Valentine's Day Recommendations

I have my Valentine’s Day routine down to a science at this point: Heart-shaped pancakes at breakfast for the kids, a Bloody Mary or three for my wife and I, some sparkling wine before dinner, a good steak accompanied by a silky, easy-to-finish-the-bottle red, and a chocolate dessert alongside a great bottle of Port or Brachetto. This year, I also plan on enjoying a couple of cocktails made with my new favorite cream liqueur, the stunning Amarula from South Africa. All of this adds up to a Valentine’s Day recipe that’s sure to be a hit.

 

Freixenet Cordon Negro Rosé

Lovely fresh red fruit aromas, bursting with strawberry, cherry, and raspberry, all leading to a palate in which the red fruit is sweet and ripe, with watermelon, cranberry, strawberry and cherry preserves. These are joined by a hint of flowers and just a touch of minerals. Drink now.

 

Freixenet Mia Moscato Rosé

The whiffs of rose water are just beautiful, and joined by red cherry, a hint of currant and some lychee. On the palate, this is sweet with lychee and ripe mango, yes, but there is a seam of spice that brings it back down to earth, and a lingering note of linden, rose water, wild strawberry, and a hint of chamomile. Drink now.

 

Fizz 56 Brachetto Dolce Spumante

Aromas of raspberry, strawberry and roses are joined by a hint of spice. On the palate, this shows cooked honey and a hint of cherry liqueur—the sweetness is subtle and candied all at once, and well-balanced. With milk chocolate, this would be a perfect pairing.

 

Loveblock Pinot Noir 2012, Central Otago, New Zealand

Rose-petal aromatics lift red raspberry, red cherry and a subtle suggestion of herbaceousness and cherry cola: Complex and appealing. On the palate, the fine-grained tannins here are sweet and spicy, and the mid-palate boasts rose petal, sappy cherry, red plum and spice, a hint of earth, and a grippy finish. This coats the tongue yet remains lithe throughout. Drink now - 2021.

 

Amarula Cream Liqueur

I tasted this excellent cream liqueur for the first time this past November in South Africa, and I was immediately won over. Generally, I’m not a great lover of cream liqueurs, but this one, with its subtly sweet aromas with hints of chocolate cut through with a bit of citrus-y spice, and its flavors that bring together a subtly exotic and citrus fruit character with framing flavors of cream and chocolate—there is almost a note that reminds me of a Creamsicle, but far more complex—this has quickly become my favorite. It’s delicious on its own, over ice, or in any number of cocktails, including this one, “The Amarula Swinging Safari.”

2.5 oz. Amarula Cream Liqueur

1.25 oz. Cointreau

.5 oz. Vodka Ice

Combine in a cocktail shaker, shake vigorously, and serve in a rocks glass, either on its own or garnished with an orange wheel. Repeat as necessary.