Raising the bar: Cocktails of love for Valentine's Day

Written by: Jim Wrigley

"The great grey beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive."

The opening sentence of Clive Barker's entrancing children’s book, "The Thief of Always," echoed back to me every January as it passed into February when I lived in the United Kingdom. The new month comes with cold, gloomy, short, rainy days. Christmas sparkles are already a distant memory, and sweet summer is still far hence. Short and cold though it is, February is also, however, the month of love. 

Wherever you are in the world, whether you’re single, in a relationship, “it’s complicated” or maybe a resolute non-believer in the undoubtedly monetised Valentine's Day, you’ll know that it is also one of the busiest nights of the year in the restaurant and bar world. Myriad drinks with puns aplenty cover every chalkboard menu, last-minute bookings are like gold dust, and woe betide anyone who wants a table for more than two, or who asks for the à la carte menu. 

Back in England, a typical colder clime Cupidian Cocktail would often consist of rich, boozy, cosy, decadent chocolate concoctions, usually creamy in some way and festooned with heart-shaped red things. They are often shareable — like "Lady and the Tramp" with liquid spaghetti. 

This year I find myself in the beautiful, tropical surroundings of Grand Cayman, where Valentine’s Day can be spent outside, sandy-toed strolling or swimming, and then after sunset, Champagne flute clinking on a veranda with nary a jacket in sight. With such a backdrop, it’s high time to look at some different options for lover’s libations. 

The amorous inspiration for the drinks below came from recently having read Stephen Fry’s "Mythos," wherein he retells the stories of the Greek myths and their gods and goddesses, monsters, loves and lovers. 

Adonis 

The Greek goddess of love and beauty was Aphrodite. One of her (many) lovers was the famed Adonis, and this namesake drink is a perfect mix of decadent and delectable. It is simple to make and elegantly complex in structure.

Ingredients:

2 ounces Fino or Manzanilla (dry) Sherry 
1 ounce sweet vermouth (Martini Riserva Speciale Rubino or Cocchi di Torino for preference)
Dash orange bitters

Method:

Add all ingredients to a chilled mixing glass filled with ice. Stir briskly for 15-20 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 
Garnish with a thin twist of orange peel.

From the Sea

This classic 1880s sipper, named for Aphrodite herself, is suited to all lovers, whether for Valentine’s Day or any other romantic occasion.

Ingredients:

1 ounce Ambrosia 
0.75 ounce local guava juice (Guava is a member of the myrtle family, which is one of Aphrodite’s symbols.)
0.5 ounce Lillet Blanc
0.5 ounce fresh lemon juice
5 ml (teaspoon) honey, preferably locally made
High quality Rosé bubbles

Method: 

Add all ingredients except bubbles to an iced-filled cocktail shaker. Shake hard for 10 seconds, then fine strain into a chilled champagne flute. Top with bubbles. Garnish with a couple of small flowers.

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This article appears in print in the February 2020 edition of Camana Bay Times.

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