The Dominican Republic probably isn’t one of the first countries that springs to mind when you think of places famous for chocolate, and a Dominican aerospace engineer probably isn’t the person you’d expect to found an organic chocolate company. But, unlikely as it may sound, that’s the story behind one of Red Hook’s best kept secrets: Cacao Prieto, an artisan distillery that produces bean-to-bar chocolate made fresh daily from the finest organic, single origin Dominican Cacao.
Housed in a massive factory near the Red Hook waterfront, Cacao Prieto is the brainchild of inventor Daniel Prieto Preston, whose family has been farming organic cacao in DR for over a century. Unbeknownst to many, DR has been a hub for organic cacao cultivation ever since Spanish colonizers brought the beans they had sampled from the Aztec and Maya people to the rest of their empire. In fact, according to Listín Diario, one of DR’s leading newspapers, “Today while only 1.4% of the world’s cacao is Dominican, this represents more than 70% of the world’s supply of organic cacao.”
Merging his family’s legacy with his background as an aerospace engineer, Daniel Prieto Preston created a state of the art chocolate company where tradition and innovation can meet. He has developed several custom-made machines for the factory to expedite the process of roasting, cracking and winnowing the cacao beans — including a custom made vortex winnower that automates the process of separating the nibs of cacao beans (aka the yummy part) from the husk. This sets them apart from some of Brooklyn’s other beans-to-bar establishments, including Williamsburg’s Mast Brother’s Chocolate, where the winnowing process has to be done by hand.
Once this process is finished, the beans are crushed and sweetened with a variety of ingredients — including organic sugars imported from the Dominican Republic.
Chocolates and bonbons aren’t all Cacao Prieto has to offer — there’s also plenty of boozy treats. In addition to their own white rum and small batch cacao-based liqueurs, Preston has also partnered with the nearby bourbon distillery Widow Jane, incorporating the whiskey into several of its chocolate varieties. And tomorrow night, you can celebrate the two-year anniversary of these sister companies with a chocolatey-bourbony-bluegrassy get down. Beginning at 7pm, in the Cacao Prieto/Widow Jane distillery, stop by for whole roasted pigs from Hometown BBQ, Dominican appetizers, artisan popsicles, a sampling of Cacao Prieto’s chocolates, and — last, but not least — a range of rare, unreleased and one-off heirloom whiskies from Widow Jane’s award-winning operation.Click here to RSVP!Cacao Prieto / Widow Jane Distillery
218 Conover Street
Brooklyn, New York 11231