It doesn’t look like a den of controversy. In fact, up front, Dilettante Chocolate’s new North Broadway digs are more like every kid’s cocoa-dusted fantasy: mocha-hued walls and sparkly tile floors, an audible whoosh as servers snowcap hot-fudge sundaes with mounds of whipped cream. But just to the right of the truffle-lined bakery cases—in the adults-only bar—Dilettante is quietly mixing what might be the most audacious concoction in town: the chocolate beer.
We’re not talking about some microbrewery stout that boasts a hint of cocoa flavor. Rather, it is a mug of beer—of frothy liquid perfection—with chocolate sauce poured into it. The very stuff children use to mask the milky flavor of milk. Who would do this to beer?
That question led me to Dilettante founder Dana Davenport, a third-generation chocolatier who currently works as the company’s development director. Davenport has seen Dilettante expand from small truffle business to confection wholesaler and local cafÈ chain. But he always dreamed of opening a chocolate-centric cocktail lounge. Late last year, it happened: Dilettante procured a liquor license and moved its Broadway-based cafच up the street to the Brix building. They’re now serving eight distinct martinis featuring Davenport’s Ephemere sauce—a heavy cream and chocolate mixture that, he assures me, lends any drink a rich, truffly flavor without the characteristic sugar rush of most syrupy mixers.
Still, when the moment came, I had to look away as the bartender began squirting a stream of dark goo into my hefeweizen. Tasting it, though, I was surprised to find the hefe had retained its wheaty, citrusy flavors. Only in the finish did the sweet sauce become pronounced. Drinking Dilettante’s chocolate beer, it turned out, was like taking a swig of brewsky and then biting into a square of dark chocolate. Not unpleasant, but unlikely to change beer as we know it. And thank goodness for that.
Dilettante Mocha Martini Bar, 538 Broadway E, Capitol Hill, 206-329-6463; www.dilettante.com