How To Create A Dreamy Tequila And Chocolate Pairing

A lot of dreaminess slumbers in a bar of chocolate, and the best ones need no pairing partners. But sometimes, a magic combination just can't be denied — hello, chocolate and tequila. Both stand alone magnificantly, but together, the dynamic duo presents some interesting palate pleasures.

It's a delicate dance when pairing two seemingly disparate textures and flavors, but tequila and chocolate have more in common than you might imagine. That's because cacao and blue agave inherently harbor complementary flavor profiles, according to Jaime Salas, Head of Agave Advocacy at Proximo Spirits, creating a "lovely marriage when brought together."

Like any marriage, it still takes the right combination. With chocolate and tequila, it comes down to intricacies such as texture, taste, depth, and complexity. Fortunately, it's not as intimidating as it sounds. If you love tequila and adore chocolate, it's quite easy to get a luscious pairing with the following expert insights and ideas.

Balance, color, and added ingredients are important to consider

In the art of tequila and chocolate pairing, balance is key, explains Salas. While integrating elements is crucial to any art form, the striking combination of taste and texture in consumable art is a phenomenon set apart. Distinct foods and drinks, especially ones like tequila and chocolate with very strong profiles, must work in harmony to prevent a sensory overload on the palate. 

First of all, be mindful of color — not just for visual interest. Both chocolate and tequila come in shades from light to dark, reflecting characteristics such as flavor, texture, and depth. The tequila expert suggests exploring pairing potentials by sipping light, blanco tequilas while nibbling on white chocolates and, conversely, dark or aged tequilas with dark chocolates. This ensures a complementary balance rather than a disorienting distraction. 

Even following the color-guide principle, Salas warns that you should still be mindful of any added ingredients to the chocolate since it's very common for confectioners to spice up their bars, bites, and truffles with hints of cinnamon, sea salt, chili, or even coffee flavors. Though delicious on their own, these flavored chocolates can clash with tequila unless you choose carefully. Experimenting is part of the enjoyment, though, so be adventurous on the pairing journey.

Pair artisanal or basic chocolate with tequila

Quality is a relative word, and tequila and chocolate preferences can vary wildly. But generally, it's easier to get a pure pairing experience with what's considered premium tequila and artisanal-style chocolates. Jaime Salas recommends the small-batch, ultra-premium Jose Cuervo's Reserva de la Familia tequila collection, which comes in various aged categories for an array of chocolate pairing possibilities. To keep the "marriage" regional, consider matching with locally made Mexican chocolates.

Several tequila types blend well with chocolate due to specific characteristics. For example, white tequila and white chocolate work well because, as Salas explains, the "agave-forward" element "brings out an array of bright citrus flavor profiles that is enhanced by sweet chocolates." For a slight palate kick, a reposado tequila aged in oak can be a perfect match for dark chocolate with hints of spice. Or turn that kick into a friendly punch with cayenne and other spice-forward chocolates.

Then there are the deeper dark hues of extra añejo tequilas, which age longer and absorb myriad flavors from the wood, creating a "fuller bouquet," says Salas. This expands pairing options, from the safe-and-sound dark chocolate choice to bold, experimental contrasts such as extra añejo tequila with white chocolate and orange ganache. Just steer away from chocolates sitting on the stark opposite ends of the bitter and milky spectrum. 

If your "purist" tendencies arise and you're craving something more simple, the expert suggests shaving your favorite chocolate bar straight into a neat tequila shot, as this helps to release its oils and kicks you a bit further along the pairing voyage.