First of all, we must begin by saying there is absolutely nothing wrong with indulging in self-care with a glass of elixir. In fact, we highly recommend it for your mental health. But it may just be that you're inviting someone over to your place for what you anticipate will be an amorous evening. Or you could be preparing a date night for your longtime significant other? Regardless, if a romantic partner is joining you for a drink, it requires a whole different kind of preparation.
Clair McLafferty is a craft bartender and the author of Romantic Cocktails: Craft Cocktail Recipes for Couples, Crushes, and Star-Crossed Lovers (available now), a sleek red book featuring more than 100 drink recipes. Her expert advice: "If someone tells you that they dislike whiskey or love mezcal, it’s about paying attention to those little things and making a cocktail based on them. Really to me, that’s the essence of a romantic cocktail—paying attention. It’s making a small gesture. It’s letting someone know that you listen and that you want to craft something just for them."
Taste and scent memory is one of the strongest triggers that we have.
She adds, “While the ancillary effects might lend themselves to romantic pursuits, nothing has ever been scientifically proven about the link between these ingredients—even oysters—and sexual arousal.” The words “nothing has ever been proven” might sound discouraging, or you could think of them as presenting an opportunity. Find a willing research partner, mix a few drinks, and draw your own conclusions.
McLafferty’s book features cocktails for just about any love-related situation, whether you're hooking up or happily coupled. Self-medicating after a breakup? Try the I Love You Like a Punch in the Head (recipe below). The book also makes sure you have everything you need to mix and serve drinks properly, because when it comes to romance, presentation matters. McLafferty confesses that on the rare occasion she makes a cocktail at home, she might put it in a stemless wineglass from IKEA, but she says it’s much sexier to serve drinks in the appropriate glassware. After all, “You drink with your eyes first,” and that’s why people are willing to pay more for spirits that come in beautiful bottles. She adds, “In the industry, we call it ‘drinking the bottle’, but it’s just basic psychology. If you believe that something is going to taste delicious, you’re already primed that it is going to be delicious, whether or not it’s perfect.”
If your date likes the drink, and the night goes well, it doesn’t have to end there. McLafferty sees long-term romantic potential here—and she’s talking about the cocktail, of course. “Taste and scent memory is one of the strongest triggers that we have. If you make a romantic cocktail, and it is something that you maybe come back to with the person you love a few years later or every year on the anniversary of that date, it will take you back every time to that first experience. It’s something that can become very special, and even more romantic as time goes on.”
I Love You Like a Punch in the Head
by Beckaly Franks of The Pontiac in Hong Kong
• 3/4 ounce tequila
• 3/4 ounce mezcal
• 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon Becherovka (a bittersweet herbal liqueur, described as "a mature Fireball")
• 1/2 ounce rich simple syrup
• 1/2 ounce egg white (about 1 small egg white)
•Bitters, for garnish
• Grapefruit twist, for garnish
Shake tequila, mezcal, lemon juice, Becherovka, rich simple syrup, and egg white vigorously without ice. Add ice and shake again. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with Bitters Art and express a grapefruit twist over top. Discard the grapefruit twist.
If you're feeling crafty: Bitters art is kind of like latte art, except that it is drawn in egg foam with added bitters instead of by carefully pouring textured milk into the mug. There are two ways to make a design: ﬁrst, by spraying bitters over a stencil onto the foam, or second, by using a dropper to add a few drops, and then using a toothpick or straw to ﬁnish the design.