While making no promises about love potions or secret tonics, what we can guarantee is the quality of taste in the following eight drinks. Made with care and concern, they exemplify many ideals surrounding the holiday of love: spice, smoke and flavor. Whether you prefer a vodka or rum, or venture into the worlds of mezcal and pisco, there’s something here to warm the heart and whet the palate—even if you’ll be spending this one alone.
Approaching its third year of operation, Swine in NYC’s West Village strikes a smoky note with their “Pit of My Heart.” While minimal, it’s inspired and the potent mezcal base adopts a delightful balance from honey and lime. It’s as enticing as it is intoxicating, with more than a hint of sophistication.
Pit of My Heart
2 oz Fidencio Clásico mezcal
.75 oz honey
.75 oz lime juice
Muddle the blackberries, add the honey, lime and mezcal. Place in the ice and shake the mix vigorously. Garnish the cocktail with a lime wedge and a blackberry for additional taste.
Developed by Erik VanderWal of The Gordon Bar—within the newly renovated SIXTY Soho Hotel—the “Figs & Sage” cocktail stands as a classy, alluring concoction. Bourbon meets sherry for a balance of hearty and refreshing, but the fig syrup offers the ultimate defining factor. There’s a rich sweetness coupled with spice that activates all the senses.
Figs & Sage
.5 oz lemon
.5 fig syrup
.75 East India sherry
1.5 oz bourbon
1 fresh sage leaf
Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin, shake vigorously, then double strain into a coup
glass. Garnish with a sage leaf.
West Village restaurant and cocktail bar Pagani occupies a space that was once an old instrument shop founded in 1911. With music as their inspiration for love and libation, they crafted “The Little Wing” after one of Jimi Hendrix’s love songs. This vodka-based cocktail employs a fine selection of punctuating elements that create a bouquet of sweet, floral and tart tastes. It’s a masterful fit for the holiday.
The Little Wing
2 oz Grey Goose vodka
.5 oz violet liqueur
.5 oz Grenadine
2 oz house-pressed pineapple
.5 oz cranberry juice
Shake all of the ingredients together and serve in a coupe glass. Garnish with a full strawberry.
It’s hard to find something sexier than a blend of cognac and champagne. Developed by the team behind Courvoisier, “The French Kiss” marries spice and bubbles for a luxuriant foray into champagne cocktails. While sweet but not too sweet, this is a mature and refreshing drink that tingles in a myriad of ways. It also happens to be rather easy to put together.
The French Kiss
1 oz Courvoisier VSOP cognac
1 Demerara sugar cube
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Top up with Champagne
Soak a sugar cube in bitters and drop it into a champagne flute. Cover with Courvoisier VS Cognac and slowly top with Champagne.
Developed by Jillian Vose, at NYC’s Dead Rabbit, the “Three Day Weekend” partners bourbon with one of our favorite aperitivos: Campari. This is a high-proof cocktail that’s as nuanced as it is delectable. Vose actually cacao-nib-infuses Campari for an added touch of seasonal romance and that’s worth trying, as cacao certainly appeals to the senses.
Three Day Weekend
.75 oz cacao-nib-infused Campari
2 oz Wild Turkey 101 bourbon
.75 oz fresh lemon juice
.75 oz ginger syrup
Lemon and orange citrus peels
Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into rocks glass with a large ice cube. Garnish with citrus peels.
For the more excitable, a “Blood Orange Margarita” marrying Milagro tequila and Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, offers a celebratory yet thoughtful twist to the classic. Solerno lends more than a citrus edge, it delivers a thicker mouthfeel to the drink. As much as this cocktail hints at spring, it also hints at letting loose.
Blood Orange Margarita
1.5 oz. Milagro Resposada
1 oz. Solerno Blood Orange Liqueuer
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/4 oz agave
Pour over ice in a tall glass and garnish with an orange slice—or a blood orange slice, when in season.
Delving into the dynamic nature of pisco opens an array of new cocktail offerings. In speaking with Natalia Cárdenas, the national brand master of Pisco Portón, we were able to discover a drink that’s “tropical, fresh, and tangy—it’s sure to bring an added spice to your day.” The “Peruvian Amor” incorporates hibiscus and ginger, as well as Greek yogurt, for a startling yet soothing effect. It’s complex and uncommon, but light on the lips.
2 oz Pisco Portón
1 oz hibiscus tea simple syrup
.75 oz fresh lime juice
.25 oz Dry Curaçao
2 dime-sized fresh ginger
.5 teaspoon Greek yogurt
1 egg white
1.5 oz sparkling wine
Place ginger and the Rich Hibiscus Tea Simple Syrup in a cocktail shaker. Muddle the ginger before adding the remaining ingredients (except sparkling wine). Shake vigorously. Add ice to the cocktail shaker and shake for 20 more seconds. Double-strain the drink into a highball glass. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with rose petals. To make your own hibiscus simple syrup, steep a 1/2 cup dried hibiscus leaves in one cup of hot water for five minutes. Strain the leaves. Add two cups of white sugar and stir until dissolved. Let it cool.
For those with Valentine’s Day party plans, the warmth and delicious spice of a hot buttered rum is easy to deliver on a large scale—and just as easy to enjoy. This classic drink swells with flavor, offering up comfort with the high-proof content. We tried one made with Sailor Jerry Rum and found it to be the ideal option, lending further spice to the mix. Our recipe below serves four.
Hot Buttered Rum
2 cups water
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup Sailor Jerry Rum
Bring the water, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt to a boil in a two quart saucepan, over moderately high heat. Reduce heat and allow the mix to simmer, whisking occasionally for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Serve hot.
Images courtesy of respective brands