A “Calm February” Valentine’s Day
Red is the color of love, especially dark red. Proteau botanical beverages are dark-red, non-alcoholic drinks in a beautiful cut-glass bottle. Created in New York City from extensive research into Italian amaros, fortified wines and vermouth, and enhanced by years of cocktail creativity at noted speakeasy PDT, cocktail master and Proteau creator John deBary removed the alcohol but left an intriguing blend of botanicals that is every bit as intoxicating as their alcoholic inspirations. For Valentine’s Day,” Ludlow Red” is a balanced concoction of bitter, floral, and fruity with notes of blackberry, chrysanthemum, black pepper and dandelion. “Rivington Spritz” offers a sparkling version that is refreshing and bright with hints of hibiscus and chamomile flowers, Chinese rhubarb, gentian, strawberries and a touch of artisanal vinegar. The two-pack gift set is a refreshing gift for those days when alcohol is not on the menu.
Restaurant Faves and Canned Cocktails
Drink your berries and chocolates in the comfort of your living room with Dante’s limited- edition Valentine’s libations, “The Rose” (Lillet Rosé, Raspberry Eau de Vie, raspberry, rose) and “the Heart of Gold” (Rémy Martin VSOP, Cocchi Torino, Oloroso, chocolate bitters, cocoa). The team at this Village Italian has assembled aphrodisiacal cocktail kits with bottles of these two special cocktails along with sensual additions like gold-rimmed martini glasses, illustrated coasters, matches, a hand-poured Negroni candle and a specially curated playlist.
Midtown’s Ocean Prime NYC offers their fizzy favorite, “Berries and Bubbles for Two,” (Belvedere Citrus Vodka, Grand Marnier, marinated berries, fresh lemon and Domaine Chandon Brut) and a spicy “Prime Manhattan for Two” with Woodford Reserve Private Selection, Carpano Antica Vermouth, Amaro Nonino, Rosemary Grapefruit Peppercorn Bitters to set the mood for your Valentine’s Day evening. The attractively designed kits are one-and-done with supplies for shaking and serving the cocktails, chocolate-dipped strawberries, a recipe card and a Valentine.
Michelin-starred Cote pairs a meat-centric feast with a cocktail indulgence in their Valentine’s Day to-go- package. The Asian-inflected steakhouse menu includes an indulgent selection of “Steak and Eggs,” a Butcher’s Serenade (filet mignon, Nantucket Bay scallop, 45+ day dry-aged ribeye, American Wagyu, Japanese A5 wagyu ribeye and grand cru galbi), longevity noodles and soft serve. A sparkling accompaniment, the pale pink “Princess Peach” is an aromatic blend of Casa Dragones Blanco, Cocchi Rosa, lemon, peach syrup and La Caravelle Rosé Champagne.
Brooklyn-based Social Hour Cocktails gives you three fresh choices for your Valentine’s Day cocktail hour. Created by bartenders Julie Reiner and Tom Macy, the cocktails in a can are all New York in origin. The “Gin & Tonic” and “Whiskey Mule” are made with premium local spirits from the New York Distilling Company, also from Brooklyn. The more adventurous “Pacific Spritz” is crafted with ingredients sourced from the Finger Lakes for an unusual blend of Aperitivo liqueur and rosé with passionfruit and grapefruit flavors.
Become Your Own Sommelier or Mixologist
Are you and your significant other secretly yearning to be a sommelier? Join a wine class led by one of the foremost wine educators in the world, Kevin Zraly, creator of the world-famous Windows on the World Wine School. Your evening destination on February 15 is California for a day after Valentine’s Day red-wine immersion. The One Hour California Red Wine Expert Class is offered through The School, now online. You’ll learn about the state’s various wine regions as you sip and swirl a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, a Napa Merlot and a Zinfandel. If the spirit so moves, there are three more classes available to complete your pre-somm education.
To prepare for the class, I suggest a visit to Sotheby’s Wine, New York. Even last-minute, the experts at the auction house’s elegant wine shop are adept at sourcing whatever vintage you might want or need. They’ll also help create the perfect dessert and wine pairing for a romantic finale to your evening. Try the lovely Canard Duchene Brut Rosé NV 3 for its fresh strawberry notes, or splurge on Chateau Rieussec 2015 sauterne, bright with oranges, lemons and strawberries.
If mixed cocktails are more your preference, NYC-based bartender Katie Auth will create a boozy bespoke evening at home from Katie Sips. Katie’s Valentine’s Day program is an interactive, online class built around your choice of drinks. If you don’t have a preference for a particular cocktail, Katie will inspire your inner mixologist with her cocktail creativity. A cocktail kit is provided in advance. You’ll get everything you need for a perfect beverage -- syrups, garnishes, mixers and more – except the liquor. How about a Valentine-appropriate “Turkish Fizz” made with Hendrick’s Gin, lemon juice, pistachio-rosewater orgeat syrup, egg whites and soda, garnished with dehydrated rosebuds; or a retro “Pink Lady,” also made with gin and egg whites but enhanced with applejack and a few dashes of grenadine. Both are pretty and pink and deceptively powerful.