The original St Valentine was a Roman monk who was beaten with clubs and stones and beheaded for being a Christian. Not a very romantic story, but he is celebrated every February 14 probably because his feast day happens to be the same date as Lupercalia, a pagan festival to herald the approach of spring. Whatever the story, we all know that monks liked a drink – they were once our main producers of beers and liqueurs after all – so I’m sure St Valentine would have appreciated some of the fine drinks from bars and mixologists for wooing couples.
One of the greatest legacies of these early monkish liqueurs was Bénédictine, which is the key ingredient in a Valentine’s Day cocktail created by mixologist Amit Sood of Shaker Consultancy.
The Bene-Dulgent Milk Punch (pictured top) is a smooth and silky dessert drink, slightly sweet and with a dry cacao edge. It shows off the complex herbaceous notes of Bénédictine, balancing the sweetness with the dryness and bitterness of chocolate spirit.
Bene-Dulgent Milk Punch by Amit Sood
20ml Mozart Dry Chocolate spirit
10ml De Kuyper Butterscotch Liqueur
20ml Condensed milk
Pour all the ingredients into a mixing glass, fill with ice and shake very hard for 10 seconds. Fine-strain into a wine goblet with no ice. Garnish with grated chocolate and nutmeg.
Stuart McCluskey, founder of The Bon Vivant and The Devil’s Advocate bars in Edinburgh, has come up with a simple serve for Hendrick’s Gin this Valentine’s, called the Raspberry Rose Royale (pictured above), a shaken twist on a classic Kir Royale. The recipe highlights the use of an infusion of Bulgarian rose petals as one of the gin’s botanicals.
Raspberry Rose Royale by Stuart McCluskey
25ml Hendrick’s Gin
5ml Sugar syrup
1 fresh raspberry
Garnish: 1 fresh raspberry
Combine the raspberry, gin and sugar syrup and give three “passionate” shakes. Fine-strain into the base of a champagne flute before layering the champagne on top. Garnish with one fresh raspberry.
A Valentine’s cocktail has been created for London club Shimmy in Notting Hill by Metinee Kongsrivilai, on-trade brand ambassador for Bacardi Martini and bartender at White Lyan in Shoreditch, London. Priced £12, the French Letter (pictured above) combines cognac, Cherry Marnier, cherry bitters, soda and champagne plus a drop of goat plum essence that is said to “increase sexual pleasure and enjoyment and enhance acceptance of one’s physical body”.
The luxurious super-premium Beluga Noble vodka from Russia is being promoted for a Valentine’s Day cocktail (pictured above), inspired by a classic Bramble:
40ml Beluga Noble vodka
40ml Lemon juice
40ml Agave syrup
1 dash of crème de mûre
4 fresh raspberries
Garnish: 1 raspberry
Muddle the raspberries in a shaker glass and add the vodka, lemon juice and syrup and fill with cubed ice. Shake hard and strain into a rocks glass. Add a dash of crème de mûre to create a red tint to the cocktail and top with crushed ice. Garnish with one raspberry.
From the team behind Japanese melon liqueur Midori comes the Midori Amour cocktail (pictured above) which balances the sweet tones of the liqueur with a zing of pomegranate and lime, served with champagne.
25ml Pomegranate juice
25ml Champagne (on the side)
Squeeze of lime
Drizzle of grenadine
Add all the ingredients except the champagne to the shaker and shake with cubed ice. Fine-strain into a coupette or Martini glass. Garnish with a lime twist and serve with a shot of champagne on the side.
At Shaka Zulu in Camden, north London, the bar team are offering the Wild Love cocktail (pictured above). Made to share, it is a mix of vanilla vodka, homemade blueberry jam, fresh lemon juice, lavender syrup and freshly squeezed apple juice infused with lemongrass.
Served with rose petals and chocolate-covered strawberries, Wild Love will only be available on Valentine’s Day, priced £20.
Strawberry-flavoured tequila cream liqueur Tequila Rose is popularly drunk neat but a simple serve has been created for this month’s celebration called Love Bomb (pictured above).
Served with fresh strawberries, the Love Bomb is said to be “a true symbol of sensuality and is sure to keep the ‘desire fire’ burning”.
Love Bomb from Tequila Rose
50ml Tequila Rose
30ml Black raspberry liqueur
Garnish: 1 strawberry
Shake the ingredients with ice and strain into a cold glass and garnish with a fresh strawberry.
At Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen near Newquay, Cornwall, a Valentine’s list has been put together by head bartender Joshua Linfitt. Cocktails include Let’s Get It On, mixing Aqua Riva Premium Reposado tequila with Mandarine Napoléon, organic agave syrup, Curaçao Bitters and lime, finished off with a rim of Cornish sea salt infused with blood orange zest.
The list also features Waltz of the Flowers, priced £8.50, which combines the naturally pink-hued Pinkster Gin with Lillet Blanc vermouth, vanilla-infused dry vermouth, rose water, lavender bitters, violet liqueur and lemon juice, creating a citrus and floral bouquet.
For a hot arousing end to the evening, Fifteen is offering Wonderful Tonight – a rich strong digestif at £15. Served warm, it is made with Appleton Estate 12 Year Old rum, Chase vodka with a Nicaraguan coffee infusion from Origin Coffee, a 1985 Don PX Pedro Ximénez sherry and cocoa bitters.
At Nobu Berkeley St restaurant in London’s Mayfair, they have partnered with ceramic artist Linda Bloomfield to create a bespoke wood-fired ceramic sake jug for its exclusive Valentine’s sharing cocktail (pictured above).
The drink, created by bar manager Flavio Carenzi, combines gin with crème de violette and a hint of “under bush essence” which is described as a sweetened essence made from moss. At £40, the price means guests can take the unique vessel home as a memento.
For a darker spin on Valentine’s Day, a pop-up florist is being created by the team behind The Kraken Black Spiced Rum. Inspired by the mythical Kraken squids’ dark ink, the florist will sell black flowers, arranged in grave vases, along with 5cl miniature bottles of the rum (pictured above).
The macabre black-dyed flowers will come with a choice of two squid-inspired messages, “Take me whole” or “Swallow me piece by piece” – lyrics from a sea shanty recorded by Ross Millard of The Futureheads for The Kraken rum.
Created by Miss Cakehead, the florist will be in Kingly Court, just off Carnaby Street, in Soho, London, from 8am on February 14 only. It will offer the black floral gifts in return for a voluntary donation to the Project Redsand charity which is working to save historic army anti-aircraft towers in the Thames Estuary.
London-based group The Diner will also serve a one-off Kraken Vs Cupid Valentine’s drink in all of its seven venues. The Kraken Vs Cupid campaign will also see The Mesmerist bar in Brighton city centre turned into an inky den for the Kraken Vs Cupid Valentine’s party.
Updated on February 10 with Nobu cocktail.
Updated on February 11 with Hendrick’s Gin cocktail and Shimmy cocktail.
Click here to see the latest news stories from Barmagazine.co.uk