Dates are perhaps some of the most harrowing experiences we go through in our lifetime, but a date on Valentine’s Day? Well, that’s even more nerve-wracking. Thankfully, there’s always one thing that can smooth out any heart-thumping tryst and it’s not pictures of your gap year in Thailand – it’s good old fashioned alcohol. So, whether you’re looking for something to steady the nerves or a way to spice up the conversation, these Valentine’s cocktails are guaranteed to impress.
34 Mayfair, Mayfair
Why: The slick hospitality at this popular haunt translates into its Valentine’s cocktails. Inspired by one of history’s most famous love affairs, 34 Mayfair has created both the Marc Antony and the Cleopatra. The Marc Antony is a mix of Chivas 18, Dubonnet Rouge, Ancho Reyes liqueur and chocolate bitters. The Cleopatra meanwhile, is made with Beefeater 24, Italicus liqueur, lychee juice, lemon juice, vanilla syrup and rose Champagne.
Where: 34 Grosvenor Square, W1K 2HD
How much: £16
All Star Lanes, Holborn
Why: Going bowling is a classic date idea straight out of the Homer Simpson playbook. All Star Lanes are more upmarket than your typical bowling alley though, with a proper restaurant and bar on site. For Valentine’s Day, All Stars has created the Candy Kiss cocktail, a combination of Prosseco, Pinkster gin, Lillet Blanc liqueur, lemon juice and sugar syrup. This is topped with candy floss and raspberry. This cocktail is also included in the drink, dine and bowl package across all sites at £30 per person between 9-17 February.
Where: Victoria House, Bloomsbury Place, WC1B 4DA
How much: £8.50
The Connaught, Mayfair
Why: For pure effortless glamour, the bar at The Connaught has few equals, so it’s bound to dazzle any Valentine’s date. The cocktail on offer here is the Patrón Tequila cocktail. Supposedy, the sip is influenced by a pair of regular guests at the bar who are complete opposites, yet best friends. The cocktail pairs the flavour of a Negroni and a Golden Cadillac using Galliano, Tequila and cream, as well as Martini, before being strained over a diamond of ice and sprayed with grapefruit and basil essence.
Where: The Connaught, 16 Carlos Place, W1K 2AL
How much: £19
Why: Sexy Peruvian restaurant COYA is bringing out the big guns this Valentine’s Day. Not only will there be a saxophonist on hand to provide some ambience, but the restaurant’s cocktail is a two-in-one. The 'Tu y Yo' (Spanish for you to me) is available for all of February, and comes served in a glass cork bottle that contains two different cocktails, so you can decide between yourselves who gets which. The bottle is decorated with a red ribbon and an orchid, which is the traditional flower used for Valentine’s Day in Peru.
Where: 118 Piccadilly, W1J 7NW
How much: £22
Manetta’s Bar, Mayfair
Why: Manetta’s bar is a suave, cosy and luxurious joint, that wouldn’t look out of place in a James Bond film. So, this may be the perfect Valentines date if you fancy swaggering around this hotel bar. The cocktail on offer for the most romantic of days is the ‘Wild Romance’, a blend of vodka infused with Haribo hearts, lime, plum bitter, wild blackberry jam, lychee purée and apricot liqueur.
Where: Flemings Mayfair, 7-12 Half Moon Street, W1J 7BH
How much: £16
Number Five Restaurant, City
Why: The Devonshire Club is open for members on V-day, offering a special menu for two. If you're not a member though, you can visit the next day instead, when members of the public can enjoy two seductive Valentine's cocktails. The menu includes two love potions, the first of which is the Red Passion (above) made of gin, Lanique liquor, syrup, lemon juice and Peychaud bitters, and topped with Veuve Clicquot Champagne and garnished with rose petals. The second, The Love Bite, is a combination of raspberry purée and elderflower, topped with Champagne and garnished with raspberry and a lemon twist.
Where: 5 Devonshire Square, EC2M 4YD
How much: £14
Why: Another South American restaurant is offering Peruvian romance this Valentine’s Day, with both Lima and Floral by Lima offering this cocktail. The Evita is a mix of vanilla Pisco, passionfruit, mango, rose syrup and prosecco (not too dissimilar from the Pornstar Martini we all know and love). The Evita sounds perfect for drinks before an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, or for washing down the seven-course sharing menu offered by Lima on Valentine’s.
Where: 31Rathbone Place, W1T 1JH
How much: £9
Long Bar at the Sanderson, Fitzrovia
Why: The incredibly swanky Sanderson hotel is a great place for a romantic getaway. Its bar is dominated by an impressive glowing onyx counter, as well as lots of greenery in the form of climbing vines, hanging plants and floral displays. Its Valentine’s cocktail, The Love Affair, is made with Bombay gin, raspberry infusion, lemon, sugar, egg white, raspberries and Veuve Clicquot Champagne.
Where: The Sanderson, 50 Berners Street, W1T 3NG
How much: £14
Tea Room at Bun House, Soho
Why: This homage to hedonistic Hong Kong dens of the past can be found in the basement of Bun House. The Tea Room’s love-potion cocktail is inspired by the offerings given to The God of Love and Marriage named Yue Lao in Taiwanese mythology. The sharing cocktail, called Dragon Eye and Milk Tea, is made up with Chinese jasmine infused gin, tea infused with jasmine, goji and jujube, longan sweets and a goji mousse.
Where: 23 Greek Street, W1D 4DZ
How much: £16.80
Why: Japanese restaurant Zuma is known as a rendezvous site for many at jet-setter and A-lister, perfect for taking a date that enjoys star-spotting. Zuma’s Valentine’s Day cocktail is a Japanese twist on the traditional Hot Toddy. The Tokyo Toddy is a concoction of saké, fresh cranberries, cinnamon, all-spice and yuzu juice. You can get it in a carafe for two, or if you’re out with friends on V-Day, there’s a larger sharing option.
Where: 5 Raphael Street, SW7 1DL
How much: £14/28