oregon.   Long may their cocktail – and food and beer and wine and coffee — culture reign.

Esoterica: Oregon is home to what is considered the largest single organism in the world, an Armillaria ostoyae fungus – aka the honey mushroom (edible but not so tasty) — beneath the Malheur National Forest of eastern Oregon. The specimen covers 2,200 acres and is at least 2,400 years old.

    Comments ( 9 )

  • You know, I would have scoffed at gin and chocolate not so long ago. But I read about gin in coffee in late 19th c coffee and I am softening to irregular applications of familiar substances… open mind. I imagine the gin would do very interesting things to chocolate… thanks for a broadening horizen!

  • Robin

    I had never heard of The Meadow and their Himalayan salt blocks until yesterday when a blog I was reading mentioned it in their post. I visit you today and here it is again! How small the internet can be at times. Anyway, the Amsterdam hot chocolate looks so yummy and I would love to have a piping hot mug of it in from of me right now but my boss might frown on that.

  • Bobby E.

    Hello,
    I’m an avid reader and love your posts. I was wondering what your favorite type of chocolate to use for hot chocolate is and how you prepare it. Far too often I’ve tried various mixes and most seem to lack a decisively rich chocolate flavor. Anyway, thank you for the entertaining reads and ideas and keep up the fantastic work!

    • Bobby – Lesley (the hot chocolate maker in the family) tells me that we use Valrhona powder in whole milk. While on the subject, if you’re ever in Catalonia, seek out Cacao Sampaka, some of the best hot chocolate on earth. We went four mornings in a row.

  • [...] Genever being called for here.  We know that Genever and Orange Liqueur play nicely together (see Amsterdam Hot Chocolate), but orange juice and Dutch Gin can easily bring out each other’s worst qualities – making a [...]

  • [...] are a new cocktail recipe.  In fact, the first drink from Jacob that we featured here on 12BB was hot chocolate.  Okay, hot chocolate with booze in it, but as the Portland brand ambassador for Lucas Bols, you [...]

  • [...] Amsterdam Hot Chocolate from 12 Bottle Bar [...]

  • [...] Amsterdam Hot Chocolate from 12 Bottle Bar [...]

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