15 Valentine's Day Cocktails to Sip with Your Sweetheart
These rosy, romantic drinks—from Champagne cocktails to pomegranate cosmopolitans and a martini garnished with a heart—will set the mood for a special night.
What makes a good cocktail for Valentine's Day? We have some thoughts. Color, of course. Our beating hearts are red, and scarlet hearts are big on February 14th. Luckily, red is easily acquired in terms of good apéritif stalwarts like Aperol, Campari, cassis, and sweet vermouth. Blackberry-rich Chambord is delicious, judiciously dashed into a festive drink. And seasonal fruits are ready to help: cranberries, pomegranate, and blood orange are not only vivid, but very acidic and interesting, when well-matched with their liquor-counterpart.
We love to drink the season, and other cold-weather fruits are easily available. The aromatic zests of citrus add complexity to cocktails, their natural oils offering the detail every thoughtful mouthful requires. And there is the sense of festivity and play. What heralds a special occasion more than the pop (or the pfffft, if you are discrete) of a cork? If you're feeling fancy, make it Champagne. But plenty of sparkling wines are as good, in our opinion, simply lacking the big "C." Budget-friendly cavas and proseccos and a flock of other dry sparkling wines fit the bill. Substitute them for any mixed drink calling for fizz.
In our collection of Valentine's Day cocktails we have had fun with color, seasonal interest, bubbles, and creative but respectful improvisation on some beloved classics. You'll find a Paloma spiked with cranberry and a Manhattan kissed by Cassis. And we may just have been unable to choose between no fewer than four Champagne cocktails, each with a unique, celebratory twist. Here, we're sharing a refreshing American riff on the classic Kir Royale that swaps the usual blackcurrant liqueur for cranberry sauce, ready-made or homemade. Read on for more inspired ideas.
Kumquat Champagne Cocktail
The aromatic skins of impossibly cute kumquats transform dry Champagne into a sunny walk in a citrus grove. Just close your eyes and dream about your next trip.
In this suave interpretation of a Cosmopolitan, switch in pomegranate juice for the usual cranberry. Fresh lime juice wakes the shaken drink while orange liqueur smooths the tart edges.
Apérol Gin Punch
If you're gathering with your pod of loved ones, this rosy Lillet, gin, and Apérol punch is just the thing to serve. We love that it's bright with botanicals.
Whisky, cranberry sauce, vermouth, and dash of bitters make a bloody good drink (no, we are not swearing— it's simply red, like our cheeks).
Bleeding Heart Martini
Pickled baby beets bleed beautifully into clear, cold gin and add a sophisticated nibble to your last sip.
Manhattan Kir Royal
The addition of vermouth and Angostura steers a classic Kir Royal into Manhattan territory—the meeting of two great cocktails, like two well-suited humans. Cassis and amber bitters turn it appropriately pink.
Campari, Gin, and Orange Liqueur
This three-ingredient cocktail is just as the name suggests. It's an upgrade on the classic Campari-orange juice combo and is made crimson by Campari and balanced by the spicy bitter-orange sweetness of the liqueur Créole Shrubb by Clement, blended on the sunny Caribbean isle of Martinique.
Can you have too many Champagne cocktail recipes in your repertoire? No, you cannot. This sparkler calls on Chambord for color and character—the French blackberry liqueur tints your drink cerise and reminds you that summer will return.
Cranberries are underappreciated as a cocktail influencer. Their tannins and astringency add body to drinks, and then there is that color. Combining grapefruit with this native American favorite makes for a brilliant interpretation of the peerless (yet pale) tequila drink.
Venus Blush Cocktail
Antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice with freshly squeezed tangerines and their intense zest are shaken up with good vodka and bitters, making this cocktail positively healthful.
Gin is blended with Apérol, sweet (red) and dry vermouths, and poured into a glass rinsed with anise-strong Absinthe.
Freezing the martini glasses adds a sense of occasion to the condensation that will gather on your glasses of your ruby drink as you sip.
Red Wine Spritzer
Here's a drink for the lucky Valentines sipping in a mild winter climate. Red wine is seriously undervalued as a cocktail ingredient; its fuller body (from grape-skin tannins) lends itself well to gentle blending. A dash of a bittersweet apéritif like Apérol puts a wiggle in its hips, and a spritz of seltzer lightens the alcohol load.