A well-played Valentine’s Day sets the tone for the next few months of your love life: Do it right and you’ll bask in good post-V-Day vibes the rest of the winter; screw it up and you could regret it for ages.
Once you’ve considered every possible Valentine’s Day gift idea and you’re confident with your selection (a cheap gift can make a good gift, by the way), focus on enjoying the evening—though this takes planning.
Most any holiday is an invitation to let loose, but too many drinks can add up. Remember that Valentine’s Day is ultimately about helping your lover feel relaxed and appreciated—so don’t ruin your best-laid plans by, um, over-celebrating. Instead, try these tips to enjoy Valentine’s Day drinking without getting unnecessarily tipsy.
Making your night last longer is as simple as shifting down on your usual beverage of choice. If that’s beer, pick a lighter bottle. Session ales are specifically brewed to have less alcohol than other craft beers, but any light beer will do. Ordering a shandy (a mix of beer and non-alcoholic soda, ginger ale or lemonade) classes up your suds while making them less potent, and a spritzer offers the same option for white wine fans.
Cocktail drinkers are in luck, since many can be mixed or tweaked to have slightly less alcohol. Negroni fans, for example, should instead try an Americano. Both use vermouth and a bitter, like Campari, but the Americano includes soda water in lieu of gin.
For a highball, skip the hard stuff and try a vermouth and soda. Vermouth has a slightly higher alcohol content than wine, but a lower one than most spirits, usually falling between 15 and 18 percent ABV. It has less booze (and calories!) than a mixed drink featuring vodka, rum or whisky. Plus, a good vermouth will give the drink a unique herbal flavor. You can even swap out pretty much any traditional hard liquor for this lighter spirit.
Valentine’s Day Nightcap: Sexy Spritz
Once you’re both home safely, relax and mix this Champagne-based cocktail to set the mood. While the Aperol Spritz is pretty and romantic enough to serve as a mid-winter Valentine’s Day warmer, it’s also quite refreshing.
Beloved by hip young Europeans, the Spritz is so simple you won’t need much to make it, and, mixed gently, it has a lovely, red-sunset fade effect that will have your date swooning. Aperol offers a sweeter, more inviting base than some Italian bitter liqueurs, but if you’re feeling daring, you can substitute Campari for a sharper cocktail. You can also swap out the Aperol for a half-ounce of fruit-flavored liqueur (lychee and mango flavors are both tasty) to create a more dessert-like drink.
- Fresh orange slice
- .75 oz Aperol
- Champagne or other sparkling wine such as cava or prosecco
- Sprig of fresh rosemary, for garnish
Garnish: Orange slice and rosemary sprig
Mash a one-inch chunk of orange into the bottom of a tall glass, then add Aperol. Fill glass generously with ice, and top with sparkling white wine. Garnish with a thin slice of fresh orange and the rosemary sprig.