Liquor + Chocolate Hand-in-Hand in the Big Apple


cacao prieto

Chocolate and liquor are probably not the first things that come to mind when you think of healthy food and drink. Additionally, they’re not typically two items you imagine pairing together; however, at Brooklyn’s Cacao Prieto, single origin Dominican cacao and antioxidant-rich spirits are served side-by-side and sometimes intermixed.

“Cacao Prieto is a crucial meeting place of ideas, of traditions, of dreams and technology,” explains Mike Dirksen, Director of Sales. “It is a place where the creation of delicious chocolate and liquor resonates with an idealistic sense of purpose stating that making one thing the right way might just makes the world a better place.”

As the name states, cacao — the main ingredient of chocolate — is a major focus of Cacao Prieto. Their chocolate is 72% Dark, which is surprisingly not bitter due to their Vortex Winnower, a machine developed by Aerospace Engineer owner Daniel Prieto Preston to better separate sweet nibs from bitter shells. Additionally, because the beans aren’t fumigated the chocolate is one of the only 100% Pesticide-free chocolate bars on the market. Their liquor is also innovative, especially as they’re kept at 80 proof (40% alcohol) — twice as high as the average liqueur. This makes for an excellent liquor for cocktail-making as it doesn’t dilute the drink.

One of Cacao Prieto’s most innovative drink offerings is their Widow Jane Single Expression Heirloom Bourbon Whiskies. First of all, they source their water from the Widow Jane Mine in Rosendale, New York, which has an exceptionally high concentration of beneficial minerals. Furthermore, while the main ingredient in bourbon is typically corn, most distilleries use a genetically-modified “yellow” corn. Cacao Prieto, on the other hand, researched a variety of different corns, focusing on pure ancient grains.

Says Dirksen, “We invested in our own fields, treating them like vineyards, growing and harvesting the different varietals apart so we could then ferment and distill them individually, creating three completely new, unique, and delicious bourbons; The Wapsie Valley, The Bloody Butcher, and the Bloody Butcher “High Rye”, as well as some others we’ve not yet released.”

While you may have heard dark chocolate has certain health benefits — like being good for your heart, improving cognitive function and being full of free radical-fight antioxidants — these advantages are also present in Cacao Prieto’s liquors. This is because their distilling process is unique in that it incorporates the antioxidants from their raw organic cacao. Sample their Don Rafael Cacao Rum made with delicious flavors of pure chocolate and coffee, or their Don Estaban Cacao Liqueur featuring tastes of dark chocolate, toffee, vanilla bean, toasted marshmallow and pepper.

And for those interested in sustainability, Prieto Preston continues his out-of-the-box thinking as he is currently designing a brand new carbon neutral — and possibly even carbon negative — production facility.

Top photo credit: Photo courtesy of Cacao Prieto.

This post originally appeared on Drive the District.


Jessica Festa
Jessica Festa is the editor of the travel sites Jessie on a Journey ( and Epicure & Culture ( Along with blogging at We Blog The World, her byline has appeared in publications like Huffington Post, Gadling, Fodor's, Travel + Escape, Matador, Viator, The Culture-Ist and many others. After getting her BA/MA in Communication from the State University of New York at Albany, she realized she wasn't really to stop backpacking and made travel her full time job. Some of her most memorable experiences include studying abroad in Sydney, teaching English in Thailand, doing orphanage work in Ghana, hiking her way through South America and traveling solo through Europe. She has a passion for backpacking, adventure, hiking, wine and getting off the beaten path.
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