If you ask us, the best way to celebrate Valentine's Day is by staying home and cooking your sweetheart a romantic dinner. That's not to mention that if you..um...forgot to make restaurant reservations, finding a table for tonight will be nearly impossible.
Plus, you get to show off your bartending skills and can impress your date by fixing a delicious drink created just for him or her. While that may sound like too much work, we got a trio of professional cocktail caterers, who specialize in inventing signature concoctions for everything from weddings to birthday parties, to share with us some tips and recipes.
HAVE A GOOD STORY:
"Where the drink came from, why it's relevant and what it means to you are all conversation pieces and show that you took time and effort out of your day to make something unique," says William Batson, who runs The Barhops in Birmingham, Ala. He also recommends incorporating a traditional aphrodisiac, such as figs, dates, honey, strawberries, cinnamon, vanilla, wine, ginger or even a raw oyster. His I Left My Heart in Jalisco (pictured above) will certainly turn up the heat: It uses with tequila, the new ancho chile liqueur Ancho Reyes and Mexican-style hot chocolate.
For Talmadge Lowe, who founded the Los Angeles firm Pharmacie, the person you're creating the drink for should, of course, be its inspiration. When he makes a menu for a wedding, he says, "sometimes couples will have specific flavors or places that point us toward a particular cocktail profile. Other times, it's music or books or films or some other culture reference." If you're still struggling, you can always use personality traits -- serious, playful, spicy and so on. Lowe's simple The Little Kiss adds just a bit of tart and sweet flavor to a flute of Champagne, which will put almost anyone in the mood.
ADD A NEW TWIST:
Coming up with a wholly new drink recipe is daunting, but "simple twists on classic cocktails are always good starting points," says Chad Solomon of New York cocktail caterer Cuffs and Buttons. Take his Romancing the Stone: At first glance, it's a wildly original creation, but in reality, it's simply a French 75 made with honey syrup and apricot eau-de-vie.
So try whipping up a custom concoction for your Valentine tonight. No matter what you come up with, we're sure it'll be memorable.