Appeal to Your Senses.

It’s human nature to want to feel good. And, if there’s something that can make us feel even better than good, well, why wouldn’t we want to give it a try? Enter the aphrodisiac, which has a long, torrid history (a bit like a tempestuous relationship you might say.) Science says that these titillating nibbles do nothing for the libido “officially”, but there is plenty of evidence that says stimulating the senses – through sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste — can be an erotic experience.

In his book The Cocktail Lab, Tony Conigliaro observes, “Talking about how booze makes you feel is almost a taboo subject — essentially we are discussing the effects of a drug, so how can this be art — how can this be beautiful?”

Anyone who has been presented with a well-conceived cocktail knows that booze can be beautiful indeed. And this “beauty”, loosely speaking, happens when the body’s senses unite in their experience.

With food — and drink — we first “taste” with our eyes. Who hasn’t heard the phrase “My eyes were bigger than my stomach”? So, visually, the more intriguing or attractive one finds a drink, the more immediate one’s response. The others senses follow suit. With that in mind, here are some things to consider when making a drink designed to arouse.

  • Is it lovely to look at — a rich color, a stunning garnish?
  • Is there a sound associated with it — the fizz of carbonation or the clink of ice?
  • Does it give off a seductive or stimulating aroma such as rose petals or chocolate?
  • How does it feel in the mouth — cooling, bubbly, warm, velvety?
  • What does it taste like? Is it balanced in its flavor components?

Conceptually, aphrodisiacs have been around since, quite literally, the beginning of chronicled time. The term stems from the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite (aka the Roman Venus), whose amorous exploit are well known — Venus on the Half Shell anyone? Historically, aphrodisiacs run the gamut from animal organs or eggs (like caviar) to foods that “heat you up” (like chile peppers) to once-exotic flavors (like chocolate) to things that evoke personal memories or are linked to the concept of love (like roses.) And, in several studies, men reacted strongly to the scent of cinnamon. Of course, arousal is a very personal experience, so your “go-to” ingredient might not be the same as your paramour’s.

That said, below are some recipes that stimulate one or all of the senses in their delivery. And while the ingredients may jibe with the lore of sexual arousal in terms of certain foods, flavors or scents, you be the judge of their effectiveness. At worst, you’ll have a fabulous cocktail; at best, a night to remember. No “official” aphrodisiacs required.

Chiles and Chocolate

Sexy Spiced Chocolate Patrón

Sexy Spiced Chocolate Patrón

Photo Courtesy of Patrón

Sexy Spiced Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. Patrón XO Café Incendio
  • 1 1/2 oz. Patrón Reposado
  • 3 Pinches Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1/2 oz. Heavy Cream
  • 3/4 oz. Dark Chocolate Liqueur
  • Red pepper (for garnish)

Preparation: Build ingredients except heavy cream, shake, and strain into a chilled glass. Shake heavy cream and layer the top of the cocktail with it. Garnish with a dollop of crushed red pepper in the glass.


Caviar

Fleur de Vers Petrossian

Fleur de Vers Petrossian

Photo Courtesy of Petrossian Caviar

Fleur de Vers

Courtesy of Petrossian Caviar

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Tanqueray Gin
  • 3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 oz. St. Germain Elder Flower Liqueur
  • 3/4 oz. Green Chartreuse
  • 1 Drop Rose Water
  • 1/2 tsp. Petrossian Caviar Powder (for garnish)
  • Large Lemon Peel (for garnish)

Preparation: Add all ingredients to a shaker, fill with ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe or Champagne flute. Garnish with large lemon peel. Place caviar powder in center of peel.


Sparkling Wine

Rye is for Lovers

Rye is for Lovers

Photo Courtesy of TwelveFive Rye

Rye is for Lovers

Courtesy of Amanda Gunderson, Congenial Spirits

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. Twelve Five Rye
  • 3/4 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 oz. Simple Syrup
  • Champagne (to top)
  • Strawberries (for muddling and garnish)
  • Rosemary (for muddling and garnish)

Preparation: In a tin, muddle two strawberries and a pinch of rosemary. Add rye, lemon and simple syrup. Shake and fine strain to a Champagne flute. Top with Champagne and garnish with a strawberry and rosemary sprig.

Pink Sunrise

Pink Sunrise

Photo Courtesy of Lillet

Pink Sunrise

Ingredients:

  • 1 Raw Sugar Cube
  • Bittermens Boston Bitters (or grapefruit bitters)
  • 2 Parts Chilled Lillet Rose
  • 2 Parts Chilled Champagne
  • Grapefruit twist (for garnish)

Preparation: Add sugar cube to the bottom of a coupe glass and soak sugar just through with Boston bitters. Pour Lillet Rose over sugar cube and top with Champagne. Garnish with grapefruit twist.


Roses (and Sparkling Wine)

Edinburgh Rose

Edinburgh Rose

Photo Courtesy of Hendrick’s Gin

Edinburgh Rose

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. Hendrick’s Gin
  • 4-6 Fresh Raspberries (plus one for garnish)
  • 1 oz. Lychee Juice
  • 1/2 oz Organic Raspberry/Rose Cordial
  • Champagne (to top)

Preparation: Shake it all with LOVE and double strain into a flute. Top up with Champagne. Garnish with a raspberry.


“Exotic” Ingredients

Lotus Blossom

Lotus Blossom

Photo Courtesy of Daniel Kelleghan

Lotus Blossom

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Somrus (ingredients include saffron, rose, cardamom)
  • 1 oz. Cognac
  • 1 1/2 oz. Almond Milk
  • 3/4 oz. Cardamom Syrup
  • 1/2 oz. Green Chartreuse

Preparation: Add all ingredients to shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with rose smoke (dried rose petals run through a smoking gun or light dried rose petals with a match and cover with drinking glass to trap smoke.)