With Valentine’s day around the corner, you may be wondering how to impress your loved ones. If the way to a man or a woman’s heart is through their stomach, then it follows that food and drink play an integral part in the act of love.

Whatever you are doing on Valentines, the night will usually involve cocktails, if not as an aperitif to begin the evening, then hopefully a nightcap. So what better way to impress your partner by showing off your cocktail making skills and crafting a custom drink?

While there are many mixology classes you can take on the subject it’s pretty simple to make them yourself when you have the know how. Below are six easy ways to create home made signature cocktails.

1) Do your research
Make sure you learn your partner’s favorite spirit, then look up cocktail recipes based on flavors you know he/she likes. My other half loves grapefruit and gin so any cocktail I make involving these ingredients are always a sure hit. If you find yourself scratching your head for ideas, I suggest using websites like Imbime and Punch for inspiration.

2) Use seasonal, organic fresh ingredients
Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts with store-bought mixers. While they can save time, the quality will suffer, and the taste won’t be as good. Using seasonal and local fruit and vegetables wherever possible. Cocktails, like food, taste better if made with love and from scratch. Bitters on the other hand however are a lifesaver. They make all the difference to a cocktail. I use Bittermans, bitters which come in a variety of flavors. Tip you can add a few drops of bitters these to seltzer or soda water for a refreshing non-alcoholic drink.

3) Invest in sexy stemware
Glasses yes, they make a difference. In fact, studies have shown for wine, different shaped glasses can make the drink taste better. So selecting the right glass for a cocktail is important, You can’t go wrong by having a set of chic glassware in your cupboard, they are a real investment. If on a budget Cb2 offers a wide range of glassware and Riedel offers sets.

4) Use fun garnishes
As with food you drink with your eyes, so make sure the drink looks visually appealing. Garnishes add that pop to the drink like the pièce de ré·sis·tance
From dehydrating lemons wheels ( no you don’t need a dehydrator). Thinly slice the lemon into thin wheels, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at (200°F) until dry to touch ie 2-3 hours for lemons. They make a sleek and sexy garnish. Or if pushed for time, go to kaluystyans where they sell these by the jarful:)

Edible flowers
Another unique garnish is edible flowers, but make sure they are edible. As while you want to knock them dead, with your cocktail making skills, you don’t want to poison them. We use orchids at our events, from our favorite florist Fleur du mois but you can use daisy to roses. Head to your local flower shop who will be able to guide you. A rose petal in a cocktail looks chic

5) Ice ice baby Ice
No, I am not suggesting you use a ice pick and recreate a scene from basic instinct, but a specialty ice cube can make the difference. From sphere balls to giant cubes, these will elevate your cocktail. Pop some fruit or a flower into them if you want to be chic. For inspiration check Okamoto Studio. For a cost effecting DIY solution, buy oversized tray cubes. We love these from Cocktail Kingdom.

6) Pre batch your cocktails
So, imagine the night is going well and your dates glass is nearing empty. By now you may be a bit intoxicated yourself and not be able to recreate that magic from scratch. The good news is that most cocktails can be batched in advance. Infusions can be made in advance and simple syrups once made will keep your fridge for a week or two. At the beginning of the night add all your ingredients to a pitcher. That way all you have to do pour, shake and add the garnish. and hey presto you are done. This not only will you time but ensure each drinks tastes the same.

Whatever you decide to do, the main thing is to have fun with cocktail making after all, if cocktails be the food of love drink on.
Nandini from the Cocktail Architect