The Bonne-Bonne

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When I was penning The Big Book of Martinis for Moms -- because that's how one writes a book; one pens them ever so eloquently; one doesn't thrash at one's laptop until the "c" key gets permanently stuck or try to organize one's writer-blocked thoughts by haphazardly slapping a bajillion Post-Its on the wall like a mental patient -- I had an idea for a chocolate-cherry cocktail.

If you've readskimmed why haven't you bought this book yet please buy this seen the book, you know that the cocktail recipes therein each correspond to a particular feat of motherhood that deserves a potent, potable reward. So like babyproofing the house is an accomplishment that calls for a Rusty Nail, while helping with homework earns Mom a Brainstorm. The chocolate-cherry cocktail, I thought, would be a mother's just desserts on those blessed afternoons or evenings when she gets to do nothing at all, fluffy-slippered feet resting atop the coffee table. In other words, like drinking a bonbon.

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Unfortunately, I knew that actually inventing said cocktail would not be so easy-breezy. Chocolate and cherry are two very forceful flavors. I find that sometimes when I try to combine two big, bold tastes like that, I wind up with a flavor profile that's somehow less than, or even worse than, the sum of its parts. It can taste entirely like one flavor and none like the other, or two two can meld into something downright blech-y.

Anyway, one way I snuck around those problems was by relying on cranberry juice, which provided a lovely hue (seriously, cranberry juice really does pretty up a drink) as well as an easygoing companion, palate-wise, to my white creme de cacao.

The Bonne Bonne (which I've given a French feminine spelling) wound up not making it into the book. Quel mal-mal for the book but goody for us!

The Bonne Bonne

1 1/4 ounces vodka

3/4 ounce white creme de cacao

2 ounces cranberry juice cocktail

2 dashes chocolate bitters

Combine all four ingredients into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously for about 20 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail or martini glass.

Tasting Notes

I didn't have any Three Olives Cherry vodka on hand while testing out this recipe, but I'd bet it's an ever better ingredient to use in this instance that straight-up vodka.

An even bigger cheat: You can make a drink with equal parts chocolate vodka and cranberry juice. Not bad at all. (Ghetto Bonne Bonne, anyone?)

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You Call It! #2

We made coffee espresso-infused* vodka this week. It was totes easy! We just took a cup of fresh, dark-roast beans and gently cracked them open by applying pressure with the bottom of a measuring cup. (See photo.) Then we dumped ‘em into a fifth of vodka (something middle-shelf; I think we used Stoli or Ketel) and stored it in a cool, dry place for a few days. Voila!

We’ve suffered through fiasco infusions before. (Would you like to taste the most terrible homemade peach-flavored vodka ever? No, you would not.) This one’s practically foolproof because, unlike a delicate peach, the robustness of the beans lets you know by smell whether or not your infusion’s balanced, needs more time, etc. We knew we had something good after about a week, when the espresso aroma actually eclipsed the alcohol-y smell of the vodka. Next, of course, came the question of what cocktail to invent with it...

I am of the firm belief that an espresso vodka with a splash of red wine is the start of something promising. However, since a household consensus could not be reached on that point (the other one of us had his doubts), we came up with this instead. I know it reads over-the-top sweet, like a drink the Dude would abide by, but trust me when I say this baby is multifaceted: It opens with rich java, curiously transitions into a raisin-y flavor and finishes long and smooth. It tastes manly, actually, which maybe will spark a creative thought or two when I ask you...

What should we call it?

You Call It #2

1 1/4 ounces housemade espresso-infused vodka

3/4 ounces Grand Marnier

1/2 ounce housemade vanilla syrup

1/2 ounce light cream or half-and-half

4 or 5 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters

1 cardamom pod

Drop the cardamom pod into the bottom of a cocktail shaker, and use the bottom end of a muddler to crack/crush. Fill shaker with ice and add all liquid ingredients. Shake vigorously. Strain into cocktail glass.

* When I originally posted this, I called it coffee-infused vodka. Sean has since corrected me.

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