For those of you waiting on the iOS version of the free 4-Hour Chef teaser app, and for anyone who’d like a cheat day experiment this weekend, I offer the following: Tobacco-infused Tequila Hot Chocolate.
It’s absurd, decadent, and more delicious than you can imagine. Here’s the kicker: I usually hate tequila, so this was a revelation.
PLEASE NOTE: This is intended as a really fun DIY project and a rocking cheat drink, not as a time-saving cocktail. There are times for efficiency, and there are times to explore and enjoy life unhurried.
This is the latter, and it’s for FUN. Notice the last part of the subtitle for The 4-Hour Chef, which is “The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life.”
“There is more to life than increasing its speed,” as Mahatma Gandhi once said.
If you choose to tackle this challenge, share your experience in the comments!
Enter The Aviary
This spectacular drink was taught to me by Craig Schoettler, the executive chef at The Aviary in Chicago, without a doubt the most awe-inspiring “bar-less cocktail kitchen” in the world.
To set the scene: There are 30+ types of ice, and the customers are prevented from harassing the bartenders by a cage barricade. Perhaps you’d like an Old Fashioned served in an ice dinosaur egg? It’s prepared with a syringe, and you drink it after shattering the bourbon-filled casing with a miniature slingshot attached to the glass. Or how about a botanical-infused whiskey that changes colors like a chameleon over the course of 30 minutes? They have that, too.
Of course, you’d expect nothing less from the owners, who also run Alinea, the highest-ranked restaurant in the United States. Bartending through the lens of world-class chefs is otherworldly…
This recipe has been modified to fit a few standard measurements. This takes it from super insanely awesome (The Aviary) to merely very insanely awesome.
Want to see what all this looks like before you get started?
Here’s a video of my very first attempt, uncensored and unprofessional. It ain’t pretty, and that’s the point–even you, as a novice, can make something incredible if you’re willing to fumble a little. Below the video, you’ll find all the instructions you need:
As with all recipes, read through the entire thing before you get started or even go shopping! This will prevent hiccups and guarantee a better (and tastier) buzz.
FOR THE CIGAR MILK:
945 ml / 4 cups Whole milk
40 g / ¼ cup Sugar
1 big pinch / ¼ tsp. Salt
1 Cigar (something cheap is fine)
FOR THE HOT CHOCOLATE BASE:
475 ml / 2 cups Whole milk
40 g / ¼ cup Sugar
1 pinch Salt
100 g / 3½ oz. Bittersweet chocolate, such as Alpaco 66% cacao, chopped
FOR THE BOOZE:
90 ml/g / 3 fl. oz. Tequila, preferably Fortaleza Blanco
10 ml/g / 2 tsp. Fernet-Branca
MAKES: 2 drinks, plus enough cigar milk for more
HANDS-ON TIME: Approx. 20 mins.
TOTAL TIME: Approx. 1 hr. 30 mins., max (30-60 min. of letting the cigar smoke)
FOR STANDARD HOME METHOD:
• A large baking pan or a roasting pan
• A smaller baking pan for the milk, sugar, and salt
FOR TIM’S GHETTO METHOD (seen in the above video):
• A largish cereal or soup bowl
• A large stock pot
• A candle lighter or butane/lighter torch
• A cigar
• Aluminum foil
• A saucepan or skillet (or both, if you want to melt the chocolate separately)
• An immersion blender, ideally with a cream-whipping attachment or milk frother
• Ice trays (for freezing extra cigar milk for later)
Now, How to Make It
Make the cigar milk foam. You have two choices: the standard home method or the Tim ghetto method.
Standard home method:
• In a baking pan, mix the milk, sugar, and salt.
• Set the pan inside a larger metal baking or roasting pan (choose a disposable one or something you don’t mind smelling like cigars).
• Split the cigar in half lengthwise and place it on a piece of aluminum foil in the larger pan.
• Light the cigar with a candle lighter or a butane lighter/torch, then quickly cover both pans with a piece of aluminum foil. Let smoke for one hour.
Tim ghetto method:
• Mix the milk, sugar, and salt in a largish cereal or soup bowl.
• Put this bowl inside a stockpot. I prefer a large and cheap stockpot (don’t forget to buy a lid!) that I use mostly for cooking sous-vide and lobsters.
• Split the cigar in half lengthwise and place it on a piece of aluminum foil at the bottom of the stockpot.
• Light the cigar with a candle lighter or a butane lighter/torch (remember canisters), cover the pot, and let smoke for 30–45 minutes. Thirty minutes is plenty, in my experience.
• Later, to de-stench your stockpot, just clean it out and leave a bowl of white wine vinegar mixed with peppermint oil inside, covered, for 1–2 hours.
While the milk is smoking, make the hot chocolate base. In a saucepan or skillet, combine the milk, sugar, and salt and bring to a simmer.
Remove from heat and slowly add the chocolate. I like to put the chips in a separate skillet and slide them in. Do NOT add them by hand, as scalding milk can splash upward and Phantom of the Opera your hands. Stir until chocolate is melted, then cover and set aside.
Foam the cigar milk: Pour the milk into a saucepan and heat it to just below a simmer or a light simmer. Use an immersion blender—ideally one fitted with the cream-whipping attachment or a milk frother—to blend until foamy. No attachment? Just blend for 45 seconds, then wait 2–3 minutes for the bubbles to surface.
Combine the tequila and Fernet-Branca into one of your serving cups, then pour half of it into the other. You can use a scale, but I just eyeball it. Into each cup, pour about 7 fluid ounces (210 milliliters) of the hot chocolate base and top with some of the cigar milk foam.
Serve warm and love life.
If you don’t finish the cigar milk, freeze it in ice trays to surprise future guests with unusual iced coffee.