Home Bars Rule: DIY Chocolate Liqueur

What’s about to happen with the following ingredients is so simple, it’s practically a guide to cooking dried pasta. All that takes is water, a generous pinch of salt, and a pot to put on the stove. In this case, it’s rum, cacao nibs, some vanilla beans and a mere bottle. And patience.

Meant to be.

As you could surmise from recent posting, my home bar continues to grow on a regular basis, having now taken over a large third of my small living room. And by that, I mean, it’s fantastic. My bitter components are never-ending, the infusions rotate by the season, and kombucha fruition has recently joined the club (at the moment, it’s coconut-ginger-green), in addition to today’s focus: DIY Chocolate Liqueur

So. A couple of months ago, I came across some recipe or another for a drink that called for it, probably something with bourbon, and lightbulb: the concept of making my own was added to the summer project pile.

Why would I buy a bottle when I could capture some legit flavors at home?

There’s something so lovely and just so, subtle, about this take on chocolate liqueur.  I’ve purchased more than one bottle from my local liquor store in the past, and what you take home is undeniably saccharine and full of at least one or two ingredients that make your shake your head. It’s all for what, some wannabe Godiva chocolate martini? Making my own fruit liqueurs and bitters was so much easier and more rewarding than I anticipated, so why not chocolate liqueur? Why, yes.

Your end result will not resemble chocolate syrup (which again, is what so many bottles seem to be going for); this method creates a very smooth cacao-rum winner.

Here’s something else to note: when you see ‘liqueur’, you’re normally talking homemade booze + sugar, such as a schnapps or fruit brandy. Curiously enough, as the internet tells me (and Epicurious, no less), in this case, you’re not adding additional sweetener.

You’re simply using the rum, which is of course, created from sugarcane, and the cacao nibs (and I have to thank the Frontier Co-op table at the Better Living Show for the generous sample I’m still making my way through), do all the sweet, sweet work. 

DIY Chocolate Liqueur

You’ll need:
  • 3 vanilla beans, scored (or 1 tablespoon high quality vanilla extract)
  • 1/4 cup of cacao nibs
  • one 700 ML bottle of gold rum (or other preferred rum, that is not spiced)
First things first, you’re going to need a slightly larger jar than what’s currently holding your rum, or you’re going to have to remove some and make someone a mojito before you begin. It’s up to you. Maybe infuse a small jar with some cinnamon and nutmeg for your own spiced rum. Whatever.
Once you’ve settled that, add the beans and nibs into a large, clean, airtight glass jar or bottle, top with rum, give a little shake, and let sit for a minimum of 3 weeks.

Really, reading about this undertaking takes much longer than putting everything together.

Perpetually repurposing bottles. Thanks, Sea Cider.

Similar to making an extract, you can keep the goodies in there, no need to strain. They’re potent and could stand another round of rum (though it will be a little less flavorful, it’ll do). As a gal who’s forever on a budget, adding a mere additional vanilla bean (which in itself is pretty amazing) with the additional rum will take you in the right direction. Add some ginger or cardamom to mix things up.

One month later, nice and rich.

Now, what to do with your homemade cacao-infused rum? Flavor frostings, fillings, cookies, and for real: Get mixing new cocktails.

Or, perhaps, a sweet apertif sampler.

Here are some simple cocktails I’ve been playing with…

For a…..Roasted Coconut & Cacao Nib cocktail, shake the following with ice: 1.5 oz black spiced rum, such as Kraken, 1/4 oz chocolate liqueur, 1/8 oz. cherry brandy (I’m still working with my own from last summer), 1.5 oz. roasted coconut juice and a dash of dark agave. Serve in a chilled glass.

Canned, roasted coconut juice is delicious, and makes for an unexpected flavor, but you could also use coconut water, or really, another juice you enjoy.

For something a little more expected….try this take on the classic ‘White Russian’, either replacing or mixing with the coffee liquor (which requires only a wee bit more hands-on activity to create yourself). Aka, hello dessert cocktail #2.

Not quite a White Russian.

Coconut-Cacao White Russian = Shake the following with ice: 3-5 oz vodka (depending on how strong you prefer this cocktail) and  2 oz chocolate liquor/or, 1 oz of chocolate and coffee each, pouring over more ice, and topping with 3 oz of creamer of your chouce. I prefer this vanilla barista coconut series,myself.

Now, for cocktail with a silly custom name, try The Soda Shoppe...

Shake the following with ice: 2 oz whiskey, 1 oz chocolate liqueur and 1 dash citrus-flavored bitters. Pour into a chilled glass, top with natural cream soda, and garnish with fresh mint. The combination of flavors just call for that retro title.

Or hey, treat yourself to a very special milkshake, iced dirty chai or special hot cocoa.

For more Get Sconed! mixology projects, click on the ‘Heartichoke‘ tag.


  1. Yum! I want to drink that last drink right now.

    Also, I can’t hear or read the word cacao without thinking about that Portlandia cacao sketch and laughing to myself. Cacao! Cacao! Cacao!!

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