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Chef Christian Irabien Explores Chocolate Notes in Mole and Scotch

This feature was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and Pernod Ricard USA. Vox Media editorial staff was not involved in the creation or production of this content.

The Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso is bottled and released in small batches, and it has a smooth and fruity taste with hints of rich dark chocolate. We’ve asked some notable chefs to prepare dishes that complement different versions of The Glenlivet. Here, Bay Area chef Christian Irabien works with the chocolate notes in The Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso.

Chef Christian Irabien likes changing people’s perceptions, too. He doesn’t do it with gimmicks or special effects but with authentic experiences that transport diners to new parts of the world. And while most Americans think they know Mexican food, their ideas have been heavily colored by the ubiquity of Tex-Mex, the hybridized cuisine that is primarily a creation of the United States. But Irabien’s version of contemporary Mexican cuisine, refined across the bay in Oakland, isn’t some American update or reinterpretation.


"It’s traditional but presented in a brand new way — it’s modernized," he says. He’s also open to unorthodox combinations, like pairing Mexico’s iconic mole sauce, another kind of delicious chocolate and spices, with scotch. "We cook the kind of food that people in big cities in Mexico are eating today," he says. He showcases Mexican food as a dynamic, evolving cuisine built on a strong foundation of tradition and local ingredients. 

Mole sauce is one such food where tradition and reinvention come together. One of the most distinctive and revered flavor profiles in Mexican food, mole uses chocolate combined with an almost infinite number of savory spices. Irabien often pairs mezcal, a Mexican spirit distilled from agave, with mole dishes, and he noted a similar affinity between The Glenlivet and chocolate.

"When I drink the scotch, it’s very smooth and balanced," he says. The earthy richness and complex chocolate flavors of the mole paired with scotch gives people a new view of the spirit. "When you expose people to new things, it changes that perception," he says. "It happens here all the time."

For his version of mole poblano, Irabien uses a specially sourced Mexican chocolate, with 75 percent cocoa, combined with spices. The mole requires three days of cooking, and then he ladles it over chicken and arroz verde, rice flavored with peppers, cilantro, and other herbs. "This meal reminds me of dinner at my parents’ house," he says. "It’s beautiful."


To learn more about The Glenlivet portfolio, visit theglenlivet.com.  Remember to enjoy responsibly.

This feature was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and Pernod Ricard USA. Vox Media editorial staff was not involved in the creation or production of this content.


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