On the Chocolate Trail: The Elizabeth Taylor Special, the Chocolatini

Published by Tuesday, February 14, 2012 Permalink 1
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by Christina Daub

Who invented the chocolatini?

With all we remember about chocolatini, her legendary eyes and films and husbands and tireless efforts on the behalf of AIDS victims, the Hollywood queen was also, by the way, an icon of the chocolate world.

In 1953, her face sold Whitman’s chocolates ads for Valentine’s that year. In 1955, she and Rock Hudson invented the Senator John Warner, a concoction of vodka, Kahlua and Hershey’s syrup after working long hours on the set of Giant in Marfa, TX. Taylor proclaimed it “the best drink I ever tasted.”

But my favorite Taylor contribution to the chocolate world was one you could order just five blocks from the White House. During her marriage to National Velvet, she frequented the show restaurant in Washington DC, Dominique’s. It may not have had the best food in town, but its patrons attracted attention like no one else and people went to see and be seen. Autographed photographs of Ted Kennedy and Tony Bennett, Robert Redford and others glammed the walls while exotic mounted animals, an alligator, a lion and several other large creatures loomed near diners craning their necks between bites.

I don’t remember what I ate for dinner at Dominique’s since already in those days, my sole focus was on dessert. And the Elizabeth Taylor Special was as extravagant as she was. I ordered it every time.

It looked heavenly, a large cloud of whipped cream, but inside this cumulus pouf hovering on the signature Dominique plate, were the real jewels: five chocolate truffles, brown diamonds every one.

Dominique’s no longer exists having been sold by its original owner in 1987, but that dessert will float on in my memory more than Cleopatra, poet or any other work Liz Taylor graced with her fierce talent and jaw-dropping beauty.


On The Chocolate Trail: Christina Daub is an American The Poet’s Cookbook who has spent her life traveling around the world in search of great chocolate. She is also the editor of the Food Poetry section. Published in The Poet’s Cookbook series, she has work in the first volume, which included poems and recipes from Tuscany (in English and Italian), and the second (in German and English), published by the Goethe Institute. She teaches creative writing at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.



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  • Maureen
    March 26, 2011

    I’m old enough to remember Elizabeth Taylor when she was in her prime. (yeah that makes me old, I know) Those lavender eyes got me every time. I used to look in the mirror as a teenager and lament that I had ugly brown eyes.

    The chocolatini sounds yummy. Maybe two would be better.

    • Tina
      March 28, 2011

      Nothing better than chocolate-colored eyes in my humble opinion.

    • Tina
      March 28, 2011

      Two would be better. For comparison’s sake, of course…

  • Tina
    March 28, 2011

    Alternative Recipe for a Chocolatini

    Rim glass in cocoa powder or if you prefer sweeter, add some icing sugar to the cocoa first.

    In a martini shaker, shake together one shot Smirnoff vanilla vodka and a shot of Godiva chocolate liquer over ice. Stir in 2 shots of cream and cocoa powder to taste. Shake quickly and strain into martini glass.

  • Tina
    March 28, 2011

    You can also use plain vodka and add Bailey’s Irish Creme to it and use creme de cacao instead of Godiva.

    Garnish with dark chocolate shavings for some added pizazz.

  • Tina
    March 28, 2011

    A friend in Bethesda just asked about recipe for the Liz Taylor Special. All you do is place your favorite truffles artfully on your plate–and if you want to buy them, instead of make them, I suggest you get the Budapest truffles at Kron in DC and then cover them completely with whipped cream.

    You might try sweetening the whipped cream with a splash of Grand Marnier and a sprinkling of sugar. This is an irresistible combination with the dark sumptuous truffles.

  • Tim Rise
    March 28, 2011

    I knew Elizabeth Taylor and always admired her, met her many times over the course of 30 years, and I never knew she’d endorsed Whitman’s chocolates…nor that she’d invented the chocolatini with Rock Hudson. Bravo, Miss Daub for these bits of trivia that are almost as delectable as the “Elizabeth Taylor Special” truly sounds!

    • Tina
      April 1, 2011

      Thank you. She once said she and Rock Hudson used to stay up all night while filming Giant, talking and drinking…although I wonder how many of those chocolate martinis they could have consumed before having to work a full day on the set the next day.

      • Tim Rise
        April 2, 2011

        Elizabeth was famous for her ‘hollow leg’ which allowed her to consume vast quantities of alcohol without aparent effect although clearly when paired with that world-class drinker, Richard Burton, plenty of havoc could indeed be caused!

  • Anonymous
    March 28, 2011

    I <3 chocolate :] They should make a movie out of this.

    • Tina
      April 1, 2011

      LOL. With all the aforementioned chocolate treats available in the lobby…and plenty of intermissions.
      Thanks, Anonymous!

  • Anna
    March 29, 2011

    Awesome! Elizabeth Taylor and her chocolate legacy. I did not know. She will be remembered with stars, and chocolate diamond hearts.
    But now I want to experiment with fancy chocolate cocktails!

    • Tina
      April 1, 2011

      Thanks. Let me know how they come out.
      How about a chocolatini poured over vanilla ice cream?

  • Fred Schroeder
    April 4, 2011

    Kudos to Tina Daub for revealing this sweet and chocolatey side of Elizabeth Taylor. My favorite Elizabeth Taylor performance is her not-at-all-sweet, superbly played role of Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, a film that was released in 1966 on June 22, which happens to be National Chocolate Eclair Day. Tina, could you guide us to some sources of really good chocolate eclairs this side of the Atlantic?

    Thanks for your contributions to chocolate knowledge.


  • Stephanie Post
    April 11, 2011

    Thanks for posting a link back to my blog! The story of the chocolatini is one of the few she shared about Rock Hudson, who was a lifelong friend of hers up to his death. One of the things that broke my heart the most when she died was that she never gave an interview specifically about her friendship with Rock. So many other stories, like this one, died with her.

    The lady certainly led a full and interesting life.

    • Christina Daub
      April 11, 2011

      Stephanie, you are so welcome. I was delighted to discover your blog when doing the research for this article. While I agree it’s a shame she wasn’t interviewed re: her friendship with Rock Hudson, I always assumed her dedicated and courageous work on the behalf of AIDS victims was inspired by the deep compassion she had for him. Surely others thought this as well….

      By the way Liz’s diaries are going to be published soon, so stay tuned.

  • Catherine Jones
    May 8, 2011

    You’ve inspired me: Bailey’s,kahlua, cream, & shaved dark chocolate.

  • Maria Luise
    May 8, 2011

    I just noticed this website by accident and Tina Daub’s superb, article, historically well informed and written with gusto, will ensure that from now on I’ll check it out regularly.

    Maria Luisel

  • Tina
    May 11, 2011

    Thank you Maria Luisel. Look forward to meeting you here.

  • yumyumfoodrecipes.com
    June 8, 2011

    You have nice articles… LOve it!

    • Jonell Galloway
      June 8, 2011

      Thanks so much. We work very hard to provide good information about food around the world.