When I think about some of my most special Valentine’s Day memories they are with family. Going back as far as my childhood, I remember special valentines breakfasts where my mom made a special meal complete with strawberries, fancy pancakes and a chocolate. Dinner often had a little treat for each of us kids, and a card from my parents to each other that once read created a sentimental look in their eyes that us kids at the time didn’t understand.
At the time for us kids, Valentines was about getting (or not getting) cards at school, and about chocolate and candy hearts, then later as a teen about who would (or would not) dance with you at the Valentine’s dance. And now as a parent and wife, I have come full circle and Valentine’s Day is again about family, sharing a special meal with them and a sentimental card with my spouse.
So as a mocktail enthusiast – I wanted to share some special Valentine’s drinks this year as part of our Valentine’s Day celebrations. The web is full of great pink, red and chocolate Valentine’s Mocktail ideas so we decide to try a few this Valentines weekend.
At Christmas I treated myself to a couple of Herbal Blossom Teas by Epicure that I hoped to try out in mixed drinks. One in particular called Scarlet O included rose petals, hibiscus and elderflowers – three ingredients that are hard to find up north. I also picked up rose water and hibiscus water on my trip to Vancouver – and so this recipe by realsimple.com jumped out at me when I was surfing the web. You can find the full recipe here and my adaptation below. The recipe serves 6.
This is not a very sweet drink and resulted in mixed reviews from my family. The colour and presentation are fantastic and the drink has a very interesting flavour complex. But, my two girls found it needed additional sweetener and more ginger ale than the recommended amount, and even with a shot of grenadine and added ginger ale only one of the two (the youngest interestingly enough) finished her drink. All four of us found the drink tasted more like tea than a cocktail, and this drink rated the lowest for the majority of our family. Would it work for an adult party? Perhaps, with a twist of pineapple juice thrown in. I would also consider trying this with Dark Gingerale to see if the flavour blend works better. Having no Red Zinger in town though, I am not sure what a different Hibiscus Tea would do to the drink.
Kid-o-metre 1/5 Not enjoyed without adding extra sugar and pop, then only moderately.
Taste: 3/5 Very unique a flavour and for a sophisticated palate.
Simplicity: 5/5 Nothing hard in this from a mixologist perspective. Don’t even need a cocktail shaker!
Ingredient finding: 3/5 Red Zinger was not available, an alternative is thanks to a local home businesses – remaining ingredients easy to find.
This recipe by SoberJulie looked like a elegant sparkling apple juice coloured by a touch of grenadine. I was intrigued by the addition of sweet lime juice suggested and decided to give it a try at our family Valentines dinner. You can find her recipe here. The basic ingredients are also below. This make 4 servings.
- 1 1/2 cups apple juice
- 3/4 cups sweet lime juice
- 4 tsp grenadine syrup
- 1/4 cup carbonated water
- 1 cup crushed ice
This drink reminded me too much of Sunripe Apple Lime blend – while the presentation was elegant the drink itself could have used more fizz than it called for. That begin said, my youngest chose this as her second favourite drink of the four we tried over the evening.
Kid-o-metre 3/5 Kids had mixed feelings about it. One didn’t finish her glass and said it was too lime tasting for her.
Taste: 2/5 Isn’t really special enough and too much like something out of a carton.
Simplicity: 5/5 Very easy to make. The garnish is a little tricky, but by the third one I had mastered it.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 All ingredients used to be easy to get locally, however my store has stopped carrying grenadine… sigh!
The next two recipes were from a list of 6 truly inspiring Valentines Mocktail ideas by One Good Thing by Jillee who had come up with amazing recipes including exotic ingredients like pomegranate juice, papaya nectar, blood orange juice as well as more common (but hard to find in my town) ingredients like white grape juice and colourful sorbets. I wish I could try all her ideas, but am settling on two – the first one using strawberries and lime and the last using chocolate.
This recipe is similar to something I had thought of while considering how to incorporate strawberries and cream into a drink. Jillee uses a combination of simple syrup laced with lime, strawberry puree and sweetened condensed milk to create a pink tinted creamy mixture. You can find her recipe here and the ingredients you will need are listed below. This drink makes a full pitcher (about 2 litres) ready to serve to 8 to 10 guests depending on size of glass.
- 4 smooth, thin-skinned limes, cut into chunks
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 cups cold water
- 6 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
- 1 pound strawberries, pureed
- Light corn syrup (optional)
- Red sugar (optional)
- sliced strawberries and limes for garnish
This drink rated in the top two for the majority of our family. The blend of fresh lime juice, strawberry puree and condensed milk is very sweet and natural tasting and I was amazed at how sweet the drink was considering that the sugar syrup is very light (1:6) and the only other sugar is in the condensed milk (6 tbsp in an entire batch).
I used fresh strawberries for this recipe (about 400 grams) and blended them with half the sugar syrup after blending (then straining) the limes with the other half. The original recipe calls for pureed berries – and having no pre-pureed strawberries I improvised. This may have mixed the drink more effectively – and also added more sweetness from the strawberries since they were almost liquified in the blender.
I would serve this at any Valentine’s Day party – and happily pay for this drink in a bar if it was available.
Kid-o-metre 4.5/5 Kids enjoyed it, but it was not the first choice for either, but both finished their glass!
Taste: 4.5/5 Fantastic! Truly worth the work and cost of ingredients and it’s a huge party sized batch.
Simplicity: 3/5 There is some time required to make this drink, and a blender is an absolute necessity. (Sorry Mom!)
Ingredient finding: 5/5 All ingredients for this were readily available at my local store in my little town.
Mexican Chocolate Mocktail
Chocolate is a must at Valentine’s Day as is cinnamon. Infact if I had to choose, I would pick the cinnamon hearts over a box of chocolate any day. So when I read the ingredients for this Mocktail on Jillee’s website, that she adapted from HGTV.com by adding a red sugared rim, I had to try the recipe out. I would have liked to adapt it slightly myself – by adding crushed cinnamon hearts instead of red coloured sugar – but cinnamon hearts are not available this year locally. The ingredients are below, and you can check out the links to see the full instructions.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups almond milk, chilled
- 4 glasses
- Light corn syrup (optional)
- Red sugar (optional)
Wow! I am not a huge chocolate milk fan, but the cinnamon, cocoa and almond milk make this drink an absolute dream. This drink rated equal to the last recipe in our home. The recipe makes a perfect four servings and there was not a drop left in any glass. I would still love to try this with crushed cinnamon hearts – sigh. Maybe next year!
Kid-o-metre 4.5/5 Kids chose this as first and second choice of the four drinks.
Taste: 4.5/5 Like I say… Wow! This does require almond milk – which isn’t cheap, but well worth the investment.
Simplicity: 5/5 This is very easy to make. Requires some time for cooling of the ingredients, but no special tools.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 All easily found locally.
I would love to create something new, and may spend a little time on Valentine’s Day coming up with my own creation, but while Valentine’s is about love – and I love mixology – it’s about relationships. So my goal for the day is to spend as much time with those I love as I can, being a mom and a wife and a friend.
Happy Valentine’s Day!