Spirits, as any good bartender knows, are the door to many a persons’ heart (buy me a bottle of rum and you’ll have a friend for life), come in many shapes and sizes and nowadays flavours. There is a lot of choice out there and even more so these days, the choice can be very difficult for those not up to date with the ‘in’ product. For instance do you know the best types of Dark rum to buy for your dark ‘n’ stormy? Or whether Smirnoff is the best UK vodka? (Hint: it’s not even from the UK).
Well the idea behind these valentines inspired cocktails is that they use spirits (as well as other ingredients) that can all be easily found in your local supermarkets (UK readers) or liquor stores (USA & other worldly destinations)…
So here we have 6 cocktails: 1 for each of the big 6 spirits: Whisky, Rum, Vodka, Tequila, Cognac & Gin. As I stated above; all the ingredients used can be easily sourced and in short notice too. So without delay let’s get started, with this wonderful Vodka cocktail:
Vodka Valentine: The Pomegranate Martini
1 measure Vodka
½ measure Cointreau*
3 measures POM Pomegranate Juice
- Combine all the ingredients in an ice-filled shaker and shake well (around 5-10 seconds – just enough time for the shaker to ice over).
- Strain mixture into a well-chilled martini cocktail glass.
- Garnish with an orange/lime peel.
This cocktail is a lovely little drink similar in hue (and length) as a cosmopolitan. It’s a girly favourite and that should make it a shoe in for any of you guys trying to impress a lady on a night in (or order them on a night out – always a winner).
*if you’re not a fan of the wonderfully sweet Cointreau Liqueur then you can always replace it with the same measurement of orange or lime juice. Equally if you want alcohol but want a less-sweet liqueur then try replacing it with Orange Curacao.
Rum Valentine: Cranberry Kiss
1 measure Captain Morgan’s Original Spiced Rum
2 measures Sour Mix*
2 measures Cranberry Juice
1 wedge of lemon
- Build the ingredients over ice in a Collins glass and stir well as you do so (you can mix this drink but it’s best built).
- Drop in a lemon wedge and stir gently. Serve with a straw.
This is a lovely long-ish cocktail with a slightly sweeter-than-normal taste. Great for chilling out on a long night out (or in) especially if you need a slight pick-me-up, this cocktail is definitely perfect for intimate evenings with loved ones and will go down a treat.
*Sour mix is a fancy term for lemon & lime flavoured sugar syrup. It can be made by following the usual sugar syrup method and adding lemon & lime juice to the mix. Click on the Sour Mix in the recipe for the sour mix recipe itself. Again – all the ingredients can be found in your local shop(s).
Tequila Valentine: Phoenix Rising
2 measures Blanco Tequila (100% Agave)
4 measures Fresh Orange Juice*
1 measure Agave Nectar
1 splash (5ml) Lime Juice
5-6 fresh pitted cherries**
- Muddle the cherries with a splash of lime juice and leave to one side.
- Combine the remaining ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
- Shake well (for around 5-10 seconds – or until the shaker ices-over).
- Strain into an ice filled rocks glass and drop in the cherries for a garnish.
- Serve with a straw, or straight if preferred.
This cocktail is what Valentines is all about: Sharing something special with someone special. Sure it’s only for tequila lovers as the tequila really shines through, but this cocktail, prepared correctly is a fantastic combination of flavour and kick.
*You can use juice from a carton but the fresher the better: Long Life Carton < Chilled Carton < Fresh Squeezed. Hint: The middle option, whilst not the freshest is the best value without losing too much quality. Especially if you choose a nice brand or supermarket top brand e.g. Sainsbury’s TTD or Tesco’s Finest.
**The cherries, if muddled just right, will release their burgundy coloured juice and tint the cocktail a nice reddish hue that dances about your glass with every sip. It also adds a slight fragrance to the drink enticing you in…
Gin Valentine: Lady Killer
1 measure Hendricks Dry Gin
½ measure Cointreau/Triple Sec
½ measure Apricot Brandy*
2 measures Passion fruit Juice**
2 measures Pineapple Juice***
- Combine all of the ingredients in an ice filled cocktail shaker.
- Shake well (5-10 seconds or until the shaker ices over).
- Strain into a champagne flute half filled with crushed ice.
- Garnish with a cherry on a long skewer & serve with a straw.
*Apricot Brandy is an apricot flavoured liqueur and the most common brands (at least here in the UK) are: De Kuyper & Bols (surprise, surprise they’re both Dutch!).
** This can be found in long life cartons in the UK, as for the USA: you should be able to find it in a grocery store (failing that a large supermarket should sell what you need).
*** Whilst fresh pineapple juice is always better than pre-juiced products it is also extremely expensive. So go for the ‘not from concentrate’ pineapple juice available in almost all supermarkets (UK readers hint: use the supermarket own brand).
Cognac Valentine: Angel’s Shoulder
1 ½ measures Cognac (V.S.O.P.)
¾ measure fresh lemon juice
½ measure rosemary simple syrup*
¼ measure Amaretto
¼ measure Crème de Peche (Peach Liqueur)**
¼ measure Benedictine
Red wine (Cotes Du Rhone)
- Combine all the ingredients (except the red wine) in an ice filled cocktail shaker and shake well (around 5-10 seconds – or until the shaker ices over).
- Strain into a rocks glass containing 1 large ice cube.
- Then float the red wine on top of the drink (best done using the back of a bar spoon).
This cocktail has a bit too it, but if you practice it before hand; surprising your date with this rather classy drink is certain to get you some plus points. Use a bar-spoon (a teaspoon will suffice) to layer the red wine and look like a real pro! – Don’t know how to do this little trick? Worry not; click here and you’ll master the technique in no time at all!
* Click here for a rosemary simple syrup recipe, and liven up your cocktails today!
** This is a peach liqueur and the most common brands are again the 2 big Dutch brands of Bols & De Kuyper. But failing that Archers peach liqueur is a very handy substitute.
Whisky Valentine: The Rob Roy
2 measures Blended Scotch
1 measure Vermouth
1 Dash of angostura bitters
Garnish: Lemon Peel Twist
- Pour ingredients into a mixing glass full of cracked ice.
- Stir well for around 30-60 seconds (stirring for longer helps chill the drink right down).
- Strain into a well-chilled small rocks glass.
- Garnish with the lemon peel twist and a cocktail cherry (optional).
This cocktail will be the focus of a whisky special coming soon, but for now it’s perfect for wooing those you truly care about. You may have to ask the drinker if they like whisky, but if they answer yes the chances are they’ll love this classic Scottish cocktail.
Top Tip: For the sharp eyed this cocktail will resemble a classic Manhattan cocktail almost exactly. Except the Rob Roy uses Scotch Whisky instead of American Rye whisky…