Romantic Champagne Cocktails For St Valentine’s Day
The Aperitif Guy, Features Writer
14th February was always a day of slight tension for my parents. My Mum would have loved to receive flowers, chocolates or even just a card. My Dad tries hard to make her feel special every day and used to say he didn’t need the card shops to tell him when to show his love.
Over the years they’ve managed to find the middle ground and remain strongly committed to each other in their 54th year of marriage.
With my own partner, we don’t give Valentine’s cards or gifts, but we do like to have a quiet drink together in the evening. Everyone finds their own way of celebrating love.
I’m told the most romantic thing I’ve ever done was to get up early, one year when St Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday, and come back with the makings of a fresh seafood breakfast – oysters, sashimi-grade mackerel and tuna, smoked prawns and half a dressed lobster to share.
We did open a demoiselle (half-bottle) of Champagne, but at that time in the morning it just felt wrong and we never finished it. Evening drinking is a different thing altogether, and we have a fondness for Champagne that our income cannot match, but it’s lovely to open a bottle every now and again, especially when there’s no reason to do so!
There’s something very decadent about a Champagne-based cocktail. They can be a perfect way to start an evening in and, depending what you want in the mix, can take you in all kinds of directions: deeply romantic, sensual or just giddy. The Beloved and I had a go at mixing some last weekend to see which we liked best.
Hélène de Troie
Pour a measure of rose-flavour liqueur into the bottom of a Champagne glass and top up with pink champagne. Garnish with a rose petal.
This has got to be the most romantic one we tried. It’s been a favourite of mine since I first tried it in a Greek restaurant in France. (The name means “Helen of Troy”)
It has a deep pink colour and smells of damask roses. This is the one to start off a seduction or set the scene for a proposal of marriage. However, do make sure you know your lover’s tastes. My Beloved isn’t into flower-based food and drink and hated it.
I make this with French Crème de rose liqueur (available at Latitude in Leeds or on Amazon - you could also try Trembling Madness in York). It has a deep colour and very strong flavour of roses. Italian rosolio liqueur is paler and more delicate, but I think it gets lost in the Champagne. Perhaps it would have suited the Beloved better!
Mix an orange liqueur such as Cointreau or Triple Sec with fresh orange juice in a jug. ⅓ fill a champagne flute with this and top up with Champagne.
I often joke with my sister in the States about her taste in cocktails. Her worst crime is to serve me a Bucks Fizz and call it a Mimosa.
Bucks Fizz is made with half juice and half Champagne and is a good way to reduce the alcohol content of the drink. Mimosa, on the other hand, is for grown-ups: you’ve boosted its alcohol content with the liqueur. It’s a lovely spring drink and would make a great start to the evening if you were taking your partner out afterwards.
The classic combination is with Cointreau, but we had fun trying it with Grand Marnier (a bit richer), too, and have made it just as successfully with clementine juice and Mandarine Napoléon. If you don’t fancy it this weekend, it’ll make a great aperitif for Easter Sunday lunch in April.
Pour a teaspoon of Grand Marnier and 2 teaspoons of St-Germain elderflower liqueur into each glass and top up with Champagne.
This is one of my own invention. I based it on a suggestion from the back of a Grand Marnier bottle one summer that had you mixing the orange brandy with soda water and elderflower cordial. I’ve just moved it from the garden party to the dining room. The result is a very sophisticated cocktail and would be an ideal way to mark an important anniversary or begin a quiet night in.
Douse a sugar cube with Angostura Bitters and place it in the bottom of a Champagne glass. Add a shot of good quality Cognac and top up with Champagne. Leave ungarnished or slip a maraschino cherry onto the rim of the glass.
This one’s not for the faint-hearted! It’s not so much a flavoured Champagne as a dilute Cognac. It’s not for the impecunious, either, for obvious reasons. I have tried making it with cheaper brandies but wished I hadn’t. Better to keep it for the kind of special occasion that would warrant mixing Champagne with a fine Cognac.
This is the oldest cocktail on my list. It was first mentioned in a book of 1855, long before the Prohibition-era heyday of cocktails. In that time, it has been denounced by any number of authors and experts on mixology. Its popularity remains undiminished, though.
The sheer decadence of the cocktail makes it one for sharing. Perhaps this one’s the one for having with friends if you’re marking St Valentine’s day as a celebration of all forms of love, rather than just romance.
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I love English & Welsh wines, and will no doubt be writing about them in future articles, but they are generally produced by small producers, taking great care to produce top-quality wines.
If I’m going to pay twenty-odd pound a bottle for locally-produced fizz, I want to taste the wine. Indeed, it deserves to be treated with the same respect the growers and winemakers have shown it.
If I’m making cocktails, though, I’d rather spend £11.50 at Aldi for a Champagne I wouldn’t feel guilty mixing with strongly-flavoured liqueurs. You could also use one of the many regional French crémant wines or Cava that you can buy in most supermarkets.
Prosecco is lower in acidity than Champagne and has a ‘softer’ fizz to it. I haven’t found it to work well with liqueurs, but give it a try in the Mimosa if you like and see how it works in that.
The Aperitif Guy has a regular blog at blog.theaperitifguy.co.uk or you can follow him on Twitter @AperitifGuy
Romantic Champagne Cocktails For St Valentine’s Day, 11th February 2019, 19:30 PM