Love is in the air, and cocktails are on the menu as bars prepare for Britons’ big day of romantic indulgence on February 14.
At Little Bat in Islington, London, head bartender Matt Green has created a collection of drinks using luxurious black raspberry liqueur Chambord around Valentine’s Day. They include the Afternoon Delight, which is designed for cocktail lovers to build themselves, with all of the ingredients served with instructions. Inspired by the romance of an English afternoon tea, the cocktail tray will include Chambord, Bacardi white rum, English breakfast tea syrup, rose water, prosecco and lemon juice, to be mixed in desired quantities, priced £24 for sharing.
This will be on offer only on February 14 but a special list will be available from February 13 to 17, featuring £8 cocktails such as the Green & Red (pictured below), with Chambord and Patrón tequila, and the Chateau Royale with Chambord, Aperol and prosecco. The Love Bite is a combination of Chambord, Somerset cider brandy and Hobo 3 Hop lager.
To add to the fun, the bar will run an Instagram competition all week, where entrants have the chance to win a case of 12 mini-bottles of Chambord to recreate the cocktails at home, as well as two tickets to the Chosen Wedding Fair at Islington Town Hall on March 24. Entrants send a picture of themselves with any of the Chambord cocktails at Little Bat, tagged @littlebatbar and using the hashtag #TwinkleTwinkle.
A free Chateau Royale will also be on the menu at Little Bat’s sister bar, Callooh Callay in Shoreditch, for all couples how book a table for Valentine’s Day. It will run the same Instagram competition, using @calloohcallay and #SeriousNonsense.
Chambord is also adding to the romance at Blanchette restaurants in Soho and Brick Lane in London. The pre-dinner cocktail, called simply Valentine, is made with rose water, lychee juice and agave syrup, topped with champagne. For a night cap, the Chocolate Raspberry Martini mixes Chambord, Kahlúa and double cream, completed with a garnish of grated dark chocolate and raspberry. Both cocktails cost £11 and will be available from February 14 to 18.
At MNKY HSE in Mayfair, bar manager Javier Escribano has created the Love Potion (pictured above), priced £18.
Love Potion by Javier Escribano
30ml Mezcal Pierde Almas Puritita Verda
15ml Strawberry syrup
15ml Lemon juice
10ml Yellow Chartreuse
10ml Antica Formula
1 Egg white
Smoked with cherry wood
Dry shake all the ingredients to incorporate the egg white and make a foam. Then re-shake with ice until cold and double-strain into a chilled glass. Use a smoking gun to smoke the drink with cherry wood to give it a subtle smoky flavour.
Agave lovers will find the object of their affection at Mexican restaurant Ella Canta in London’s Mayfair, which is offering a seven-course tasting menu called “Mexican Seduction” from now until February 17. For El Día de San Valentín, the bar is offering Makech, a fresh and candied mix of Patrón Silver Tequila, 1800 Coconut Tequila, a cola and vanilla reduction, fresh lime, Dr Adam Elmegirab’s Dandelion & Burdock Bitters, and muddled cardamom, priced £15, and Amor Profundo, a zingy combination of Tequila Cuervo 1800, Mexican rum Deadhead, a plantain fruit reduction, ginger aroma, fresh lime and vanilla bitters, priced £14.
Blind Spot at St Martins Lane Hotel will be toasting St Valentine with two special cocktails available from February 14 to 18. The Queen of Hearts mixes Bombay Dry Gin, grapefruit juice, vanilla liqueur and pomegranate juice while the King of Spades is a punchy combination of Bacardí Carta Blanca rum, Cherry Heering liqueur, Noilly Prat vermouth and kirsch. The cocktails (pictured top) are £14 each, or two for £25.
A Valentine’s cocktail is already on the menu in all Hix bars and restaurants, from Hix Oyster & Fish House and Hix Townhouse in Lyme Regis in Dorset to Hix Oyster & Chop House, Tramshed, Hix Soho and Hixter Bankside in London. Dustin MacMillan, who is head of bars at Hix and brand ambassador for Dorset’s milk-based Black Cow Vodka, has created The Romeo (pictured above) – part of the vodka brand’s #LoveBlackCow campaign – priced £12. Dustin said: “It’s an illuminating cocktail: The Romeo is made with freshly squeezed blood orange juice mixed with infused syrup rhubarb shrub, which gives the recipe its sweet and zingy flavour.”
The Romeo by Dustin MacMillan
50ml Black Cow Vodka
35ml Freshly squeezed blood orange juice
20ml Rhubarb shrub (syrup made with sugar, vinegar and fresh rhubarb)
Add all the ingredients into a shaker, add cubed ice, shake and double-strain into a coupe glass.
At Dirty Bones restaurants in Oxford and London, they are offering More Dirty Passion (pictured above) – a cocktail made with Campari, Solerno Blood Orange liqueur, sweet vermouth and fresh blood orange juice with egg white, lemon and Peychaud’s Bitters. Priced £8, it is available now until February 16.
The Lobby Bar at One Aldwych in London is taking inspiration from its location in Theatreland, particularly Mamma Mia! at the nearby Novello Theatre, with its Valentine’s offering. Take a Chance on Me (pictured above) is an elegant sharing cocktail, where One Half is a refreshing combination of Plymouth Gin and gooseberry liqueur while Other Half is a richer mix of Rémy Martin VSOP cognac and buckthorn liqueur. Both are topped with Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut champagne. They are priced £30 for your choice of two, or £18 for a singleton serve.
From February 14 to 18, pan-Asian restaurants Tootoomoo around London will be serving a fruity special, The Pink Kiss, made from rum, lychee, guava and ginger, priced £7.50.
Long Bar at Sanderson in Fitzrovia is offering the Love Affair cocktail (pictured above), with Bombay Sapphire Gin, raspberry infusion, egg white and Laurent-Perrier Rosé champagne. “Love expert” Eden Blackman will be taking residency on the red lips sofa in the Sanderson lobby, providing love advice to anyone in need.
Ping Pong Dim Sum, Chinese Tea and Cocktail Bar has drawn inspiration from art – and dating apps – for its Valentine’s cocktail. Swipe Right at First Sight is a delicate blend of Finlandia vodka, elderflower gin, elderflower liqueur St-Germain, Chambord, lemon juice, egg white and hibiscus syrup, shaken over ice and served in a martini glass with a beautiful piece of artwork depicting love on the top.
Romantic flavours can even be found down the hair salon, with Blade Hairclubbing in Soho serving customers with The Name Of The Rose cocktail, made with Four Roses Single Barrel, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, Bob’s Abbott’s Bitters and rose bud tea, priced £9.90. For couples who book in together between February 14 and 17, the package will include a tasting made up of a flight of three bourbons, each paired with LoveChock raw organic vegan chocolate. Also, anyone booked in who has a rose tattoo will receive a free pour of Four Roses.