Forgo the flowers and candy—give your sweetie what he or she really wants this Valentine’s Day: A sultry sip. Whether they incorporate aphrodisiac ingredients or give your favorite spirit a sexy spin, imbibers will fall for one of these five love potions crafted from the country’s top mixologists. And in case you’re wondering which ingredients are thought to spice things up, we scored a list of the top six aphrodisiacs from the Museum of Sex in New York City.
Recipe courtesy Scott Fitzgerald, head mixologist at Mulberry Project, New York City
“Chili peppers contain capsaicin, a chemical that when consumed increases heart rate and the sensitivity of nerve endings,” says Fitzgerald. His Spicy Valentine is a rum-based concoction that gets a kick from Thai chili.
“Spicy food and drink stimulates the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters that provide a feeling of a natural high, which are also generally released during sexual intercourse.”
6 watermelon chunks, plus extra for garnish
1 Thai chili
2 ounces Brugal Extra Dry rum
1 ounce lime juice
¾ ounce simple syrup
Muddle watermelon and chili in a shaker. Add rum, lime juice and simple syrup. Shake well and fine strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a chunk of watermelon.
Recipe courtesy Andrew Foulk, beverage director at The Mixing Room at JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE Hotel, Los Angeles
“This is a great Valentine’s Day cocktail for whiskey lovers,” says Foulk. “It’s a great twist on the classic old fashioned, with just a hint of sweet but with a tart finish.”
1 sugar cube
3 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
2 ounces strawberry-infused Breaking and Entering Bourbon (recipe below)
Dried strawberry chip, for garnish
Muddle sugar cube with bitters in a mixing glass. Add strawberry-infused Bourbon and stir with ice. Strain mixture over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a dried strawberry chip.
1 cup fresh strawberries
1 bottle Breaking and Entering Bourbon
Combine strawberries and Bourbon in a glass jar. Seal and let steep in the refrigerator for several days. Strain out the berries.
The Love Unit
Recipe courtesy Ryan Magarian, beverage consultant at Hyde Beach, SLS Hotel South Beach, Miami
“The Love Unit cocktail starts off sweet, but has a delectable, spicy finish,” says Magarian. “It’s the potion for a perfect Valentine’s Day.”
1½ ounces Belvedere vodka
½ ounce Absolut Vanilla
1 ounce red bell pepper juice
¼ ounce grapefruit juice
¾ ounce lime juice
¾ ounce simple syrup
Red bell pepper ring, for garnish
Fresh basil leaf, for garnish
Combine vodka, vanilla, juices and syrup in mixing glass. Shake well for 6 seconds. Strain into a martini or cocktail glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with the red bell pepper ring and basil leaf.
Love Potion Number 9
Recipe ourtesy Paul Sauter, mixologist at Mercadito, Chicago
“Pomegranates are supposed to be a sign of fertility because of the copious amounts of seeds, but more importantly, they make [this] drink pop with flavor,” says Sauter, who also notes that “the pomegranate gives the cocktail a really rich color, which is perfect for Valentine’s Day.”
1 ounce Corzo Tequila
1 ounce dark rum
4 teaspoons brown sugar syrup (equal parts brown sugar and water)
1 teaspoon pomegranate juice
3 orange chunks, for garnish
In a small saucepan over medium heat, boil water and dissolve brown sugar to make brown sugar syrup. Zest the lime and lemon halves into a glass. Cut the lime and lemon into wedges and squeeze two of each into the glass. Add the syrup and stir. Add the pomegranate juice, stir well to combine and pour the mixture into a rocks or pint glass. Garnish the drink with the orange chunks.
Recipe courtesy Kit Stanley, mixologist at Oral Fix Café at the Museum of Sex, New York City
This spicy-sweet sipper will “add a little spice to your night,” says Stanley. It also features freshly-spun strawberry cotton candy—which makes for a fun treat at MoSex’s bar. But if you can’t get the fresh-spun variety, bagged cotton candy [like Fluffy Stuff] can substitute for recreations at home.
1½ ounces chili-infused vodka (recipe below)
1 piece strawberry cotton candy
4 ounces Perrier
Pour the chili-infused vodka into Champagne flute. Rip off a piece of cotton candy to fill the glass and pour Perrier cordial over the top.
1 Serrano chili, stemmed, seeded and quartered lengthwise
1 jalapeno chili, stemmed, seeded and quartered lengthwise
1 habanero chili stemmed, seeded and quartered lengthwise
1 750-ml bottle vodka
Place the chilies in a large glass container, add the vodka and seal cap tightly. Let stand at room temperature for 48 hours, shaking it gentle once or twice a day. Strain the infused vodka back into the original bottle and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Six Aphrodisiac Ingredients
The Museum of Sex offered up this short list of common aphrodisiacs from around the world. Incorporate some of these ingredients to spice up your Valentine’s Day drinks and dishes.
Ancient references to honey’s sensual qualities can be found in Sumerian texts referencing Inanna, the goddess of sexual love and fertility. In Yoruba mythology, love goddess Oshun used honey as a tool of seduction, spreading it on her lips. In ancient Greece, honey was known as the nectar of Aphrodite, from which aphrodisiacs take their name.
Used in preparations all over the world, cinnamon turns up in the Middle East, Europe, Asia and the Americas. A Bible passage (Proverbs 7:17) even makes mention of the spice in a warning against adulterous women, “I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. Come let us take our fill of love till morning.”
Chocolate and Vanilla
Vanilla was cultivated by the Totonac people in ancient Mexico, whose Xanat myth refrences the vanilla orchid. Chocolate beverages were drunk by the Mayan and Aztec people of Mesoamerica before the Spanish conquest, and chocolate was the base for a popular aphrodisiac known as atextli made from a paste of cocoa beans and corn mixed with macaxochitl (Mexican pepperleaf) and tlilxochitl (vanilla). Infamous Aztec emperor Montezuma was reputed to drink a variation of atextli before visiting his wives.
Saffron threads were tossed by wealthy families in ancient Rome on the bridal beds of newly married couples, while in ancient Egypt, Cleopatra was said to add saffron to her bath water to increase her skin’s sensitivity. Scientists have proven that saffron does increase the dilation of blood vessels, confirming the effectiveness of this ritual.
Widely considered an aphrodisiac in Arabic cultures, Cardamom is featured prominently in the 15th century erotic work, “The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight,” one of the most well-known Arabic sex manuals.
Well-known for its medicinal and aphrodisiac qualities, it gets a special section in the 10th century Salerno Book of Health, which incorporates classical, Jewish and Arabic medicine practices. “Within the stomach, loins, and in the lung/Praise of hot ginger rightly may be sung. It quenches thirst, revives, excites the brain/And in old age awakes young love again.”