IMBIBE: A Kiss on the Lips

By on February 8, 2017

Try these sensuous cocktails for Valentine’s Day or any time.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Valentine’s Day is about nothing if not excess and indulgence. On that day each year, we splurge on chocolates, Champagne, gifts and special drinks and dinners to enjoy with our loves. And so, it’s the perfect excuse to go all-in with sexy and sensuous cocktails—ones that might not improve your aim, but will help Cupid’s. Here are a few good ones, making use of locally produced booze and bitters when possible.

We don’t normally think of James Bond as a sadsack. But the Vesper cocktail he invents in Casino Royale is actually named for a long-lost love. Kina Lillet isn’t available anymore, but you can substitute Lillet Blanc, along with your favorite gin and vodka. In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, pour 3 ounces of gin, 1 ounce of vodka, and 1/2 ounce Lillet Blanc. Shake until ice cold and strain into a Champagne coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a lemon slice.

The Hanky Panky is a classic cocktail dating back to 1925, usually credited to Ada “Coley” Coleman, who headed up the American Bar in London’s Savoy Hotel. The original recipe calls for Fernet Branca, but you could substitute a splash of local bitters. Here’s how to make a Hanky Panky: In a mixing glass with ice, stir together 1 1/2 ounces of gin, 1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth, and 2 dashes of Fernet Branca. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.

For a drink that flies in the face of pink and rose colored Valentine’s cocktails, try the neon blue-hued Sex in the Driveway, made with blue Curaçao—it couldn’t be simpler to concoct. In a highball glass filled with crushed ice, pour 1 ounce peach schnapps, 1 ounce blue Curaçao, 2 ounces of vodka or silver rum (your choice), and top off the glass with Sprite or lemon-lime sparkling water. Stir and garnish with a lemon wheel.

The Moradita—a beet-infused Margarita—is most closely associated with New York City’s Gotham Bar & Grill, one of my old haunts. Here’s how it’s made: In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour 1 1/2 ounce jalapeño-infused Dulce Vida tequila and a couple dashes of Bitter Lab Habanero-Lime Bitters, along with 3/4 ounce lime juice, 3/4 ounce triple sec, and 2 teaspoons beet puree. Shake well and strain into a Nick & Nora martini glass.

Jeff Faile of Casa Luca in Washington, D.C., created the Il Palio cocktail—an innovative drink that makes use of blood red Campari ice cubes, which slowly melt and turn the cocktail from a Manhattan into a Boulevardier. Here’s how to do it: Begin ahead of time by making ice cubes combining 3/4 ounce Campari with 2 ounces water and freeze in a square ice mold. Once frozen, place two Campari ice cubes into a rocks glass and pour 2 ounces High West Distillery American Prairie Bourbon, 1 ounce sweet vermouth and a dash of spiced orange cocktail bitters. Garnish with an orange twist and enjoy the way the cocktail morphs as the Campari ice melts.

From Joe Reiser, formerly of Los Angeles’s now-defunct Woo Lae Oak restaurant, comes the luscious French Cosmo. It’s as easy to make as it is gorgeous. In an ice-filled shaker or mixing glass, shake together 3 ounces pineapple juice, 1 1/2 ounces of your favorite vodka and 1/2 ounce crème de cassis. Strain into a chilled, stemmed glass and garnish with a pineapple slice. PJH

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