Try these cocktails to heat up your Valentine’s Day.
PHOTOS BY RACHEL VALLEY
If there were a secret cocktail ingredient to make lovers woo, bartenders would be rich. But there are some ways to spice up a drink along with an evening.
Rafael Jimenez Rivera, general manager of Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co. in Midtown Sacramento, keeps that in mind when mixing up new (or old) cocktail recipes. He knows what can set hearts afire on a cold winter’s night.
With Valentine’s Day coming fast, he’s been busy.
“I love coming up with cocktails for every occasion,” he says. “In fact, sometimes I make up occasions just so I can make some cool new cocktails. I am definitely planning on putting together some new and interesting cocktails for Valentine’s Day.”
His favorite for this day of romance? It’s a golden oldie.
“Sazerac,” he says. “It is a classic cocktail that warms the heart and, when prepared with precision, is the ultimate OG cocktail.”
America’s first cocktail, Sazerac includes a hint of absinthe. Nicknamed the Green Fairy, absinthe has long been considered an aphrodisiac (and was banned for many years), even making the list of aphrodisiac foods from the Center for Reproductive Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
Herbal bitters, another Sazerac ingredient, also may stimulate interest as well as taste buds.
When setting a mood, passion fruit makes an obvious statement. Studies in India and Southeast Asia suggest a link between passion fruit, which is high in vitamins A and C, and a boost in sperm count. Passion fruit is higher in healthy polyphenols — also considered good for reproductive health — than other tropical fruits such as banana, mango, papaya, or pineapple. Other tropical favorites have added benefits. Coconut restores energy. Papaya enzymes may stimulate female libido.
“The cocktail that turns me on is the batida from Smuggler’s Cove (in San Francisco),” Jimenez Rivera says.
Its ingredients? Passion fruit, coconut, condensed milk, and the Brazilian spirit cachaça served over crushed ice.
“This coconutty, passion-fruity cocktail was the cocktail my wife and I would always finish our nights with at Smuggler’s Cove,” he says. “We would have mai tais and jungle birds, but the batida was always our night cap.”
Some potential aphrodisiacs have more kick than others. Jimenez Rivera uses three ingredients scientifically shown to have aphrodisiac properties — hot peppers, saffron, and honey — in one original drink that he calls “You Got Me.” Its name was inspired by a song by The Roots with Jill Scott.
According to Jimenez Rivera, it has “the ingredients to get the Valentine’s Day juices flowing.”
“This cocktail takes you on a journey,” he says. “First, it attacks your brain with the summertime memories of eating watermelon and talking to your first crush. Then, the capsaicin from the chiles stimulates the (brain’s) endorphins; the saffron-infused tequila lends you its aphrodisiac qualities, and, lastly, the honey gives you the vigor for the fun of the night.”
Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co.
1630 S St., Sacramento