A sweet answer to a simple question at Club Escapade

Ahome away from home, Club Escapade in Belleville is the kind of place where bartender Bobbi Nix will gladly create a drink for an inquisitive regular, such as this month’s cocktail, the Chocolate-Covered Cherry.

Nix said the drink came about when a patron noticed a bottle of Three Olives chocolate vodka behind the bar and “wanted to know what you could do with chocolate vodka.” So Nix poured a shot over ice in a tall rocks glass, added Coca-Cola and Rose’s grenadine and garnished the drink with an orange wedge, which is optional, and a cherry. “If you want to make it fancy,” added Rick Hembree, who co-owns the bar with Harold Schwartz, you can add a powdered-sugar rim and – my favorite garnish of all – a cocktail umbrella.

Three Olives vodka is an English super-premium wheat vodka, quadruple-distilled and quadruple-filtered in small batches, using a 300-year-old recipe. Multiple distillations, which separate the alcohol from other liquids, lead to a higher alcohol content and greater purity, which means less flavor. The distillate is then filtered to remove any lingering impurities.

Heavily distilled and filtered vodkas make a perfect base for adding flavors, and Three Olives comes in nine of them, including chocolate, which has a slightly dusty flavor reminiscent of scratch-and-sniff stickers; it tastes better than it sounds. The Three Olives Web site offers a recipe for a different Chocolate-Covered Cherry, a martini made with chocolate and cherry vodkas and white crème de cacao, but that version doesn’t specify an umbrella option.

Despite the common use of Rose’s grenadine syrup as a cherry flavoring, the syrup is actually flavored with pomegranates, but you’d never know in the Chocolate-Covered Cherry. The cocktail is not quite as sweet as a Cherry Coke and appeals to those who don’t like sweet drinks, as well as to those who do. Other than the chocolate, you can’t really taste the alcohol, making it a good choice for fans of, well, vodka drinks, but it has all the kick of a highball. Be sure to ask for the orange wedge if you’re a true candy fan; if you squeeze the orange into the drink, it tastes like a
Tootsie Roll.

Stop by Club Escapade for a Chocolate-Covered Cherry on June 24, when the nightspot will host a pride party commemorating the anniversary of the New York protest that sparked the modern gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender political movement. If you’re not in the mood for a candy-like cocktail, have Nix or the other bartender, Sonny Pitts – who is, according to Hembree, “a legend in Belleville” – create a drink you can both be proud of.

And if you’re not quite ready to come out publicly in support of gay and lesbian pride month, you can enjoy the Chocolate-Covered Cherry at home (in your closet, if need be), as all the ingredients are available at stores, including the all-important umbrella.