I see chocolatiers as an elite group of pastry chefs, known for their creativity and ability to work well with such a finicky product. They work at a unique intersection where all flavor concepts are viable: a chef may rarely get to work with cacao, but a chocolatier will work with any of a chef's main ingredients on a given day. A pastry chef may send out for truffles, but a chocolatier must know how to work with all sorts of pastry concepts. A bartender may never use chocolate behind the bar, but chocolatiers work with alcohol on a regular basis.
Chocolate has always overlapped with beverages; it has been drunk as a beverage for several thousands of years, and only over the last few centuries have solid chocolates emerged as a mainstream concept.
Especially when considering chocolate's beverage-oriented history, it is interesting to see how today's beverages have influenced the production of solid chocolates. When it comes to drink-inspired chocolates, sometimes a chocolate will be inspired by a particular wine, at other times, a chocolate will emulate a popular cocktail. It is popular to fill chocolates with booze and ganache. Tea powders or essences might be used, or chocolates might be meant to artistically resemble or evoke the idea of a beverage.
Here are a few of my favorite drink-inspired chocolates from around Manhattan:
At Bond St. Chocolates, the chocolatier is a former restaurant pastry chef veteran. She is not messing around with her Elijah Craig bourbon chocolates, or her rum chocolates. Once you are good and buzzed off of these, it is interesting to ponder the gilded chocolate mini-statues she makes of the Buddha, Mary, and other religious figures.
The shop is very tiny, and the chocolate making area is right behind the counter, so you can always smell what fresh chocolate is in the works.
<--- Here is Chocolat Moderne's Green Apple & Calvados infused caramel.
They also make one called "Player," filled with Peaty Single Malt Scotch flavored caramel.
<-- L'atelier makes this interesting chardonnay and oak-smoked chocolate.
At Marie Belle, they offer several cocktail-inspired chocolates.
Here is their "Caipirinha" made with white chocolate, cachaca and lime---->
They also have a "Mojito" chocolate made from rum and mint.
<--- At Marie Belle they also have some chocolates inspired by spirits, like this Frangelico chocolate.
<--- At Xocolatti their wall is lined with chocolate boxes; you feel as if you are literally inside of a chocolate box! They have a blue-tinted sake flavored truffle.
Royce chocolates are a bit different- these come from Japan, and you can purchase boxes of chocolate covered potato chips, green tea flavored chocolate bites, or Champagne flavored chocolate.
Kee's is one of my favorites in the city-- these chocolates are always homemade and fresh. Their drink-inspired chocolates include: Cognac, Green Tea, Mango-Green Tea, Mint Mocha, and Champagne.
Maison is old school and professional-- all the employees have perfect posture and are always buttoned up. The chocolates line up ever so perfectly, and the service is on point; but you might want to let lose when you have a bite of their "Bacchus" chocolate made with rum and flambe raisins!
<---Bacchus - Rum & Flambe Raisins