We love chocolate at AntiquityNOW. One of the first blog posts we published was about the history of chocolate (Hot Chocolate: Gift of the Gods Since 1900 BCE), so it shouldn’t be surprising that given the chance to bring you another chocolate recipe we jumped for joy! This holiday season, look no further for the drink that will delight your guests and make you the talk of the party scene: Cacao Wine from ancient Honduras. You can either buy some from Dogfish Head breweries (it is in limited release and may be difficult to find) or tackle the adventure of making your own batch with the recipe below.
Long before humans were making chocolate sauce and chocolate candies, they were making cacao wine. In fact, the fermented drink was the motivation for domesticating the cacao plant. In order to capture the cacao beans inside the pod, the fruit was first allowed to ferment around the bean. The fermented fruit became a drink with an alcohol content similar to modern beer. “The earliest evidence for this cacao-based wine comes from chemical analysis of pottery fragments recovered at the Puerto Escondido site in Honduras dating to as early as 1400 B.C.” Eventually, the Mesoamericans turned to the cacao beans alone for their beverages, realizing they could combine the crushed beans with water and other spices and allow that drink to ferment in order to enjoy an even more appetizing cacao wine.
The recipe below attempts to resurrect an Aztec version of this ancient chocolate spirit. While it may seem easier to track down some Theobrama from Dogfish Head, we encourage you to try your hand at making your own drink!
*Recipe adapted from Epic Curiosity.
- 2 lbs Agave nectar
- 4 ounces of cacao nibs
- 1 serrano chile
- Red star pasteur champagne yeast
- 2-3 ounces of annato
- Heat about 12 cups of water up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. While the water is heating, prepare the other ingredients.
- Stem, seed, and chop the serrano chile into large pieces.
- Take two ounces of the cacao nibs and work thoroughly with pestle and mortar.
- Mix the chile, ground cacao, and agave into the water and hold at 150 degrees for 15 minutes.
- Allow the liquid to cool, remove the chile pieces, and transfer the liquid to a gallon carboy.
- Put a pinch of Red star pasteur champagne yeast into the carboy.
- Allow to ferment for two weeks.
- Tear up seven mint leaves and add it to the fermented liquid.
- Allow the drink to ferment for another 24 hours.
- Grind the annatto to a fine powder and add it to the drink.
- Strain the wine into a large pot.
- Grind the remaining cacao nibs into a very find powder and mix it into the drink.
- Pour the wine into two 2 liter growlers and place the growlers into a pot of water. Cover the pots and gradually heat the water. Once the internal temperature of the growlers reaches 165 degrees, hold it there for 15 seconds.
- Cool the wine, seal the growlers, and place them in a fridge.
- After several days, take out your growlers and sample your wine!
 Brewing with Chocolate: Aztec Cacao Wine. (2014, May 24). Retrieved November 27, 2015, from http://epic-curiousity.com/2014/05/brewing-chocolate-aztec-cacao-wine.html
 Cheers! Eight ancient drinks uncorked by science. (2009, December 15). Retrieved November 27, 2015, from http://www.nbcnews.com/id/34435526/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/cheers-eight-ancient-drinks-uncorked-science/#.VljVVfmrSM8