Danny it’s been a year since we met at the Oscars in LA last year and I’m delighted to see Bouvery going from strength to strength…
Can you talk us through the concept of Bouvery, which is definitely not just a chocolate vodka.
Nov 1999 – I was intrigued with the chocolate shots I tasted after a Sunday evening dinner and drinks with friends at a local bar in Notting-Hill. The bartender explained the shots served from the mini-freezer in Absolut vodka bottles were made by macerating Mars or Snicker bars, kind of a variant to the skittles concept. Being a budding chef, I decided to give this a go using vodka and Belgium chocolate, my aunt lives in Liege Belgium, no need to tell you how much chocolate I’ve consumed over the years. After a few attempts I managed to make something half-decent, this was far more complicated than I had imagined, especially if you’re as fussy as me. After I had mixed all the ingredients, I would refrigerate the concoction for a day and then skimmed off the fat from the top and strain the liquid. This was repeated 2 more times to get the smoothest silkiest chocolate pour you could imagine, it was also quite boozy, probably around 30 abv / 60 proof, friends became willing guinea pigs and Danny’s chocolate vodka was born.
After numerous attempts to figure out how to make the drink commercial, in 2011 I was introduced through a friend of a friend to an industry famous flavorist. He tasted the drink and asked what was my time frame to crack this nut, I had no idea. So we embark on a 5 year journey of monthly (or so) samples that Anabela, my wife to be and I would taste and send back comments to the flavor house. The first few years the samples were very much like the Baileys and Godiva cream liqueurs made today, we all agreed this did not taste like my moonshine version. Taste, smell, viscosity and color were the major factors we marked against. Anabela, like me looked forward to our sample packages, and each sample bottle has been kept in 3 boxes for prosperity. We had a few near misses where we thought we were getting closer but then the next adjustment set us back again, I began to realize my moonshine kitchen complexities were nothing like the real world of flavors where any change could return you back to the drawing board.
Finally in December 2015 we submitted the formula to the TTB (US federal approval). After a couple of nervous months and almost 5 years of R&D, we had our approval in Feb 2016, everyone breathed a sign of relief. The label approval was received in July 2016 and then followed months of checking all the loose ends with the materials and production equipment.
Since we launched the officially in Sept 2017, we’ve changed our description to a chocolate Liqueur. This is much more in-line with what we are and helps elevate us from a flavored vodka to the real deal best in class chocolate liqueur out there. I’d happily say best in the world.
You’re a Britbased in LA, how different are the 2 drinking cultures in the UK and US?
That’s a great question, firstly although we met in LA I’ve been based in New York for 19 years. Still sounds strange saying that I’ve been in the US that long. The most obvious difference is the access to booze here, meaning bar opening times are much later in the US. There is no ‘I must rush out of work at 5pm to the pub and drink till 11pm’. This makes for a steadier drinking crowd that I’ve rarely seen OTP. I believe similar to the UK, there’s a big beer culture in America, followed by wines and cocktails. I was over for London cocktail week in October 2018 and really impressed with the calibre and quality of the cocktail scene.
You’re now on your 5th batch of Bouvery, have you made any modifications to the product since 2017?
Although no modifications have been made, each batch is unique. Since we use high quality cacao, you may notice a slight difference in chocolate intensity between batches, this depends on the harvest each batch uses. There’s also the aging process. Each batch is aged for a minimum of 2 months before being shipped, this helps smooth out the flavors, so you taste a perfectly balanced liqueur. In essence it’s like a red wine as the liqueur continues to age and change slightly in the bottle. The beauty of drinking a high-quality liqueur.
Is it true you can make hot choc with Bouvery?
Absolutely you can, there’s a big demand for boozy hot drinks, we see this as the perfect après-ski drink too. Here’s our online mocha recipe, feel free to recreate or elaborate on, e.g. making the froth boozy too.
BCV Hot Chocolate:
- 5 oz BCV
- 4 oz coffee
- 5oz Grand Marnier
- 2 oz Milk (Hot)
I am delighted to see the product is gluten free as I can’t tolerate gluten…any plans for a dairy free batch?
Another great question. We do have the option to remove the dairy and replace with a non-dairy alternative, testing begins later this year for the vegan friendly version..
Thanks so much Danny