A custom-made neon sign proclaiming “Chocolate is art” graces the entrance of Compartes Chocolatier in Brentwood, Calif., playfully referencing the motto of an iconic chocolate shop once frequented by Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe. Rows of brightly colored chocolate bars line the walls of the beloved store, candy for the eyes and tongue.
Chocolatier Jonathan Grahm designed each of the chocolate-bar wrappers with a jolly, art deco theme. “Most of the wrappers are based off photos that inspire me,” he shares. For instance, the wrapper sheathing the apple-pie chocolate bar—dotted with apples, pie crust, cinnamon streusel crumble, and apple puree—was inspired by a photograph of pies baked by one of his friends. Around 50 types of chocolate bars and 100 kinds of truffles are currently available in the shop, featuring everything from seasonal fresh fruit from the farmer’s market to shreds of doughnuts from local shops. “They’re little works of art,” Grahm says of his creations.
On a Tuesday night in early February, a handful of journalists gathered to sample the to-die-for chocolates and learn about Grahm’s latest invention, the Compartes x Reserva de la Familia Tequila Dark Chocolate Truffles—a limited-edition set of truffles released just in time for Valentine’s Day. A dark-chocolate shell gives way to tequila-infused ganache, resulting in a sweet yet biting truffle that packs a punch. Made in partnership with Jose Cuervo, the truffles are decorated with a red-and-blue pattern that mirrors the artwork found on the Reserva de la Familia tequila bottles. The velvety extra-añejo tequila—made using blue agave harvested at its peak and matured in French and American oak barrels for at least three years—pairs perfectly with dark chocolate.
“I think that Reserva is the best of the best tequila,” Grahm says, when asked what inspired the partnership with the renowned tequila company. “It’s handmade, just like our chocolates, and each bottle is beautiful and artistic. These tequila-infused chocolates are a gift to remember.” Five-piece truffle boxes are available for $17.95, providing a sweet gift just in time for Valentine’s Day. (compartes.com; cuervo.com)