If you ask us, the best way to celebrate Valentine’s Day is by staying home and cooking your sweetheart a romantic dinner. That’s not to mention that if you..um…forgot to make restaurant reservations, finding a table for tonight will be nearly impossible.
Plus, you get to show off your bartending skills and can impress your date by fixing a delicious drink created just for him or her. While that may sound like too much work, we got a trio of professional cocktail caterers, who specialize in inventing signature concoctions for everything from weddings to birthday parties, to share with us some tips and recipes.
HAVE A GOOD STORY:
“Where the drink came from, why it’s relevant and what it means to you are all conversation pieces and show that you took time and effort out of your day to make something unique,” says William Batson, who runs The Barhops in Birmingham, Ala. He also recommends incorporating a traditional aphrodisiac, such as figs, dates, honey, strawberries, cinnamon, vanilla, wine, ginger or even a raw oyster. His I Left My Heart in Jalisco (pictured above) will certainly turn up the heat: It uses with tequila, the new ancho chile liqueur Ancho Reyes and Mexican-style hot chocolate.
For Talmadge Lowe, who founded the Los Angeles firm Pharmacie, the person you’re creating the drink for should, of course, be its inspiration. When he makes a menu for a wedding, he says, “sometimes couples will have specific flavors or places that point us toward a particular cocktail profile. Other times, it’s music or books or films or some other culture reference.” If you’re still struggling, you can always use personality traits—serious, playful, spicy and so on. Lowe’s simple The Little Kiss adds just a bit of tart and sweet flavor to a flute of Champagne, which will put almost anyone in the mood.
ADD A NEW TWIST:
Coming up with a wholly new drink recipe is daunting, but “simple twists on classic cocktails are always good starting points,” says Chad Solomon of New York cocktail caterer Cuffs and Buttons. Take his Romancing the Stone: At first glance, it’s a wildly original creation, but in reality, it’s simply a French 75 made with honey syrup and apricot eau-de-vie.
I Left My Heart in Jalisco
Contributed by William Batson
- 12 oz Whole milk
- 2 tbsp Unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 oz Unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 1 oz Demerara sugar
- 1 Star anise pod
- 1 Vanilla bean, split in half
- 1 pinch Cayenne pepper
- 1 pinch Salt
- 2.5 oz Hussong’s Reposado Tequila
- .5 oz Ancho Reyes Ancho Chile Liqueur
- Glass: Mug
- Garnish: Orange twist and cocoa powder
Add the milk, cocoa powder and chocolate to a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the chocolate melts. Add the sugar, star anise, vanilla bean, Cayenne pepper and salt, reduce the heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes. Strain the mixture into two mugs, and add 1.25 ounces of tequila and .25 ounces of Ancho Reyes to each. Stir, and garnish with orange twists and a sprinkle of cocoa powder.
The Little Kiss
Contributed by Talmadge Lowe
- .25 oz Strawberry Shrub*
- .25 oz White crème de cacao
- 3 oz Champagne
- Glass: Flute
- Garnish: Strawberry
Add the Strawberry Shrub and crème de cacao to a chilled Champagne flute. Slowly pour in the Champagne and garnish with a woodland strawberry or a tiny regular strawberry.
- 10 oz Water
- 4 oz White vinegar
- 12 oz Sugar
- 8 to 12 Strawberries, hulled and halved
Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves completely. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Mash the strawberries with a muddler or fork. Strain, and refrigerate (preferably overnight) before using.
Romancing the Stone
Contributed by Chad Solomon & Christy Pope
- 1 oz Blume Marillen Apricot Eau-de-Vie
- .5 oz Fresh lemon juice
- .5 oz Honey syrup (2 parts honey, 1 part water)
- 1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
- Champagne or sparkling wine
- Glass: Flute
Add all the ingredients except the Champagne to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a Champagne flute and fill with Champagne.