Introducing Behind the Bar — a new series from one of our bartenders, Russ. He’ll be taking you behind the scenes of his creative process, offering pro tips and tricks, and sharing new recipes.


The sad truth about all the cupboards out there is that not all ingredients are treated equally. There are always a couple of things unused, forgotten, even downright rejected lying somewhere in the dark corners of the kitchen. Now, with all this time to spend at home, you just might find yourself with the motivation (or maybe just the time...) to delve into the depths of your kitchen and find all those reject ingredients of recipes past. But don't be so quick to toss all those out!

At Art in the Age, we love figuring out new ways to reduce waste in fun and creative ways. Luckily for us quarantined folk, mixing cocktails can be a great way not only to relax but also to utilize some of those quirky ingredients you're tired of seeing on the shelf.

After this week's pantry raid I ended up with some baker's chocolate and a couple of dried Guajillo chili peppers. Already a natural pairing, I knew these would make for an easy Old Fashioned variation. Plus, an Old Fashioned brings with it the comfort and familiarity that so many of us could use right now, so it seemed like the perfect fit!

Since the baker's chocolate is already a bit sweet and fruity, I opted for the Kinsey 4 year rye whiskey because it has a beautiful hint of cinnamon and is overall a bit earthier and drier than bourbon. With the remaining dried peppers, I made a simple syrup, knowing that a viscous syrup would be an effective vehicle for that rich spice.

The combination of rye and dark chocolate results in a sweet, roasted flavor and a creamy texture, while the Guajillo syrup adds the perfect amount of brightness and spice to bring out some of the more savory notes in the whiskey infusion. The almond extract is simply a convenient substitute for bitters; it bolsters the earthy and nutty flavors featured in all of the other ingredients, tying everything together.

Chocolate Whiskey:

Cut the chocolate into small, even squares. In a large jar or sealable container, combine the chocolate and the whiskey. Let sit for 24 hours or until there is enough chocolate flavor to your liking. Fine strain the whiskey and keep indefinitely.

Chili Syrup:

  • 8  oz Water
  • 6 oz Sugar
  • 2-3 Dried Chili Peppers

In a pan, bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, add the peppers, turn heat on low and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the peppers from the pan before adding the sugar. Stir until dissolved. Bottle and keep for approximately three weeks.

Chocolate Chili Old Fashioned:

  • 2 oz Dark Chocolate Infused Kinsey Rye
  • ¼ oz Chili Simple Syrup
  • 2 Drops Almond Extract

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until well chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over a large cube. Garnish with a spare piece of chocolate or, if you are feeling extra creative, a chocolate-covered pretzel! The saltiness from the pretzel makes for a perfect snack to go along with the rich cocktail.