|Love Potions, vol. 11
by Karine Bailly and Emily Bell
| Photos by VIcky Wasik and Antoinette Bruno
Cost-savvy spenders are likely to substitute the opulence of a multi-course prix fixe with a romantic evening spent sipping carefully crafted cocktails, so the restaurant with a strong cocktail program should have a packed bar, if not a packed house this holiday weekend. (Since Valentine’s is on a Sunday, you’ll likely see a lot of foot traffic from Friday onwards.) Most couples and roaming bachelors will happily invest in seductive, aphrodisiac elixirs at the bar simply because the romantic payoff of a moderately expensive cocktail is more certain than even the most affordable, oyster-laden Valentine’s menu. This year, keep waiting diners happy—and thirsty couples swooning—with these Cupid-courting cocktails.
Mixologist Giuseppe Gonzalez of Dutch Kills – Long Island City, NY
Mixologist Giuseppe Gonzalez sets the sip in motion as he decants his Water Lily from shaker to glass. The presentation is simple and elegant: a cloudy white blend of lemon juice, Cointreau, Plymouth gin, and violet syrup. The citrus of the lemon juice blends flawlessly with the bitter and sweet orange of the Cointreau. Gonzalez embeds the drink with a mildly sweet and aromatic violet syrup, reminiscent of a soothing perfume and suggesting a tender femininity. But Gonzalez keeps the sugar levels in check with gin, infusing the drink with an herbal and aromatic finish and leaving the palate ready for round two—if it comes.
Mixologist Danielle Motor of The Hungry Cat – Hollywood, CA
Inspired by a burlesque dancer who uses a Champagne bottle in one of her performances, Danielle Motor’s “Second Act” will undoubtedly garner some serious attention. This mixture of vodka and jasmine-infused vodka, blended with tangerine juice, lemon juice, and honey syrup, assumes a commanding presence when served in a short-stemmed brandy snifter. The Champagne fizz finish and bright lemon twist further enhance the flowery citrus undertones of Motor’s cocktail. It’s the choice elixir for the lady or gent who wants to maintain a demure veneer while keeping the romantic tension mounting.
Mixologist Artemio Vasquez of Yerba Buena – New York, NY
Artemio Vaszquez knows a thing or two about seduction. His Desert Rose cocktail is built around a rose tea-infused Plymouth gin, giving the drink a gentle perfume that balances with the herbal stringency of the gin. Vasquez mixes in prickly pear juice and simple syrup to infuse the drink with stimulating sweetness. His presentation is sweetly Old World: the drink’s deep blush hue hints at romantic scandal, accentuated by the polished elegance of a vintage Champagne coupe and delicately strewn rose petals.
Mixologist Scott Beattie – Healdsburg, CA
Scott Beattie crafts his love potion with a blend of equal parts vodka, blood orange vodka, and Meyer lemon vodka. The citrus vodkas are accentuated with fresh blood orange and Meyer lemon juice, then rounded out with peach bitters and winter spice syrup, blending to create a refreshing and subtly sweet Valentine’s libation. The presentation is provocative as well—a vibrant red elixir poured into the quintessentially sexy martini glass, garnished with a blanket of flower petals and rimmed with sugar, mixed spices, and orange zest.
Mixologist Orson Salicetti of Apothèke – New York, NY
For those who aren’t satisfied with the typical chocolate finale to every Valentine’s meal, Orson Salicetti of Apothèke offers this dessert in a glass. Red bean ice cream, premium vodka, and potent Israeli mint make for a creamy, subtly sweet cocktail that’s neither heavy nor cloying. A vigorous shake incorporates the red bean ice cream, giving the cocktail the luscious body of a light milkshake and a creamy mouthfeel. Salicetti tops it off with Venezuelan cacao, which accents the roundness of the red bean ice cream, and tender mint leaves.