Green Cacao: A Selvarey Cacao Rum Cocktail

Green Cacao

When I say Green Cacao, don’t say gesundheit, say God bless you– and enjoy the story of how this sophisticated sipper came to be.

I was recently invited to the Palm Desert Food + Wine Festival. I spend a lot of time in Palm Springs so it was easy to say yes to this invitation.

I’m sure you’ve been to festivals like this, they’re a great way to taste a lot of food from a lot of places without a lot of driving. I was excited to go to the festival because (as regular readers may know) I’ve been a bit tough on Palm Springs restaurants in the past. This festival seemed like a good chance to give a second chance to the desert food scene. I’m pleased to report that in general things are looking up. I particularly liked bites from Tinto (grilled pulpo) and the Buffalo Earth Pie from Chef Deborah Scott of Vintana Wine + Dine. I’ll be checking these venues out more thoroughly when I’m back in Palm Springs next week.

Which brings me to the Green Cacao Rum Cocktail you see tantalizingly pictured here.

My favorite part of the Palm Desert Food + Wine Festival wasn’t the food or even the wine. It was the booze. The Selvarey Rum particularly.

Selvarey Green Cacao Rum Cocktail

Selvarey Rum is just starting its U.S. roll out. This Panamanian rum was developed by Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez, who also worked on the legendary rums Ron Abuelo and Havana Club. While at the Palm Desert Food + Wine Festival I tasted both the Selvarey White and the Selvarey Cacao. Both rums challenged my perception of what rum is, or could be. The White is smooth, clear and mildly viscous with hints of vanilla. This suggests aging and careful filtration, making it ideal for sipping straight up or on the rocks. The Cacao is very elegant, and will defy whatever “party hearty” associations you may have with “flavored” rum. The chocolate notes are mellow and silky. More importantly they’re integrated, rather than slapped on top. They persist long after the sip is savored.

I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous about developing either of these terrific rums into a cocktail. They are so well-suited as a stand alone quaff. Still I am who I am, and who I am is someone who writes recipes. So I decided to use the Selvarey Cacao Rum in an original cocktail because its bold nature and persistent finish is able to stand up to my tendency toward a complex palate.

The Green Cacao cocktail I devised is certainly not shy. Its rich, strong flavors layer with the dry, chocolate notes of the Selvarey rum nicely. I added some green, herbaceous tones with Chartreuse, and a distinctive whiff of peat-smudged smoke. I think the drink retains all the elegance that I enjoyed in this rum as a sipper. It also continues the alcohol forward nature that speaks to those who prefer to slowly sip an assertive drink and lends a savory element to the cocktail.

Which might surprise you. Chocolate may not be the very first flavor you think of when you hear savory. However, chocolate wasn’t always candy. Ancient Aztecs ground this rum’s namesake cacao beans to make a special drink reserved for royalty and the gods. This beverage, known as xocoatl, was a little spicy and not at all sweet. I can’t help but be reminded of this ancient combination when I taste this darkly rich, slightly bitter modern cocktail. The Green Cacao: A Selvarey Cacao Rum cocktail. GREG

Green Cacao: A Selvarey Cocoa Rum Cocktail

Green Cacao Cocktail 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 1Source Inspired by David Wolowidnyk & my book Savory CocktailsPublished
Green Cacao Cocktail


  • ¼ ounce Ardbeg 10yr Islay single malt Scotch whisky
  • 1 ½ ounce Selvarey Cacao Rum
  • ½ ounce Green Chartreuse

  • ½ ounce Cynar
  • 2 dash Miracle Mile chocolate chili bitters


Pour Scotch into a old fashioned glass and “turn” the glass rolling the liquid along the inside until well-coated; pour out the excess. This in known as “rinsing” the glass. Fill the glass with one large or several medium ice cubes. Set aside.

Combine rum, Chartreuse, Cynar & bitters in a mixing glass half-filled with ice. Stir gently until chilled and properly diluted, about 20 seconds. Julep strain into the prepared glass.