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TCHO New American Chocolate

Q & A with Doug Dalton, founder/co-owner of Cask, Bourbon and Branch

Doug Dalton is the founder and co-owner of Cask, Bourbon and Branch, Swig, and Rickhouse.

We had the good fortune to co-host a few holiday parties with Doug’s awesome team recently. And we fell in love with bourbon paired with our chocolate. See TCHO chocolate & spirit pairings at the end!

1) You were in the technology world originally; what brought you to the spirits world today?
I have always had a passion for great spirits. My family is from Tennessee and Kentucky, so I have always loved Bourbons and Ryes. I have been lucky to meet great distillers who have helped me refine my palate. The way I got into the bar business was I had started a company called that was acquired by Estee Lauder.

During that time I got to go to many club openings and see what people were doing and how they were running things. Most were clubs that were built to flip very quickly, with short life spans. I want to be a part of something lasting that really influences a community. That is what I feel we have done with Cask, Bourbon and Branch, Swig and Rickhouse. We have helped spark the cocktail and mixology culture within San Francisco. At all of our locations, whether though ecommerce, point of sale or web-based commerce systems—we have made technology a key part of our business.

2) How do you think technology affects young people today?
It seems to have made our society one of instant gratification; more and more people expect things and they want them now. Email is considered slow, texts are faster… calling someone is almost unheard of.

3) What are the most exciting developments happening in the spirits industry right now?
The focus away from spirits being a component of a cocktail to them being the cocktail itself is a trend I notice more and more. People are enjoying a great spirit on the rocks.

4) Has the kind of person who drinks spirits changed over time? Is there a geographic difference?
Everything goes through popular phases. People who have tended to shy away from darker spirits are now embracing them. At Rickhouse and Bourbon and Branch we have made many cocktails with ingredients that you wouldn’t expect to help broaden people’s palates.

5) Do you think chocolate works well with specific spirits? If so, which chocolates work best with which spirits?
Chocolates work well with almost any spirit, I was surprised at how well TCHO worked with almost every bourbon or rye I tried.

6) What other foods do you think work best with bourbon, specifically?
Bourbon works well with almost anything but what I dont think people try enough is cooking with bourbon. It can add a complexity and smoked flavor to almost any food.

7) Which of your projects are you most excited about right now?
Cask just recently partnered with Williams-Sonoma and we are very excited about working with them in the future.

8) What do you think you’ll be doing 10 years from now?
I hope the same things; using my love for technology and the spirit world to create something that is unique and exciting for my customers. ********************************************************************************************TCHO Chocolate & Spirit Pairings:
TCHO “Citrus” Chocolate with High West Rendezvous (actually a rye)
TCHO “Fruity” Chocolate with Black Maple Hill Small Batch or Noah’s Mill
TCHO “Nutty” Chocolate with Pure Kentucky

Experiment yourself — and let us know if you have other recommendations! We would love to hear them.