If you know of Michael Cirino, it’s doubtless for his peripatetic dinner series, "a razor, a shiny knife." But if the avid supper-clubber hasn’t been hosting as many meals lately, it’s because he’s been busy with something else: his new chocolate (and soon to-be) liquor company, Cacao Prieto, which will tomorrow launch a pop-up to sell chocolate bars and bonbons inside the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory in Brooklyn Heights.
Cirino’s business partner is Daniel Preston (his original, un-anglicized family name is Prieto), and it was the latter who first dreamed up the enterprise. Preston wanted to revive a onetime cacao plantation his family owns in the Dominican Republic and grow the beans for making chocolate liqueur, and (since he was already at it) solid chocolate bars and bonbons. Cirino’s help was enlisted, and the two of them got to work outfitting a 7,000-square-foot Red Hook factory with chocolate-processing machines (they were able to get many of the vintage ones used in San Francisco’s disused Scharffen Berger facility) and experimenting with various recipes.
When the production license for the distillery portion comes through, Cirino says the duo’s "primary focus" will be spirits. Not only will they debut their Cacao Prieto signature chocolate rum ("we add a little sugar, so technically it’s a liqueur," he says), they’ll be able to experiment with "the interesting things in our heads," says Cirino, and "hopefully partner up with mixologists in the city to solve some of their needs." By the time the pop-up shop’s run is over, at the end of April, the duo hopes to debut their first New York store, in Dumbo, with two Manhattan shops to follow in quick succession. Cirino estimates that a store at the factory probably will be ready in July or August.
For now, the pair has developed a number of solid-chocolate treats that will be on offer at the pop-up Sunday through Thursday from noon to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 11 p.m. There are bars ($5 to 8 apiece) in 65 percent, 66 percent, and 72 percent couvertures, with varieties like Pop Rocks and hazelnut-raisin, as well as bonbons in flavors such as orange-bergamot and dark-chocolate ganache for $2 to $4 each. But don’t take our word for it, see the chocolates and the factory for yourself in our slideshow.
Cacao Prieto Pop-up, inside the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, 1 Water St., nr. Old Fulton St.; 718-246-3963
Related: Pop-up City