Tips for a Sweet Valentine’s Day from Matthew David Hopkins

Get extra romantic and crafty when planning your February 14 date

We’re getting closer to Valentine’s Day, and whether you approach the day with an eye roll or with open arms, it’s almost upon us. For those of you who are looking to set the scene and do something special for your valentine this year, how about creating a romantic ambiance that has a ton of thought behind it?
If you’re thinking, "Great, where do I start?" Fear not! We’ve gone straight to the source and reached out to New York City event planner Matthew David Hopkins for his help on this one.

Hopkins’ idea of a great Valentine's date starts and ends with three simple steps:

Be Nostalgic: Here, I've used the classic sweetheart candy as inspiration. You may want to use the idea of those paper Valentines that we all used to give as kids. Always remember, though, that we aren't kids now so pair it with something sophisticated or just capture the essence of it — maybe you make delicious cookies looks like kids' Valentines or maybe you use one as a tag on a little boxed present (with jewelry inside). The idea is to be nostalgic and yet current. One of these without the other becomes less memorable.

Keep It Simple: I've basically used off-the-shelf elements here to create a stylish and memorable dinner for two. Copy mine by going to Paper Presentation and ordering the paper hearts. You can add in favorite colors if you want as a way to customize. Use a white cloth as an underlay if your table is wooden or colorful already.

Be Thoughtful: Really put some thought behind what you do. What is his or her favorite dish? What is his or her favorite flower? What is his or her favorite aroma (get a candle), color (linen, clothing, lingerie), restaurant (go there or order in and re-plate it as a surprise), number (Lotto ticket anyone?). The point is to show your valentine that you are paying attention to them, that you listen to them, and that you get them.

Valentine's Day Recipes

Thrill your lover with a dish that will heat up any special day-and night. Check out Aphrodisiacs, StarChefs' collection of scorching Valentine's recipes from some of the hottest chefs around. Add fuel to the fire with Love Potions, where you can find tempting cocktails from the best thirst quenchers in the business. Or pick up one of these tantilizing Cookbooks to stir up your romance.

  • Chef Josh DeChellis' Kumamoto Oysters with Pineapple Vinegar
  • Chef Dante Boccuzzi's Ménage à Foie
  • Chef E. Michael Reidt's Arborio Crusted Oysters
  • Chef Rob Boone's Hog Island Oysters with Green Apple
  • Chef Michael Schwartz's Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with Carrot Butter
  • Chef Jody Denton's Tuna Sashimi Roll with Truffle Ponzu Sauce
  • Chef Rick Bayless' Salmon Ceviche with Orange, Capers and Roasted Green Chile
  • Chef Cindy Wolf's Charleston Oysters
  • Chef Cindy Wolf's Sautéed Gulf Shrimp with Andouille Sausage and Tasso Ham
  • Chef Bobby Flay's Crab Cocktail with Avocado, Coconut, Chiles and Fresh Lime
  • Chef Todd Gray's Pan Fried Virginia Oysters served on Creamy Celery RootPurée with Golden Pineapple and Caper Butter
  • Chef Ken Oringer's Celery Root Mousseline with Black Truffle Fondue and Bitter Cocoa
  • Chef Glenn Harris' Crispy Artichokes
  • Chef Norman Van Aken's Maine Lobster Claw & Vanilla in a Sauternes Jelly with Granny Smith Apple, Radishes and Celery Shoots
  • Chef Andrew DiCataldo's Quail with Rose Petals
  • Chef Michael Mina's Oysters Margarita
  • Chef Rick Tramonto's Frog Legs Risotto
  • Chef Michael Taus' Grilled Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Spicy Lobster Toast and Roasted Pineapple Vinaigrette
  • Chef James Laird's Warm Oysters with Julienned Vegetables, Pernod and Caviar
  • Chef Ari Nieminen's Chilled Kumumoto Oysters with American Sturgeon Caviar with Vodka Sauce à la Russe
  • Chef James Boyce's Pacific Oysters with Frozen Champagne Mignonette
  • Chef Patrick Robertson's Tian of Celery Root and Smoked Sturgeon and Fingerling Potato Cups filled with Crème Fraîche and Osetra Caviar
  • Chef Luke Palladino's Sformato Agli Asparagi con Salsa di Aragostae Oove (Asparagus Sformato with Lobster Aioli)
  • Chef Joe Simone's Roasted Oysters Wrapped in Pancetta with balsamic vinegar sauce
  • Chef Eric Blauberg's Raw Oysters served with Cucumber, Lime and Dill Dressing
  • Chef Wayne Nish's Shirred Egg with White Truffles and Baby Potatoes
  • Chef Angel Palacios' Eggplant Soup with Cheese Foam
  • Chef Michelle Bernstein's Lobster Cappuccino
  • Chef Rick Tramonto's Carrot Ginger Soup
  • Chef Elka Gilmore's Chawan Mushi
  • Chef Patrice Caillot's Passion Fruit Soup
  • Chef Nora Pouillon's Curried Shiitake Mushroom Soup with Fenugreek, Ginseng, Oysters and Burdock Root
  • Chefs Jeff Osaka's and Christian Shaffer's Frisée, Lardons, Fried Quail Eggs and Sherry Vinaigrette
  • Chef Daniel Boulud's Crab Salad with Apple Gelée
  • Chef Rudolf Sodamin's Warm Lobster Salad on Baby Lettuce
  • Chef Ari Nieminen 's Chilled Lobster with Fresh Perigord Black Truffles and Pickled Root Vegetable Salad
  • Chef Lobster Del Grande's Lobster with Avocado Salad
  • Chef Cyril Renaud's Goat Cheese and Artichoke Ravioli
  • Chefs Nick Roberts' and Brooke Williamson's Duck Confit
  • Chef. E. Michael Reidt's Braised Beef Short Ribs "Churrasco"
  • Chef Willis Loughhead's Rabbit Confit Cannelloni with Sweet English Peas, Morel Mushrooms and Black Winter Truffle Sauce
  • Chef Brian Goode's Roasted Breast of Squab with Cocoa Sauce, Foie Gras, Cherry Chutney and Belgian Endive
  • Chef Bill Telepan's Braised Wild Striped Bass, Leek Fondue, Vermouth and Caviar with Crushed Carola Potatoes
  • Chef James Laird's Individual Beef Wellington with Green Peppercorn Sauce
  • Chef José Gutierrez's Mélange à Trois of Lobster, Oysters and Scallops Caressed in a Martini Broth
  • Chef Tim Kelly's That Obscure Object of Desire
  • Chef Marcus Samuelsson's Horseradish-Crusted Salmon with Golden Beet Sauce
  • Chefs Johanne Killeen and George Germon's Pappardelle with Poached Egg and Caviar
  • Chef Michael Romano's Bucatini All' Amatriciana
  • Chef Rozanne Gold's Menu for Dinner in Your Silk Pajamas
  • Chef Carole Peck's Adult Baked Macaroni
    The Sweet Finale
  • Pastry Chef Jason Licker's Dulce De Leche Chocolate Tart with Banana Five Spice Ice Cream
  • Chef Norman Van Aken's Havana Bananas with Rhum, Chiles and Chocolate Sauce
  • Chef Willis Loughhead's Grand Marnier Soufflé
  • Chef Hedy Goldsmith's Meyer Lemon Trio
  • Chef François Payard's Rose Petal Sorbet and Crystallized Rose Petals
  • Chef David Jeffries' Chocolate Obsession
  • Chocolatier Robert Linxe's Heart-Shaped Chocolate-Apricot Tart
  • Chef Rick Bayless' Churros
  • Chef Deborah Snyder's Chocolate-Blood Orange Tart with Blood Orange Panna Cotta and Citrus Salad
  • Chef Vicki Wells' Warm Chocolate-Coconut Cake
  • Chef Lee Napoli's Chocolate Espresso Truffles
  • Chef Lee Napoli's Chocolate Heart Soufflé Cake
  • Chef Michael Taus' Fruit Spring Rolls with Ginger-Chocolate Sauce
  • Chef Marcus Samuelsson's Passion Fruit Soufflé
  • Chef James Laird's Pecan-Crusted Warm Chocolate Tart with Secret Center
  • Chef Norman Van Aken's Rhum Flamed Havana Bananas with Chiles, Chocolate and Tropical Fruits
  • Chef John Folse's Bouche Noire
  • Chef Odessa Piper's Baked Passion Fruit Semi Freddo
  • Robert W. Bennett's Signature Chocolate Cake
  • Chef Jerry Traunfeld's Love Potion Sorbet
  • Alan Wong's Hawaiian Vintage Chocolate Crunch Bars Macadamia Nut Brittle
  • Chef Rudolf Sodamin's Pussy Foot Cocktail
    No. 7
  • East West Lounge's The Perfect Pair
  • The Tropicana Club's Gentle and Smooth
  • Providence's Oriental Tangerine
  • Dolce Enoteca's Espresso-Tini Dessert
  • Fat Fish's Sex 'n' Honey
    No. 6
  • Tantra's Tantric Kiss
  • Flatiron Lounge's Sweet Heart Cocktail
  • Restaurant Eve 's Pear of Desire
  • Astral Plane's Chocolate Milkshake Martini
  • Employees Only's Mata Hari
  • Employees Only's Kumquat Sangaree
    No. 5
  • Sumile's Pear Ginger Martini
  • Flatiron Lounge's Cupid’s Potion
  • Grace Restaurant's Roof Garden Cocktail
  • San Domenico NY's San Domenico Cocktail
    No. 4
  • Aquavit's champagne with lime granité
  • Pigalle's pomme fizz
  • Pico's dangerous orbit champagne cocktail
  • Craft's craft cocktail
    No. 3
  • Temple Bar's cosmopolitan
  • Sushisamba 7's sambarita
  • Sushisamba 7's liberdade
  • Mercer Kitchen's lemon drop martini
  • Torch's sweet release
  • Pravda's white chocolate martini
    No. 2
  • Five Points' champagne love shots
  • The Red Cat's starlight
  • Abajour's chocolate martini
  • Sushi Samba 7's chambord mojito with fresh apple mint
  • Bolo's passion fruit sangria
  • Village's blood orange mimosa
  • Torch's fleur de lis
    No. 1
  • Tabla's gingersnap
  • Black Cat's black cat love potion
  • Aquavit's aquavit's aquapolitan
  • Le Colonial's lemongrass cocktail & asian mist cocktail
  • Patria's cherry bomb
  • Samba Grill's caipirinha & batida de maracujar
  • Bix's neal's cosmopolitan
  • Campo's pomegranate passion punch
  • Vong's passion potion & body body crush
  • Tru's tru rose
  • Jancis Robinson's vintage champagne

Breakfast in Bed: 90 Recipes for Creative Indulgences
Jesse Ziff Cool, HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 1997
For the hedonist and the romantic in all of us. Pamper your lover, your kids, or even yourself with this comprehensive cookbook of breakfast in bed recipes and tips. Cool's book is brimming with tantalizing, easy-to-follow recipes for everything from Maple-Baked Pears to Old-Fashioned Bread and Butter Pudding.
Buy This Book

Chocolate Passion: Recipes from the Kitchens of Chocolatier Magazine
Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty, photography by John Uher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2000
Not for the faint at heart. These seasoned chocolate experts combine their passion for the deadly dessert (white, milk and dark varieties) with Uher's luscious photography to create a cookbook that inspires pure sin.
Buy This Book

¡Cuba Cocina!: The Tantalizing World of Cuban Cooking - Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
Joyce LaFray, Hearst Books, 1994
What's hotter than a fiery batch of salsa, with juicy tomatoes, fresh cilantro, and a squirt of lime? Or more irresistible than a rich custard, or Banana Flan with Coconut Rum Sauce? These are just some of the many recipes found in LaFray's gem of a cookbook, which is as mouth-watering as it is informative. Catering to both the novice and expert Cuban cook, she includes a wealth of diverse recipes - both classico and nuevo - from basic sauces to after-dinner cocktails.
Buy This Book

The Paris Cookbook
Patricia Wells, HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2001
Fall in love all over again - Well's devotion to Parisian cuisine is contagious. Play follow the leader as she leads you on a gastronomic adventure through the city of love, unearthing culinary treasures in the restaurants, bistros, markets, and homes of Paris. Her book contains classic French recipes, travel tips, personal stories, and an overflowing love of French food.
Buy This Book

Thai Food
David Thompson, Ten Speed Press, 2002
Spice up your Valentine's Day with an aromatic curry, or choose sweet seduction with perfumed syrup, coconut cream and tropical fruit desserts. The sensuality of Thai food becomes apparent from the first page, as does Thompson's extensive knowledge of the cuisine and culture. From the classic to the obscure, Thompson's recipes offer an informed - and scrumptious - tour of Thai cooking.
Buy This Book

Intercourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook
Martha Hopkins and Randall Lockridge, photography by Ben Fink, Terrace Publishers, 1997
Featuring edible and non-edible treats for the body as well as the plate, this cookbook is the definitive manual for aphrodisiacal cuisine. Pleasure the palate with recipes for 17 of the most well known aphrodisiacs, and complement your cooking with sexy serving suggestions, full-page photographs, and astrological reference guides for you and your lover.
Buy This Book

25 Romantic Cocktails Perfect For Setting The Mood On Valentine’s Day

While a glass of sparkling wine has been known to bring on the romance, these cocktails are pretty and poised to spark some passion on Valentine’s Day.

Olive Me Loves Olive You

Olive Me Loves Olive You at Whitestone Restaurant in Dana Point, California.

At Whitestone Restaurant in Dana Point, California, named after Grammy Award-winning artist John Legend’s hit song “All of Me”, Whitestone’s Olive Me Loves Olive You cocktail is a playful approach to the classic Cosmo with olive oil-washed gin, blood orange shrub, and fresh-pressed cranberry juice. Much like its musical namesake, this cocktail is smooth, sultry, and sure to set the mood this Valentine’s Day. “Ladies love their Cosmos. However, our take on this classic is a great introduction to gin. The olive oil-washing process balances out the juniper, adding an almost-savory, velvety mouthfeel while house made blood orange shrub brings a vibrancy that takes the place of triple sec. The finishing touch adds a bit of bling, with a shimmering gold-dusted dehydrated blood orange,” said beverage consultant Emily Delicce.

Passion at Ivy Lane in New York City.

At Ivy Lane in New York City, the drink features Pimm's, KC Whiskey, raspberry, rhubarb, ginger, lime, and soda. "A seasonally appropriate play on a Pimm’s cup paired with a sherry cask aged whiskey and raspberries that provide the drink with a luscious and rich flavor perfect for A Valentine’s day cocktail,” said head bartender Wilmer Nolasco.

Aperol Sour

Aperol Sour, available on Valentine’s Day at Parker’s Tavern bar at University Arms hotel in . [+] Cambridge, UK.

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Available on Valentine’s Day at Parker’s Tavern bar at University Arms hotel in Cambridge (UK), the Aperol Sour has been specially created by the expert team at Parker’s Tavern for Valentine’s Day using local gin, Cambridge Gin and Italy’s favorite aperitif, Aperol – giving it a pretty pink hue. The bitterness of the lemon juice is perfectly balanced by a flavorsome handmade strawberry and rosemary cordial, creating a delicious and indulgent tipple for the day of love. “At Parker’s Tavern we wanted to create a well balanced Valentine’s Day cocktail, with a slightly pink color to stay on theme… The Aperol Sour is a winning combination of sweet and sour – which perfectly complements our indulgent bar snack menu and promises to satisfy all tastes. My favorite part of this cocktail is the rosemary garnish, which adds an earthy, herby tone,” said Sebastian Bouza, bar manager.

The Grande Dame

The Grande Dame at Nicky’s Coal Fired in Nashville.

At Nicky’s Coal Fired in Nashville, this cocktail is served straight up with apple brandy, dry curacao and lemon. Sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg, The Grande Dame pulls together the crisp apple flavor with the tarte lemon to create a refreshingly intense drink to accompany your evening of love.

Dream Car from Nashville's Butchertown Hall.

If you're looking for an instagram-worthy cocktail this Valentine's Day, the Dream Car from Nashville's Butchertown Hall has the look of love. This hot pink cocktail is crafted with fresh-pressed lime, prickly pear and a house-made rosemary soda, over a base of Vida Mezcal - a Oaxacan favorite adored for its smoky agave, dried fruit and vanilla flavor profiles.

Le Spritz from Nashville's Liberty Common.

If you'd rather be in Paris sipping bubbly this Valentine's Day, Nashville's Liberty Common has the next best thing for you. This Parisian-meets-Southern café offers "Société du Spritz" - a menu dedicated entirely to spritz cocktails, with more than ten options to choose from. Opt for the Le Spritz, a signature combination of Lillet and Pét-Nat that pairs perfectly with oysters for a strong aphrodisiac.

P.S. Ti Amo from Pittsburgh's DiAnoia's Eatery.

Cozy up with your honey at famed Pittsburgh favorite DiAnoia's Eatery and enjoy the P.S. Ti Amo. Mixed with Demerara Syrup, cinnamon plum herbal tea and Grappa from local Pittsburgh distillery Kingfly Spirits, this cocktail makes for a perfect night cap. Ordinarily used with espresso for a Cafe Correcto, the pillowy, rich raisin notes of the Grappa mixed with the spicy-sweet aroma of the plum tea are sure to add an unexpected spice to your evening. “You should always end your night feeling loved, and a little Grappa never hurt,” said Heather Perkins, general manager at DiAnoia's Eatery

Strawberry Cobbler Martini

Strawberry Cobbler Martini at STK Steakhouse.

STK Steakhouse has a martini perfect for Valentine’s Day, made with Belvedere vodka fresh muddled strawberries (a known aphrodisiac) and a graham cracker crust rim. STK’s Strawberry Cobbler Martini is sure to delight and help get couples in the V-Day spirit. “We know all too well how important it is to set the right mood. That is why our Strawberry Cobbler Martini is sure to delight your bae this Valentine’s Day – not to mention its loaded with fresh strawberries to really help ignite the fire and passion!” said Jake Sanderson, bartender at STK.

Strawberry Hibiscus Caipirinha

Strawberry Hibiscus Caipirinha at Fogo de Chao.

At Fogo de Chão locations nationwide, inspired by the flavors of Brazil, Fogo’s popular Strawberry Hibiscus Caipirinha is a seasonal take on the national cocktail of Brazil. Featuring Silver Cachaça, house-made hibiscus syrup, muddled strawberries and lime, the Strawberry Hibiscus Caipirinha is sure to ignite some Brazilian inspired passion. “All of our featured cocktails are designed to capture the spirit of Brazil, showcasing seasonal fruits – like strawberries – and ingredients that are popular in Brazil and on-trend in the United States – like hibiscus. Our Strawberry Hibiscus Caipirinha is hand-crafted with Brazilian tradition in mind using the freshest ingredients and cachaça – Brazilian style rum,” said Neri Giachini, head gaucho chef.

Hibiscus Cosmopolitan

Hibiscus Cosmopolitan at Sullivan's Steakhouse

Sullivan’s Steakhouse has a romantic twist on the classic Cosmopolitan with the addition of fresh hibiscus. The Hibiscus Cosmopolitan is made with premium Ketel One Vodka, St. Germain, hibiscus, cranberry and lime juice. “We all know that flowers are the staple gift for Valentine’s Day, so why not mix things up this year by treating that special someone to one of our signature Hibiscus Martinis? This fruity and floral twist makes it a sweet and boozy treat, perfect for Galentine’s Day gatherings or romantic V-day Dinners for two,” said Karl Benko, lead mixologist for Sullivan’s Steakhouse.

I’m Not Prickly

I’m Not Prickly at Bar Hugo in New York City,

At Bar Hugo in New York City, the I’m Not Prickly is a deliciously fruity cocktail crafted specifically for those looking for love this Valentine’s Day. The cocktail is a wink back to warmer times, and summer romances with its tropical flavors and hints of citrus. “What inspired me to create this drink was that I wanted a drink with exotic ingredients like the Prickly Pear paired with the color of a bright red representing love. The result was more of a light pink but I think the color is still perfect for Valentine’s Day,” said Kevin Montano, bar manager and mixologist.

Burning History Cocktail

Burning History Cocktail at Zuma.

Zuma’s Burning History cocktail is the perfect fiery cocktail to ignite all of the love and passion in your life this year. “Made with a complex combination of smoky and citrus, this cocktail is a twist on the Penicillin libation, with honey, yuzu and egg whites that lend sweet, frothy notes while smoke from wood fire seasons the glass, making for a layered sip. Made with Nikka Coffey Grain Whiskey (not as smoky as the Penicillin’s Scotch), the cocktail’s smoky flavors come from the Macallan barrel stave being heated with a blowtorch causing the smoke to be trapped in an inverted snifter. This cocktail will be sure to fill your romantic evening with “a hunk, a hunk a burning love,” said James Shearer, global beverage director for Zuma (locations around world including New York, Boston, and Miami).

La Diabla at Cantina Rooftop in New York City.

At Cantina Rooftop in New York City, despite its name, La Diabla (or the female devil), is a sweet and refreshing vodka-based cocktail with guava purée, crème de peach, lemon juice and simple syrup. The drink is shaken with egg white and is finished off with an insignia of La Diabla herself! “This sinfully good drink is perfect for the little devil in all of us,” said Luis Lanz, bartender at Cantina Rooftop.

Cupid's Kiss

Cupid's Kiss at Kilkea Castle's pub The Keep and restaurant The Bistro in Ireland.

At Kilkea Castle's pub The Keep and restaurant The Bistro in Ireland, a vodka-based cocktail served on the rocks that blends blood orange liqueur with fresh squeezed orange juice, topped with a splash of Sprite and lemon juice. The cocktail is chopped berries and a sprinkle of white chocolate for garnish. “Kilkea Castle offers the Cupid's Kiss all year round as it is a tasty and refreshing cocktail. The beautiful red is the optimum color for Valentine's, whether it be for a morning brunch or evening apero. It is slightly bubbly, thanks to a dash of lemon juice and Sprite, and goes well with everything from eggs and salads to hors d'oeuvres and sweets,” said Andrew Fairbrother, Kilkea Castle bartender.

Smoked Chocolate Old Fashioned

Smoked Chocolate Old Fashioned at Qespi Bar at the JW Marriott El Convento Cusco.

JW Marriott El Convento Cusco

At Qespi Bar at the JW Marriott El Convento Cusco, chocolate, a delicious ingredient known to many as aphrodisiac for its ability to stimulate the sense of excitement and well-being thanks to a chemical known as Phenythlimine, is the ideal additive for a cocktail to spice things up this Valentine’s Day. The Smoked Chocolate Old Fashioned features chocolate from the nearby Quillabamban, Bourbon, Vermouth Rosso, vanilla bitters, and citrus bitters. "The cocktail itself takes 10 minutes to prepare and watching the elements expertly come together is an amazing experience that guests love to watch,” said Fredy Poccori, head mixologist at Qespi."This cocktail is an experience for the senses!"

Love Potion For Two

Love Potion For Two at Post 390 in Boston.

At Post 390 in Boston, served in a round vessel and filled to the rim with crushed ice, the hot pink Love Potion cocktail is a drink for two, just in time for Valentine’s Day. It is made with rum, falernum, grilled blood orange, tiki bitters, and garnished with exotic dried fruits, a mint sprig, and two straws for sharing. “The Love Potion is the perfect cocktail for sweethearts to share on Valentine’s Day. It is a perfect mix of flavors that give a sense of escape. The Falernum is a syrup that is popular in the Caribbean and includes flavors like ginger, almond, cloves and citrus. It gives it an Island feel,” said Jason Percival, bar manager of Post 390.

Dream in Roses

Dream in Roses at Winter Rose Garden at Dream Downtown.

At Winter Rose Garden at Dream Downtown, this cocktail is red for passion and completed with a romantic rose, the Dream in Roses cocktail provides lovers with sweet and tangy spritz. Romantics can indulge in complementing flavors such as sweet Pama and a tangy Campari, lemon, and topped off with Prosecco. "Dream in Roses was designed for sweethearts who aren't afraid of enjoying some tart and tang with their bubbles,” said Michael Wark, beverage manager at Dream Downtown.

Fantasy Suite Martini

Fantasy Suite Martini at The Graystone Tavern in Chicago.

At The Graystone Tavern in Chicago, paying homage to the nation’s favorite dating and relationship television series, The Graystone Tavern’s seductive Fantasy Suite Martini pairs the soft vanilla tasting notes of Wheatley Vodka with the sweet flavors of Mozart White Chocolate, strawberry cream, white Crème de Cacao, and strawberry, creating a delicious medley that’s perfect for a romantic, rose-filled date night this Valentine’s Day. “I wanted our guests to enjoy our Bachelor viewing parties by creating a fun and delicious cocktail that represented the iconic Fantasy Suite, which also ties perfectly into a sweet cocktail for couples on Valentine’s Day. Wheatley Vodka is always my first choice, as it has a great flavor profile to build from,” said Sam Stone, beverage director.

Sweetheart Margarita

Sweetheart Margarita at the AC Hotel in the National Harbor.

At the AC Hotel in the National Harbor, a riff on a classic margarita made with Sauza tequila, Chambord, fresh lime juice, agave, orange juice and garnished with raspberries. "It's the perfect pairing of sweet and sour. The Chambord's exotic raspberry black currant and vanilla flavors are a wonderful compliment to the tequila. It's a great starter cocktail on your romantic date because it's so fresh and light,” said mixologist Michael Enguy.

Rosé Margarita

Rosé Margarita at Central Taco & Tequila in Westmont, New Jersey.

At Central Taco & Tequila in Westmont, New Jersey, this cocktail is made with Espolon Blanco, fresh lime, Marques de Riscal Rosé, garnished with a sprig of rosemary. "What says Valentine's Day more than a pink margarita? We handcrafted our Margarita of the Month to get that romantic color without sacrificing taste by mixing our house tequila (Espolon), with fresh-squeezed lime juice and a Spanish rosé wine that is bursting with notes of strawberry and raspberry without giving you over-the-top sweetness. And finally, it's not topped with roses but instead a fragrant sprig of rosemary,” said Jake Karley, director of purchasing & planning at PJW Restaurant Group.

The French Kiss

The French Kiss at One Door North in San Diego.

At One Door North in San Diego, this refreshingly sweet cocktail is a romantic spin on an old classic. “The French 75 is a classic cocktail but we added a little romance to ours in celebration of Valentine’s Day by sweetening it up a bit with muddled raspberries and topping it with Prosecco rather than the typical champagne,” said James Anderson, general manager at One Door North.

Sling Rosé at Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun.

Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun.

“Thinking of the vivid moments we spend together in perfect harmony,” is how mixologist Christian Guerrero was inspired to create this beautiful cocktail comprised of coriander sprouts, gin, lime juice, sparks of Bulgarian rose, and a hint of champagne, available at CAVO BAR at Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun.

Biles Fizz at Hotel Barrière Le Majestic in Cannes, France.

Hotel Barrière Le Majestic

At Hotel Barrière Le Majestic in Cannes, France, this vibrant pink drink gets its gorgeous color from a surprising ingredient—beetroot! Infused with beetroot water, London dry gin with notes of pepper and juniper are softened and spirits of Campari and Cachaça, adding sweetness and even richer color. With a pink sugar rim, no cocktail could taste (or look) better on Valentine’s Day! Head bartender, Emanuele Balestra said: “I find [beetroot] to be very attractive for its bright, festive color and even more for its distinctive flavor…it added just the right hint of sweetness and originality.”

By the Fire

By the Fire at Uvae Kitchen and Wine Bar in Chicago.

Uvae Kitchen and Wine Bar

At Uvae Kitchen and Wine Bar in Chicago, a complex, well-balanced blend of New Grove dark rum, herbaceous Vecchio Amaro Del Capo and nutty Oloroso sherry, rounded out with Brovo Jammy Sweet Vermouth. "Valentine’s Day is all about romance and nothing embodies that more than the nuanced feeling conveyed with By the Fire comfort, joy and sensuality. The richness, spice and elegance of this cocktail really shine and will surely ignite a flurry of sparks for whomever enjoys it,” said owner and sommelier Lindsey Anderson.

Love Potion #7

Love Potion #7 at Bobby’s Garage Bar at Bobby Hotel in Nashville.

At Bobby’s Garage Bar at Bobby Hotel in Nashville, Love potion #7 is part of a special menu for Bobby’s Garage Bar Valentine’s Day pop-up, Bleeding Hearts. The cocktail consists of turmeric honey, blended with beet juice and Botanist gin. Citrus and celery bitters are added to round out this sweet and earthy cocktail.

This Valentine’s Day, Take Love Lessons From the Astronauts

Accept your ‘full reality,’ keep little rituals alive and remember you’re still — yes, still — in it together.

Normally I like Valentine’s Day. Some people knock it, but what’s not to like about a heart-shaped declaration of love — or flowers and candy, for that matter? But as my husband and I near the 12th monotonous month in lockdown with our remote-schooling daughter, we’re just not feeling amorous.

With the pandemic’s end at least potentially on the horizon, we’re finding the homestretch difficult. Tempers are frayed. Skirmishes erupt over who took the last brownie, or who gets the cat as a lap-warmer while we watch TV. The bathroom has become prime real estate in which to hide from the rest of our little family. We’re grateful to be healthy, but the tedium is causing our marriage to crack.

So it occurred to me — who better to offer advice on how to keep relationships intact than those forced to live with a few others under extreme and isolating conditions?

“If we were only in lockdown for a couple of months, we’d all be fine,” said Jane Poynter, who spent two years as one of eight crew members in Biosphere 2, the enclosed ecological system in Oracle, Ariz. “But it turns out that when you hit between four and six months, you get into what’s called ‘long duration isolation,’ when people start acting out.”

Chris Hadfield, a retired astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency and author of the upcoming suspense novel “The Apollo Murders,” lived in space for half a year. One of the best coping mechanisms he developed was to accept the “full reality” of his circumstances. “Recognize that this isn’t a timeout in your life, and this isn’t an interruption or an imposition on your life. This is your life,” he said.

But even under such radically changed conditions, rituals from before the pandemic have their place. L. David Marquet, a retired commander of the submarine U.S.S. Santa Fe, once spent 87 days underwater. “It’s a weird combination of isolation and close proximity of individuals in your space, and you never see the sun,” he said. “It’s depressing, like Norway in winter.”

He said that rituals like Valentine’s Day were crucial for buoying morale in close quarters. “On the submarine, we did the best we could to replicate holidays,” he said. “It kept us grounded in the rhythms of the year and the rhythms of life, and this idea that it’s not as abrupt a break from the past as it might seem. We put decorations up.”

If the crew went out from January to June, families would prepare Valentine’s Day cards in December, which were kept in a sealed box and opened on the day. “The sense of ritual is important for human beings, and that applies to the pandemic, too,” he said.

Respecting each other’s space was similarly critical. “On the submarine, bunks were about six feet long, two feet wide,” Cmdr. Marquet said. “And they had a curtain, so when you pulled that curtain, that signaled it was your private space, and we were very respectful of that space and time. Only in the most dire emergencies would you pull the curtain back.” He suggested establishing a firm household rule that if someone is pulling back their figurative curtain for a little private time, even in a small apartment where others can see you, refrain from interrupting.

Humor and perspective were similarly useful below the water. “We’d say things like, ‘Life sucks, but at least the ocean’s not coming into the submarine,’ and we’d laugh,” he said. “Sailors have dark humor, but it helped.”

One informal rule to maintain comity on the sub was to “assume good intent,” Cmdr. Marquet said. “If we bumped into each other on the submarine, we’d just say, ‘Hey, I’m sorry.’” If someone is sharp with you, he suggested not jumping to conclusions. Start by assuming they respect you. Consider that their behavior might be the result of environmental stressors, “which now could be day after day being at home on Zoom calls.”

Mike Massimino, a former NASA astronaut who went on two space shuttle missions, said routine was vital to boost spirits. “Having a regular schedule was very important to us in space,” he said. “When there’s nothing on the schedule, your mind starts wandering.”

To maintain harmony, Mr. Massimino added, clean up after yourself. “In space, if someone’s untidy it could go south quickly.” (Plus, everything floats.)

While routine was important for a sense of normalcy, Ms. Poynter, the “Biospherian,” added: “Every now and then, we found we needed to go a little wild in a positive way, and create an event that pops up out of the background noise of everyday living.” In the Biosphere — remember, this was back in the early ’90s — it was really different and exciting for us to get on the phone and jam music with people around the world.”

Creating different environments within Biosphere 2’s living space was also helpful, she said, pointing out that during the pandemic, we effectively have one setting. In your home, you need to create different types of experiences “so it’s not all this gigantic mush.” Getting on a video call with co-workers, Ms. Poynter said, counts as a different experience, or going for a walk outside with people who aren’t on lockdown with you, even if it’s cold.

Jeffrey Donenfeld, an investment manager who spent three months in Antarctica working as a cook at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, told me what made his time in the remote location bearable. “What got us through was that we all had a mission, that we were all in it together,” he said. “And that’s something I’ve tried to reiterate with my wife and family now, like, ‘We’re having tough times, let’s just stick together and stay safe, and we will get through this.’”

Inspired by this message of maintaining the semblance of normality during abnormal times — and haunted by the vision of lonely submarine sailors opening valentines — my husband, Tom, and I, ensconced in our remote location at home, have decided that since we have celebrated Valentine’s Day in the past, we are going to maintain our little celebratory rituals — chocolates and handwritten notes. After all, even astronaut Chris Hadfield made it a point to have flowers sent to his wife, Helene, on Valentine’s Day — while he was on a months-long mission on the International Space Station.

25 Tasty Fig Recipes to Make the Most Out of Fall's Most Underrated Fruit

Try out these sweet, luscious fruits in delicious apps, desserts and more.

When it comes to the best fruits to add to your recipes, figs are probably the most underrated of the bunch. Not only are these sweet fall fruits delicious, they're also incredibly versatile, adding great flavor to anything from a fresh fall salad to a tasty appetizer dish &mdash not to mention they're simply amazing in jams, pastries and desserts! If you need more ideas on how to incorporate these juicy, flavor-packed bites into your meals, though, we've rounded up some of the best fig recipes here, so you can easily make the most out of these luscious fall fruits when they're in season.

Not sure which recipe to try out first? We've got everything from delicious mains and healthy sides to creative salads, snacks, and finger foods (and don't worry, we didn't forget the essential easy fall dessert recipes, either!). Whether you're enjoying them for breakfast, lunch or dinner, these mouthwatering dishes pair figs together with some of the best flavors of the season, like prosciutto, gorgonzola and even cream cheese and gingersnaps. No matter which of these scrumptious dishes you try, you'll definitely be calling figs your new favorite fruit in no time!

15 Valentine's Day Desserts To Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Whether you're looking to satisfy your craving for chocolate, or you prefer something more unexpected, it's sure to be love at first bite with these treats.

Need a speedy dessert you can whip up in no time? This beautiful rosé champagne cake takes just 1 minute to make.

This vanilla rose cake is a delicately floral dessert, best served by candlelight and alongside a bouquets of, you guessed it, more roses.

Dense flavorful frangipane topped with a lattice of pretty pink rhubarb &mdash what could be more festive?

This festive and heart-warming fruit crumble combines a mouthwatering fruit filling with red wine, with more served on the side, of course!

Prepare beautiful creamy tarts that pair fragrant rose with tart pomelo, and are capped off with a plume of toasted meringue.

Bake a sweet treat for your sweetheart this Valentine's Day, and make a batch of these fluffy, marbled raspberry cheesecake brownies.

This lovely cake is as decadent as it is beautiful. Serve up with glasses of celebratory bubbly for a perfect Valentine's Day dessert.

Soft and airy, these handheld cakes are a French bakery staple. Conjure up Paris at dawn with the sweet smell of madeleines fresh out of the oven.

Eschew the chocolate this year, and whip up a light, moist pear cake instead. Your significant other will surely feel like royalty.

While traditional clafoutis are studded with cherries, this recipe calls for only dark, bittersweet chocolate, butter, eggs, and a touch of sugar. The result is a decidedly smooth, chocolatey dessert.

Delicate puff pastry makes a perfect canvas for the complex flavors of strawberry and rhubarb to mingle together in harmony.

If you're planning a Valentine's Day party or dinner, whip up a batch of these layered desserts in advance. Your guests will delight over their single servings.

Caffeine fans will instantly fall for this creamy parfait, which gets its flavor from delectable coffee liqueur.

If you're really ready to challenge yourself this Valentine's Day, it may be time to try your hand at a chocolate soufflé. Just be warned, the decadent dessert takes plenty of patience.

Take a childhood favorite up a few notches with this sophisticated take on ice cream sandwiches. It's the perfect way to indulge the kid in you.

Quilt Inspiration

Within this collection of 50+ free patterns you will find quilts, wall hangings, table runners, and pillows happy hearts, broken and mended and scrappy hearts in short, a heart for every occasion. To go to a pattern: Scroll down the page until you see the quilt you like, then click on the words "CLICK for PDF download" (or the hyperlinked website name) in the title above the quilt.

Note: Please check out our eBay shop for great bargains on quilt patterns, fabric, and vintage collectible items !

Jelly Roll Hearts Table Runner, free tutorial by Kristina Brinkerhoff for Moda Fabrics (CLICK for tutorial)

5” square, free pattern by Kathryn Wagar Wright at Quilters Newsletter (CLICK for PDF download)

Full Heart quilt, 476" square, free pattern by Tamara Kate for Windham Fabrics (CLICK for PDF download)

Made With Love quilt, 30 x 36", free pattern at Fabric Editions (CLICK for PDF download)

55 x 73”, free pattern by Amy Butler Design (CLICK for PDF download)

Pixelated Heart Quilt, 75 x 75", free pattern by Blue Elephant Stitches for Robert Kaufman (CLICK for PDF download)

Sweethearts quilt, 48 x 60", free pattern at Cloud 9 Fabrics (CLICK for PDF download)

60 x 80", free pattern by Jessica Stern and Stacey Day for Dear Stella Design (CLICK for PDF download)

I Heart Pink quilt, 42 x 52", free pattern at Robert Kaufman (CLICK for PDF download)

I Heart You mini quilt, 10 x 20", free pattern at Cluck Cluck Sew (CLICK for tutorial)

Heart Tree quilt tutorial by Jackie White at Quilt Social (CLICK for tutorial)

Four Patch Heart mini quilt, 26” square, free pattern by Amanda Niederhauser for ThermoWeb
(CLICK for tutorial)

Sweetheart mini quilt, 20 "square, tutorial at Craft Buds (CLICK for tutorial)

Keep the Heart Truth Growing, free wall hanging pattern by Jane Spolar for Janome
(CLICK for PDF template) (scroll down to see the matching pillow)

Twisting Heart Valentine, 18" square, tutorial by Connie Kresin (CLICK for tutorial)

Heartsome quilt, 60 x 80”, free pattern at Art Gallery Fabrics (CLICK for PDF download)

Valentine’s Day quilt, 95” square, free pattern at Pink Door Fabrics (CLICK for tutorial)

Love in Chains quilt, 54 x 64”, free pattern by Shelly Pagliai for Dear Stella Design (CLICK for PDF download)

Hearts Afloat quilt, free pattern by Bev Getschel for Quiltmaker (CLICK for PDF download)

Dear Heart quilt, 72 x 84”, free pattern at Studio E Fabrics (CLICK for PDF download)

78 x 78”, free pattern at Riley Blake Designs (CLICK for PDF download)

Hugs and Kisses quilt, 84 x 84”, free pattern at Studio E Fabrics (CLICK for PDF download)

Simple Wishes Quilt, 52 x 55”, tutorial by Stephanie Palmer of Late Night Quilter for Moda Fabrics (CLICK for PDF download)

I Heart Chevrons quilt tutorial by Modern Handcraft (CLICK for tutorial)

Lots of Love quilt by Tamara Kate for Michael Miller Fabrics (CLICK for PDF download)

Cupid's Arrow Quilt by Tamara Kate for Michael Miller Fabrics (CLICK for PDF download)

Hearts A Flutter Quilt, 57 x 69", free pattern by Heidi Pridemore for Michael Miller (CLICK for PDF download)

Big Love Quilt, 54 x 62", tutorial by Modern Handcraft (CLICK for tutorial)

Improv Valentine wall quilt, 36 x 36", tutorial by Erica Jackman at Kitchen Table Quilting for Moda Fabrics (CLICK for PDF download)

Latitude heart quilt, 70 x 70", free pattern at United Notions (CLICK for PDF download)

Smitten quilt, 71 x 85", by Barb Tourtillotte for Clothworks (CLICK for PDF download)

Valentine Hearts cuddle quilt, 60 x 72", free pattern at Shannon Fabrics (CLICK for PDF download)

True Love quilt, 72 x 85”, free pattern by Amy Butler for Free Spirit Fabrics (CLICK for PDF download)

Heart You mini quilt, 20 x 20", free tutorial at Tied with a Ribbon (CLICK for tutorial)

29 x 30", by Robin Nelson at Craft Sisters for Moda Bakeshop (CLICK for PDF download)

Hearts for You quilt, 37 x 44", free pattern at Riley Blake Designs (CLICK for PDF download)

Heart Strings, 27 x 27", wall hanging or table topper by Deborah Vollbracht for Pellon (CLICK for PDF download)

Love Emblem Throw, 50 x 50", or pillow (18"square), free pattern by Anna Maria Horner (CLICK for PDF download)

Heart Strings quilt, 48 x 60", free pattern by Marie Cole for Henry Glass Fabrics (CLICK for PDF download)

Valentine heart quilt tutorial, mosaic collage method, by Terri Stegmiller at Stegart (CLICK for PDF download)

Heart Tree applique pattern by Liz Jones, free applique pattern at American Quilter (CLICK for PDF download template)

Have a Heart, free quilt pattern by Nina Lise Moen (CLICK for PDF download)

Scrappy Heart Quilt by Cindy Carter at Carter Quilter (CLICK for tutorial there are seven different free hearts patterns at this link)

Be Still My Heart quilt tutorial by Jacquie Gering at Tallgrass Prairie Studio (CLICK for tutorial)

Hug Me, 56 x 78", free pattern by Sue Zipkin for Clothworks (CLICK for PDF download)

Love in Bloom, 60 x 73", free pattern by Fresh Designs for Henry Glass (CLICK for PDF download)

Faded Hearts quilt, 72 x 72”, free pattern by Tula Pink for Free Spirit Fabrics (CLICK for PDF download)

44 x 57”, free pattern by Heather Bailey for Free Spirit Fabrics (CLICK for PDF download)

My Heart free quilt and banner patterns by Nanette Merrill at Freda's Hive (CLICK for tutorial)

En Pointe quilt, 47 x 72", free pattern by Janet Page Kessler at Benartex (CLICK for PDF download)

Key to My Heart, 48 x 48”, free quilt pattern by Beth Logan for Henry Glass (CLICK for PDF download)

Hearts On Fire mini quilt, 14 x 17", free pattern by Cindy Cooksey for Lark Crafts (CLICK for PDF download)

Penny Love Mini Quilt, 18 x 18", free pattern by Sew Sweetness for Aurifil (CLICK for PDF download)

Patchwork Heart Pillow tutorial by Minki Kim for We All Sew (CLICK for tutorial)

Quilted Heart Cushion tutorial by Mack and Mabel (CLICK for tutorial)

Valentine's Day Granny Square by Nicole Daksiewicz for Janome (CLICK for PDF download)

Bursting Heart Pillow tutorial by Blue Susan Makes (CLICK for tutorial)

Keep the Heart Truth Growing pillow, free pattern by Jane Spolar for Janome (CLICK for PDF template)

Quilted Valentine Hearts Pillow tutorial by Ellie Roberts at Craft Sew Create (CLICK for tutorial)

Gathered Heart Pillow by Vanessa Christenson at V and Co (CLICK for tutorial)

Faux Chenille Valentine Pillow by Amy at Ameroonie Designs (CLICK for tutorial)

Smothered in Kisses Pillow by Amy at Ameroonie Designs (CLICK for tutorial)

Candy Heart Pincushion, free pattern by Karen Smith at Practically Pippy (CLICK for tutorial)

Serving Up Love table runner, 27 x 61”, free pattern by Heidi Pridemore for Timeless Treasures (CLICK for PDF download)

Love You placemat tutorial by Gigi’s Thimble at A Little Bit Biased (CLICK for tutorial)

Shades of Love table runner tutorial by During Quiet Time for Art Gallery Fabrics (CLICK for PDF download)

Be Mine table runner, 16 x 38", by Sherri Falls at This and That Patterns (CLICK for PDF download)

Sweethearts table runner, 21 x 49", tutorial by Harding Hill Designs (CLICK for tutorial)

Mini Heart, 12.5 x 10.5", tutorial by Jayme at Finding Sweet Land (CLICK for tutorial)

Paper-pieced Broken Heart by Jennifer Ofenstein at Sew Hooked (CLICK for free pattern)

Jimmy Beans' Mystery Sew Red Sew-A-Long block, 6 x 16", free applique pattern by Marcia at Happy Stash Quilts (CLICK for tutorial)

This ambitious Mallomars-inspired recipe is a project: Make the (wheat-free!) cookie base and top with marshmallow on day one enrobe in chocolate on day two.

Cold bits of butter in the dough ensure flaky scones. And 4 tsp. of Diamond Crystal kosher salt may sound like a lot, but it makes all the difference.

Recipes you want to make. Cooking advice that works. Restaurant recommendations you trust.

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BUMMER: A big box of assorted chocolates → STUNNER: Bars they can use

Boxes of chocolate are all build-up and no payoff. The initial reveal is magical: rows of neatly nestled treats and a multi-page guide to the flavor of each one (debatably the best part, I love a manual). But after three bites, it’s hard not to think, Are all of my teeth going to fall out? And also, What am I supposed to do with the rest of this?

This year, give the gift of (fancy, celebratory) chocolate without the burden of finding a home for dozens of leftover too-sweet truffles. For the baker in your life, snag a few of the highest quality baking bars you can find, ready to be chopped and folded into cookie dough or melted down into ganache—and pray you get a bite of the result as a reward for your thoughtfulness. Add a bar or two for snacking to get those instant gratification points as well: err on the side of dark chocolate with a twist, mixed, perhaps, with saffron and rose brittle or bananas foster.

Love (18)

Indeed, the message that comes through loudest of all is that love is simple and can be symbolized by the smallest things. Perfect for balancing the commercialism of Valentine's Day.?Kirkus Reviews, starred review

This uplifting book looks at the myriad ways that love is expressed and shared in a child's world.?School Library Journal

From award-winning author Stacy McAnulty comes a sweet story about love and what it’s really all about.

What is love? Can you only express it in fancy meals, greeting cards, and heart-shaped chocolates? Kids will find love everywhere in this delightful book. It can be found in everyday moments such as baking cookies with grandma, notes from Mom in your lunchbox, or a family singing together on a car trip, and it isn’t always what you expect!

With delightful illustrations by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff and sweetly simple prose by award-winning author Stacy McAnulty, this is the perfect book to teach children what love means, why it’s important, and how they can spread the love in their daily lives."

Airy Elegance: 11 Soufflé Recipes

A simple cheese soufflé is the classic interpretation of a savory soufflé. This version features nutty, popular Parmesan cheese and a hint of spicy cayenne pepper.

Creamy yet fluffy, these savory carrot pudding soufflés are seasoned with shallot, bay leaf, nutmeg, and ginger. Serve them as the main course of a light lunch.

Soufflés are much simpler to make than you think. For this recipes, just stir egg yolks and spinach into cheese sauce to create your base.

Serve these ethereal chocolate soufflés for an elegant after-dinner sweet. Pop them in the oven as you're finishing the main course and they'll be perfectly timed for dessert.

Traditional lemon-flavored soufflés are a refreshingly light end to a meal. To help them rise properly, use upward brush strokes to butter the dishes.

Mashed sweet potatoes aren't just a tasty side dish &mdash they also make a maple-sweet showstopper dessert.

Airy and elegant, these individual desserts surprise with the tang of red grapefruit and fresh ginger.

Bake this warm caramel soufflé for a memorable dessert. The recipe comes from chef Pierre Schaedelin of Benoit in New York City.

Layers of paper-thin buttery phyllo overlap to form a delicate base for a sweet potato soufflé.

Frozen soufflés typically achieve their fluffy consistency through whipped cream instead of whipped egg whites. These individual strawberry desserts are perfect for a luncheon or a baby shower.

Frozen soufflés are less fragile than baked souffles and can be made a day in advance. Crème de menthe and powdered green tea flavor pillowy soufflés are gorgeous frozen and served in tiny porcelain dishes.

Watch the video: Happy valentinsdag (January 2022).