I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I headed over to Crazy Tomato Grill for a Salted Chocolate Pretzel Martini.
Would there be pretzels in the cocktail? Would it be rich and chocolately? What about the salt?
What kind of salt, and how much?
The quick answer is that this creamy, smooth concoction tastes a lot like a hot fudge sundae with vanilla ice cream. With a salted chocolate rim.
It’s one of those deceptive cocktails that could lull you into a false sense of, “Hey, this is an ice cream sundae. I can still drive.” Just like an ice cream sundae, you’ll want to keep it to one. There’s alcohol, of course, and with real dairy cream as a main ingredient, there are a few calories in this sweet treat.
Bartender Justin Gruber expertly whipped up a Salted Chocolate Pretzel Martini at Crazy Tomato Grill. He admitted that he didn’t know who invented this drink. But he had mastered the technique with bartending prowess. The first step is to chill a short-stem martini glass. In a stainless steel shaker, he mixes three parts heavy cream, Frangelico and vanilla vodka. Frangelico, by the way, is an Italian hazelnut liqueur that comes in a bottle that looks a bit like Mrs. Butterworth syrup. It’s got a deep golden hue, with hazelnut and vanilla aromas. It’s full of nuttiness, with a mild sweetness.
In fact, the Frangelico might be the closest thing in this cocktail to resemble the flavor of pretzels. There are not actually any pretzels in this Salted Chocolate Pretzel Martini. There is salt, however. Pretzel salt.
After Gruber shakes the cocktail until it’s nice and frothy, he deftly prepares the chilled glass. Here’s where he gets artistic. He dips the rim of the cocktail glass in chocolate syrup, then coats it with the kind of extra coarse salt that you find on pretzels. Working quickly, he drizzles chocolate syrup at the bottom of the glass, then decorates the sides with curlicues of chocolate syrup. One more quick shake of the creamy cocktail mixture, and he pours it into the glass. A few swirls of chocolate syrup top it off.
“It’s not a cocktail that you can make slowly,” says Justin.
True – in a moment the chocolate swirl began to sink into the creamy froth. Better drink up before it starts to shape-shift.
At first sip, it’s a bit like a nutty vanilla milkshake. Or maybe a vanilla ice cream soda with chocolate. Or a chocolate sundae, with vanilla ice cream and hazelnuts, that has started to melt. You would have no idea that there are two alcohols in this ice cream parlor cocktail. But there are.
A cousin to the Salted Chocolate Pretzel Martini is the Nuts & Berries Cocktail at Crazy Tomato. It’s basically the same recipe, with two exceptions. No chocolate, and no salt. The Nuts & Berries combines heavy cream, Frangelico and raspberry flavored Chambord liqueur. There’s no salted rim. Instead, you get a raspberry straw. It’s always hard to come up with a good food pairing for a creamy cocktail. But if you think of it as a milkshake, all sorts of possibilities come to mind. Not the least of which is a burger and fries. They even have a burger on a pretzel roll. Perfect.
If you want a fancier burger for this ice cream sundae cocktail, there’s the Wagyu burger with smoked Gouda and caramelized onions on a brioche bun. Even more perfect.
Crazy Tomato is home of the Pretzel-boli, a stromboli made with pretzel dough instead of pizza dough, filled with meats and cheeses. The pretzel cheese curds seem to keep the dairy and pretzel theme going for another option.
Oh, and here’s a tip for finding the Crazy Tomato Grill. Take the Centerville Road exit off Route 30, and head south. Turn right onto Hempland Road and take a quick right onto the driveway next to Bob Evans. It’s basically behind Bob Evans. It’s easy to miss.
Crazy Tomato Grill
380 Centerville Rd, Lancaster