valentines cocktails

When it comes to choosing Valentines cocktails, or addressing the question of what to drink for Valentine’s Day, it can be difficult to find something different amongst the clichés. Something pink? Something fizzy? We can help you there with our guide to creating bespoke pink gin cocktails, designed so that each drink can be entirely individual and utterly unique.

A recent trend, adding botanicals to your drinks has become an actual thing. Kits are available containing anything from one or two fairly average spices up to a ‘professional’ grade case of rare botanicals. It must be remembered that the process of making gin involves a far lengthier process than infusing a cocktail and some botanicals give up their aromas more readily than others. Grains of paradise or cubeb peppers may look exotic, but it is unlikely that they will make much of a difference to your gin cocktail. They do however form the delicate top notes of a number of gin brands; artisanal or otherwise.

Gather together various items from the following categories…

Gin

All gin is different, with varying levels of the botanicals that give gin its unique flavour. London Dry is probably a good start. Although heavy on the juniper, it won’t have a massive number of top notes or fleeting complexities. These you can create yourself. Supermarket brand gin is likely to be London gin.

Pink things

You can get creative here, or enlist a little help from the high street. Anything goes here that will add a pink tint to your drink.

Hibiscus flowers are great, and can be bought in syrup or as dried petals. We used the syrup variety in the video for this post; they unfurl in the bubbles and look otherworldly as well as pink. Hibiscus also has a sweet-sour flavour not unlike pomegranate.

Pomegranate seeds will add little sparkling jewels to your cocktails and an extra level of texture.

We got a product called popaballs. Akin to the bubbles in bubble tea, these edible balls impart flavour, colour and texture to your cocktails. And a bit of fun.

We didn’t try it, but a cola cube sweet in the bottom of the glass could work quite well.

Rose petals look good and also add the romantic touch. Be warned though; they do not taste as you would expect. For flavour stick to rose cordial or rosewater; the petals from a spice vendor also taste of spices but not always in a good way.

Syrups and cordials are the obvious pink addition and are available in so many guises these days. We used some classic grenadine syrup although angostura’s bitters form the basis of a classic pink gin. We also found rose and pomegranate cordial and pomegranate and elderflower cordial.

Citrus fruit

The zest of citrus fruit is often used in cocktail making to add the delicate oils into the mix. You can also use wedges of citrus for a more full on addition and acidic notes. Think pink grapefruit or lime instead of the more obvious lemon. Although lemon certainly has its place.

Mixers

Not strictly a mixer, but we include dry vermouth here as it is essential to a classic martini. A few of the shorter drinks in the video are based on a martini, whilst for longer drinks think variations on a gin and tonic.

For other mixers, think adding a shot of bubbles. So, tonic water, soda water, sparkling wine, or lemonade. You may find some pink variations too such as pink lemonade or berry type spritzer. Sometimes a splash to add fizz. Sometimes a long cool drink with plenty of ice.

Spices and aromatics

This is the final addition to individualise your drinks. Try the following…

Juniper – this is the berry that gives gin its often-predominant flavour.

Cardamom – this is the scented flavour of Indian desserts and Chai tea. Split the pods to release the flavour. Works well with citrus or rose.

Lime leaf – gives a citrus scent but with the depth of spice too. Think Thai curry.

Coriander seed – lends a subtle, delicate and floral note

Star anise – adds sweetness

Coffee beans – adds, um, coffee notes

Green peppercorns – fresher than black or white, these should give up their scent more readily with a sharp grassy note.

Pink peppercorns – add sweet floral heat

Fresh mint – goes well with cardamom, rose and exotic middle eastern flavours.

We tried…

You can view all of these on the video post over on our YouTube channel.

Pink martini

6 parts gin, 1 part vermouth, dash of bitters or vermouth, maraschino cherries

Strawberry sizzle

Basic martini, with a splash of tonic, strawberry popaballs, and pink peppercorns

Gin blossom

1 hibiscus flower in syrup, 2 measures of gin, a dash of elderflower cordial, top up with soda.

Exotic promise

Ice, A strip of orange zest, coriander seeds, pomegranate seeds, 2 measures of gin, top up with soda.

Turkish delight

Ice. Wedges of ruby grapefruit, cardamom pods, rose petals, 2 measures of gin, a dash of rose cordial, top up with soda water.