We often come across bottles we’ve never seen before, new gins or brandies or liqueurs. But it’s very rare that we come across an entirely new kind of liquor.
Solbeso, the first of its kind, is a spirit made from the fruit of the cacao plant—not chocolate itself, but the fruit that actually surrounds cacao beans. Turns out that the flesh of this fruit, once it’s picked, begins to ferment almost immediately. In fact, it ferments so fast that Solbeso’s creators weren’t able to move the fruit offsite — they had to distill right there, before the fermentation got out of control.
At 80 proof, it’s as strong a spirit as rum, and shares some of rum’s sweetness and body. But it also has a floral, fruity element that’s all its own, with chocolaty undertones that are more subtle than you might expect.
Though pretty interesting on its own, it’s even more exciting in cocktails, where you can play up those fruity or rich or chocolaty elements as much as you like. Here are three of our favorites.
Easy: Solbeso & Coffee
Cacao and coffee are all but cousins, so why not pair Solbeso with cold brew? High-quality coffee has all sorts of cool fruity, floral notes of its own, which meshes perfectly with Solbeso, and a lemon twist on top brightens everything up.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 1 1/2 ounce Solbeso, 2 ounces of cold-brew coffee, and 1/2 ounce of simple syrup (that’s sugar dissolved in an equal part hot water.) Shake all that up well, then strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon twist — making sure to twist it over the surface of the drink to spray its citrus oils on top.
Intermediate: Solbeso & Orange
Play up Solbeso’s fruity side with fresh orange juice, and up the sophistication with sweet vermouth, whose complex, layered flavors make this drink nuanced and balanced at the same time.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 1 ounce of Solbeso, 1 ounce of sweet vermouth, and 1 ounce of fresh orange juice. Shake all that up well, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange half-moon.
Advanced: Solbeso & Grapes
As refreshing as a cocktail can be, this ideal springtime sipper is also so simple — grapes, Solbeso, lemon, and soda are pretty much all you need. We like leaving the grape bits in here for a more dramatic presentation.
Instructions: In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle 8 green grapes. Add 1 1/2 ounces of Solbeso, 1/4 ounce of lemon juice, 1/4 ounce of simple syrup, a dash of orange bitters, and ice. Shake all that up well, then pour, ice and all, into a tall glass. Fill with 2 ounces of club soda, give a quick stir, and garnish with whole grapes and a lemon wheel.