Barrel-aged rum and craft chocolate have a lot in common. Both share complex flavors of vanilla, sometimes cinnamon and nutmeg, or salted caramel. Some rums even gather hints of chocolate from the aging process.
“In chocolate, you actually have a lot of natural flavors that are also expressed in rum,” says Bob McCoy, director of on-premise sales at Privateer Rum in Ipswich. “They complement each other really well.”
So it seems only natural at this time of year to put them together in a thoroughly warming and totally decadent hot chocolate.
Sure, you could just dump a shot or two into some Swiss Miss, but McCoy, who worked behind the bar at Eastern Standard before joining Privateer, has extensive mixology training and loves coming up with creative approaches to cocktails. When combining Privateer rum and cocoa, he set his sights on an homage to the mai tai, perhaps the most famous tiki drink in the world.
“Our rum has so much versatility,” McCoy says. “You can put it in a crisp, clean citrusy drink like a mai tai or a rich, sweet drink, and it will improve either one.”
Contemplating that, McCoy came up with the Cocoa Vic, named for Trader Vic’s, where the mai tai is said to have been invented. While it is honestly nothing at all like a mai tai, the drink toys with many of the same elements, from using almond milk as a nod to orgeat to topping it with a falernum whipped cream and some orange and lime zest.
Also in a nod to the classic mai tai, McCoy uses a blend of rums—the label’s flagship Privateer True American Amber Rum and the stronger, richer Navy Yard, which is made from 100 percent Grade A molasses.
When looking around for an appropriate sweet partner to pair with, McCoy turned to Somerville chocolate company Taza, whose stone-ground bean-to-bar approach rings true with the Privateer philosophy. After all, Privateer even sources its own special real raw brown sugar, almost exclusively from U.S. fields. Word of the special sugar has gotten around, to the point where local restaurants and commercial kitchens have started buying it from them. “People are really excited about our sugar,” McCoy says.
At press time, Privateer was slated to open a new retail and event space, packed with cool swag, and a curated collection of supplies, from hand-blown tiki glasses to local raw honey, along with two-pound bags of that precious sugar. Oh, and lots of rum—some of which is only available at the distillery.
Stop by—Northshore is hoping they might be selling a special Cocoa Vic kit to warm up those cold winter nights. Either way, we know they will have plenty of rum.
Recipe by Bob McCoy, Privateer Rum
For the tropical whipped topping, McCoy went old-school, making it in a chilled cocktail shaker. While this is ideal—it allows the mixologist to control the thickness of the whipped cream more easily, crafting something that can be poured to float over the top rather than spooned—a stick blender or electric mixer would work as well.
1 oz. Privateer True American Amber Rum
½ oz. Privateer Navy Yard Rum
8 oz. Taza hot cocoa
Falernum whipped cream
In a hot mug, combine rums and hot cocoa. Top with a layer of whipped cream and garnish with fresh orange and lime zest.
Taza Hot Cocoa
Grate or grind one disc of Taza Cacao Puro and set aside. Heat 1 cup of almond milk in a pan over medium heat to just below a simmer. Remove from heat, add a pinch of salt, and slowly mix in the chocolate, stirring until dissolved. Before serving, return to the stove and warm over low heat until hot.
Falernum Whipped Cream
Place a set of interlocking Boston shakers in the freezer for at least 10 minutes. Take out of the freezer and add 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, 2 Tbsp. Privateer real boiled brown sugar (or other brown sugar), 1 tsp. Privateer pure evaporated cane juice crystals (or other raw sugar), and 2 tsp. falernum. Cap the shakers and shake until the liquid has thickened enough to layer on top of the drink.