I have a problem with Baileys. No, not like a beef with it, more like an addiction. As soon as the weather gets cool, and the noon sun gets closer to the horizon, stores put up those stacks of shiny, shiny gift packs, and I invariably pick one up. "What the hell?" I ask myself, "I'll just have a glass or two after dinner." Yeah, right -- fast forward to 48 hours later, and that bottle is gone; that's twenty-some-odd bucks, down the hatch all too quickly.
There has got to be a better way! Oh, sure, I could try to exercise a bit of willpower, but I have no illusions about myself. As the nights get longer and the ol' melatonin levels drop lower, my willpower loses what little influence it ever exerts, and gets put away until March. But a $22 bottle of Irish cream every two days is just not sustainable. Thus was my curiosity piqued when I saw ChocoVine at a DC shop last week. As you can see from my picture, it looks kinda like Bailey's, and one of the gentlemen at the shop assured me that it tasted just like Baileys... and this for $12.99? I'd had cheaper Irish creams before and been less than satisfied, but this was something altogether different, and the price was right. Sold!
ChocoVine is a new beverage made in Holland from a combination of chocolate and Cabernet wine. According to its website, ChocoVine is "the perfect union of wine and chocolate," and sure to "create a near-orgasmic taste experience." Quite the claim! So I brought the ChocoVine home, and I am afraid it didn't quite get the reception I had hoped -- my girlfriend also likes the Baileys, but living with a crazed addict, she rarely gets to have any, and was disappointed by my knock-off replacement for the bottle I'd downed. But eventually, despite the cheesy trade dress and dubious origins, she was grudgingly won over, and I, too, felt my $13 gamble a success.
ChocoVine, beyond opacity, doesn't really bear much resemblance to Baileys at all. For starters, it is thinner than Irish cream, though still quite thick, and almost buttery on the front. ChocoVine pours an odd shade of dark muddy brown, looking much as you might expect of a combination of red wine and chocolate. Though Baileys does have cocoa nibs in its recipe, ChocoVine tastes much more heavily of chocolate, and is markedly sweeter on the finish. In a nutshell, ChocoVine tastes like really strong chocolate milk, with the slightly gritty texture of a heavily cocoaed drink, and a slight bite thanks to its 14% abv.
Neat or on the rocks, Chocovine is a little cloying and oddly textured -- but shaken a bit with ice, it mellows out nicely, and develops a slightly foamy, more milk-like mouthfeel. We also sampled a few of the cocktails listed on the ChocoVine website, and found the Lady's Night (2 parts ChocoVine, 1 part Chambord, shaken with ice) to be a very pleasant nightcap, a fact I don't consider the least bit emasculating. Haven't tried it yet, but we've both been eyeballing that bottle of peppermint schnapps someone gifted us several years ago...
I picked up my bottle at Dixie Liquors (3429 M St NW), but I am pretty certain I have seen it pop up at several other stores in the last few weeks. Fellow closet dessert drink fiends, I will not go so far as to say that ChocoVine surpasses the glorious liquid crack that is Baileys, but it is a damned satisfying and versatile alternative for the money. Pick up a bottle and let me know what you think!