A date to remember

This Sunday is St Valentine’s Day, the most romantic day of the year – so be prepared with the ultimate gift

February 14th; a day of love, of commitment … of cheap flowers hurriedly bought from the petrol station. No need to fall foul of unoriginality this year, give your loved one a personalised gift to remember – their very own cocktail. 

Creating a signature drink is easier than you think, just follow some simple rules:

The golden ratio: Your drink needs to be two parts spirit, one part sweet and one part tart to work well. In a short glass, that’s 60ml of liquor and two 30ml mixers.

Best base: The liquor is your base note, the flavour you are left with at the end. Decide what this is going to be, it’s the foundation of your cocktail. Vodka is a good, clean base for a fruity cocktail, while dark rum works well with creamy or coffee cocktails.

Something sweet: Layer up the flavour with a sweet mixer like sugar syrup, orange juice, or another liqueur like cherry brandy or Cointreau. Just make sure a secondary liquor is lower in alcohol than your base. If you are going for a creamy cocktail, then single cream, ice cream or coconut cream work too.

A bit tarty: Lemon and lime, grapefruit, coffee, cranberry juice or even chilled herbal tea can make up the bitter note in your cocktail.

Extra, extra: A splash of bitters can add a warm, spicy element without throwing off the balance. Alternatives include a splash of rosewater, or fresh fruit and herbs you can "muddle" (crush) before pouring the spirit. Finally, don’t forget the ice. Not only does it cool your cocktail down, but it adds a little water taking the sting out of the spirits without altering the flavour.

Mix it up: Stir cocktails that are all or mostly spirits. A martini, for example, should always be stirred. Shake a cocktail that has ingredients like fruit juice or cream that need to be combined with a liquor.
Pour and present: Don’t forget to garnish – herbs, edible flowers, glacé cherries or a sprinkle of cinnamon all add some magic. Then all you need to do is put your imagination to work on a suitable name...  

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