Apart from the interlocking ones on the Chanel logo, there can’t be two more satisfying places to spot the letter ‘C’ than in front of those delicious words cocktails and chocolate. Not that I’ve ever been a fan of tasting them in the same glass you understand. Cloying and sweet might appeal to some palates but when it comes to cocktails, it’s never been a combo that’s worked for me.
Fortunately, Artisan du Chocolat doesn’t do bad taste. That goes for each of its delicious couture chocs right through to the chic interior of its gleaming white store. We should have guessed that the same care, passion and pride would extend to the cocktail list but we were pleasantly surprised at just how good the drinks were.
After drooling over the artistic arrangements of truffles, liquid salted caramels, discs and luscious gift sets, we perched at one of the dinky tables cleverly shaped like chocolate cubes. Naturally, we bypassed the offer of hot drinking chocolate, butter sponge cake with chocolate sauce and brownies on the menu and zoned in on the cocktails instead. Hey, don’t judge us, we were celebrating a serious bout of shopping – this is Notting Hill after all.
It’s worth noting that there are only five cocktails on the list but each one is there for a reason. The Theobroma Cacao Pulp Bellini captured our attention: prosecco, lychee and Theobroma cacao pulp juice all balanced beautifully in a glass, just the ticket for a girly get together. Who knew that Theobrama cacao pulp juice packed such an intriguing punch? Actually, who knew what Theobrama pulp juice was? We loved the dry subtleness and elegance of this drink and would have ordered another if we hadn’t spotted the Cacao Martini.
Now here’s a drink to make you sit up and take notice. Firstly, there’s the aesthetics – all exotic halved cocoa shell and stem less martini glass perched on ice. But it’s more than that: this drink excels on the taste front with a winning combination of delicious cacao nibs and cacao beans infused in vodka, resulting in a big hit of cacao without any hint of the sweetness.
Cocktail guru Nick Strangeway has devised the main list and mixology maestro Tony Conigliaro has added another gem to the menu in the shape of the Carretero, his take on the Cuban mulato. Here it’s made with chocolate spirit, homemade Havana Club liqueur and fresh lime and served as a granita. Unfortunately, we only got to taste half a glass as the ice machine decided to pack up that day but we were won over anyway and will definitely be back for more.
Artisan du Chocolat might not be the obvious place to enjoy a cocktail but it’s a fabulous spot to share a gossip and a gloriously concocted martini with a girlfriend. Plus, and here’s a very big plus – the prices are amazing. Drinks of this quality for £5 and under are a treat not to be missed. The only drawback is the opening times – a 7pm curfew is hardly cocktail friendly. Still, it gives us the perfect excuse to enjoy a chocoholic treat in the middle of the day. Well, it would be rude not to…
Artisan du Chocolat – 81 Westbourne Grove, W2. – T: 0845 270 6996