Cocktails to make your Valentine swoon

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I’m going to talk about making Valentine’s Day cocktails, so if you can’t stomach the notion that a drink can be both pink and good, this won’t be for you.

Come to think of it, if you’re unable to be seen – and I’m addressing a certain type of guy – sipping a rose-colored cocktail, you’ve either been drinking the wrong stuff or have deeper issues to resolve.

For the rest of you intrepid tipplers (unfussy drunks, too), here are a few pink-hued drinks that should make your Valentine swoon.

Aperol Spritz

Okay, this refreshing pre-dinner cocktail is really more orangey-pink. But it’s exotically pretty, bubbly without Champagne’s price, and delicious. It’s also ridiculously easy to make.

Aperol, a faintly bitter-orange based Italian aperitif, gives this drink is exotic look and zing.

Come to think of it, you’ll want a bottle of this stuff around for other great drinks we’ll be making in the weeks ahead.

In a champagne flute, pour 1 and 1/2 ounces of Aperol, 2 ounces of chilled Prosecco or other sparkling wine (I say go full Italian), and a splash of chilled seltzer. Garnish with a lemon twist.

If you like less Aperol, back off on it. You can also skip the splash of seltzer, if you like. In other words, make drinks like you like ‘em.

If heat is what your romantic heart – and palate – craves, try a cocktail called Coming in Hot!

In this remarkably multifaceted drink, a few teensy slivers of jalapeno transform what would be a tasty but ho-hum strawberry margarita into a modern classic. Created by mixologist Carlos Yturria, this drink is featured in my book, Organic Shaken and Stirred.

You can go with organic ingredients, as I have, or not.

2 organic strawberries, hulled

4 slivers peeled and seeded organic jalapeno chile

3/4 ounce freshly squeezed organic lemon juice

1 and 1/2 ounces organic reposado tequila

1/2 ounce organic agave nectar

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the strawberries, 3 of the jalapeno slivers, and lemon until well mashed. Add the tequila and agave nectar, and fill the shaker with ice cubes. Shake vigorously, then strain the mixture into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with the remaining jalapeno sliver.

Martinis are the dozen red roses of cocktails. A perfectly fine drink, but about as romantic as scheduled nookie. Instead, try a Martinez. No, this isn’t the martini’s Latino cousin. Rather, the Martinez is a precursor to the martini – and a far better drink, I think. Very old-school and very sexy. Plus, it has a nice rosy hue.

I'll give you two recipes for it. First is the easier and a perfectly tasty version; the second, the more likely authentic, though tracking down ingredients will be a little tougher. Once you try one of these, I’m betting you’ll add it to your list of home bar go-to drinks.

Martinez #1

2 ounces gin (Plymouth or Bluecoat works nicely)

1 ounce sweet vermouth (Punt e Mes is a good brand; Carpano Antica is best)

1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur (Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur)

Dash of orange bitters (Angostura Orange Bitters is a good fit, though most any will do fine)

Into a mixing glass go the gin, vermouth, maraschino liqueur and bitters. Top with ice and stir with a bar spoon until well chilled (about 20 seconds of stirring should do it). Strain into chilled martini glass and garnish with lemon peel.

Martinez #2

1 and 1/2 ounces Old Tom Gin (slightly sweeter, more old-school gin that’s recently been revived)

1 and 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth (definitely Carpano Antica)

1/4 ounce Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

Dash of orange bitters

Fix same way as the first.

Unlike many cocktail geeks, I’m no Cosmo hater. I’m not a fan; but I don’t sneer at folks who are. Properly made, a Cosmopolitan is a perfectly fine drink. However, a poorly made Cosmo is sublimely shitty. As with any cocktail, if you’re going to make one, make it right. And come on, making your date a great drink with confidence and flair can only be a good thing.

First, I know many recipes for this drink call for Rose’s Lime Juice. Don’t use it. Why? Because it sucks. Sorry, it just does.


1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 ounce cranberry juice (fresh, if possible)

1/2 ounce Cointreau (or Combier, which I like better)

1 ounce vodka

In cocktail shaker add all ingredients. Top with ice cubes. Shake like Mr. Big is chasing you. Strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish, if you like, with lime slice on rim of glass.

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