Cocktails to garden parties, afternoon tea to taking in the tennis – here are our favourite ways to while away long, lazy days…
Here comes the sun! Whether your diary is wide open or you’ve got get-togethers every weekend until the leaves change, make the most of the great British summer – while it lasts! – with our 10 must-dos for when the weather’s on the warm side.
1. Cocktails on the verandah
This is the easiest summer cocktail you’ll ever make – and you don’t have to amass your own private bar to do it! Simply pour a measure of our Cocoa Gin, add a splash of Cocoa Bitters, top up with lemonade and garnish with cucumber for a tipple that was made for balmy evenings with friends. If even that sounds like too much trouble in the heat, just pour our Salted Caramel Vodka over ice cream – trust us, even if you’re not a vodka drinker, this works. Or, even simpler: take a box of our Cocktails-to-chill from the fridge and hand round refreshing little bites of Passion Fruit Margarita, Moscow Mule, Mojito and Grapefruit Gin & Tonic, all served in our high-cocoa chocolate…
2. Afternoon tea for two
Friend coming to stay for a couple of days? Mum hinting that she hasn’t seen you in a while? In summer we throw open the doors to the terrace at Rabot 1745, London and set out our chairs outside Roast+Conch, Leeds for al fresco afternoon tea. Our take on the traditional British repast comes with a Caribbean – and cacao – twist: think rare beef and white chocolate horseradish sandwiches, chocolate and orange scones with cocoa whip and a white chocolate and ginger spiced biscuit with rhubarb cheesecake and Prosecco jelly. In Leeds you’ll take yours over a spot of people-watching among the hustle and bustle of Boar Lane, while in London you’ll overlook the historic Borough Market – and the apartment of one Bridget Jones.
3. Cheesecake Day
The idea of combining two of our favourite things – cheese and cake – is apparently so essential to humanity’s wellbeing that it’s been around since the ancient Greeks. The only way to improve on something this perfect? Add our most favourite thing – chocolate – and an excuse to tuck in: National Cheesecake Day on 30th July. Get ready ahead of time with our Caramel, Lemon and Strawberry Cheesecake Selectors – at only £3.15 each when you buy 3 or more, it would be rude not to try every flavour…
4. Garden party
Is there anything more British than swanning round a lawn in your Sunday best? Get all dressed up, open a bottle of Prosecco Superiore DOCG and lay on a spread for your nearest and dearest. We’re thinking salmon and white chocolate horseradish open sandwiches, roasted rainbow vegetable salad with Puy lentils and goat’s cheese and a pitcher of ginger fizz or pretty pink – all recipes you’ll find in your trusty copy of A New Way of Cooking with Chocolate . The centrepiece of your day? Our Chocs-to-chill Sleekster for fruity refreshment or the Summer Desserts box for a selection of elegant patisserie, smoothie, cheesecake, aperitif and classic pudding recipes. Simply delightful, wot?
5. Make a chocolate bar
Whether you’re a baker, chef or crafter at heart, you’ll love trying your hand at something new with a 90-minute Bean to Bar session at one of our Schools of Chocolate . As you grind down your cocoa beans to make cocoa butter, you’ll learn what happened to the sweet pulp of the cocoa pod as the beans were fermented and dried, and what difference it made to roast them. By the time you’ve made your own bar and finished your glass of Prosecco, you’ll have discovered the importance of ‘conching’, tried your hand at the art of ‘tempering’ and brought a precision touch to hand-piping – and we’ll send you home with a goodie bag too!
6. Going for gold
Afternoon of ‘ready, set, go!’ on the calendar? Cheer on our sporting greats over a Cocoa Beer or Pale Cocoa Beer . Prefer to enjoy your sports over a cup of tea? Make your viewing an event with our Chocolate Biscuit Tin , brimming with eminently dunkable Milk Chocolate Shortbread Biscuits, Salted Caramel Shortbread Cookies, Nut & Nib Shortbread Biscuits, Choc Chip Nano Slabs, Cookie Crème Nano Slabs and Brownie Nano Slabs. We recommend treating yourself for every medal we win – or, y’know, come really close to winning…
7. Shopping in the sunshine
Holiday shopping with your other half? Set down your bags and recharge for a moment with an Iced Frappe at your nearest Hotel Chocolat café . As the great British summer gets into full swing, we’re serving three of your favourite flavours over ice: Classic Chocolat, White Chocolat and Salted Caramel Brownie – with real brownie pieces! Something to see you through the afternoon? Tuck one of our brownies into your handbag for later.
8. Take in the tennis
Whether you’re in London supporting Andy Murray in person or at home jumping out of your seat at every advantage, update your traditional tennis-viewing fare with our Strawberries & Cream Chocolate Puddles : tangy strawberry paired with luscious high-cocoa white chocolate. Anyone for a puddle every time he hits an ace? Alright, every time he serves!
9. Taste chocolate like a pro
Ever tried to explain how that chocolate you just tried tastes? Wondered what it is you love about your favourites? Allow our chocolatiers to impart some expertise as you nibble your way through 90 minutes at a School of Chocolate Tasting Adventure . Glass of Prosecco in hand, you’ll learn how and when to taste chocolate, what to look for and which factors affect flavour and texture. Was the ‘terroir’ the source of those woody notes? Could the dull appearance of the bar you left in your car have something to do with ‘tempering’? Our expert chocolatiers will even furnish you with a goodie bag to take home – an essential aide memoire, we’re sure you’ll agree!
10. Jet off to paradise
Mountains, rainforest, swaying cocoa trees and chocolate, chocolate, chocolate – if, like us, all that sounds like your idea of paradise, fly away with your sweetheart to the Boucan hotel in Saint Lucia. Nestled among the cocoa groves on Hotel Chocolat’s own plantation, Rabot Estate, the hotel sits 1,000 feet above the Caribbean Sea, overlooking the majestic Piton Mountains. Décor is inspired by luxurious plantation chic, while the restaurant serves innovative cacao cuisine, which uses the bean as a subtle spice and a delicate infusion as well as the rich, deep heart of desserts. Guests lay their heads in one of six Lodges or eight larger Luxe Lodges, which are perfectly positioned to catch the cooling tropical breezes that waft across the 140-acre estate. And relax…
Join in on Twitter
How many of our 10 things have you tried so far? Tweet us your photos at @HotelChocolat this summer.