It doesn’t matter which version of the holiday you’re celebrating—Valentine’s, Galentine’s or just another Friday happy hour—it’s an evening built for tossing them back and letting the hair down. Bartenders know this and tend to cheekily play it up this time of year. Shaking things up on the menus of local bars and restaurants, find a seductive roundup of specialty craft cocktails to revel in courtship, love, friendship, vodka, your dog—whatever you want to toast to, we’re showing up for it.
From the Champagne Cocktail of D’usse Cognac, bitters and sparkling, to the Chocolate Clover Club with Bombay, lemon, raspberries, chocolate and egg white, Libby’s Neighborhood Brasserie invites couples to snug in the lounge or out on the patio with the outdoor heaters. And for parties of five or more, Lemon Tree Kitchen will offer a complimentary bucket of champagne, with each flute filled with fresh rose petals for a floral twist. At Blase Bistro, the Party for One cocktail salutes the singles mingling with a feisty mix of muddled strawberries, Kettle One Vodka, Giffard’s Fraise des Bois, balsamic, black pepper and a top off of rosé.
To catch a fiery sunset on the Sage rooftop is to indulge in a featured cocktail menu centered around classic love stories. Find Juliet’s Poison Potion, served with Nobets gin, Grait Grappa, cinnamon plum syrup, lemon and housemade kombucha. After a romantic stroll on Lido Beach, head to Tommy Bahama for the Valentine’s Blush, with Hendrick’s gin, ruby red grapefruit juice, St. Germain, a splash of soda and sprigs of tarragon. For dessert, saunter over to Phillippi Creek for a Chocolate Strawberry Martini, filled with vanilla and chocolate vodka, French strawberry liqueur and vanilla cream, drizzled with chocolate syrup.
After a rendezvous cruise out on the Manatee River, dock the boat in at Pier 22 to partake in the Cupid Shuffle. Your choice to get up and dance if you want, but the martini itself is made with classic Baileys, vanilla vodka and a cherry twist and sugar crystal rim. For the guys, the Bourbon Cherry Crush, featuring Jim Beam Black extra-aged bourbon and housemade sour, may give you the liquid courage you need to finally ask that cutie out you’ve had your eye on. And at Grove, grab your girls, put on your finest heels to chill in the lounge to avoid heartbreak, while sipping Cupid’s Heartbreak, a sweet strawberry and lemon cocktail with Grey Goose, rhubarb liqueur and prosecco topper.
What would the international day of hearts be without a few bubbly glasses and velvety martinis to get in the mood? Cheers to being a smooth operator this Valentine’s. Snag these limited-time creations while you can this weekend. Please drink responsibly.
Pictured clockwise from top left: Juliet’s Poison Potion – Sage; Cupid’s Heartbreak – Grove; Cupid Shuffle Martini and Bourbon Cherry Crush – Pier 22; Champagne Cocktail and Chocolate Clover Club – Libby’s; Chocolate Strawberry Martini – Phillippi Creek; Valentine’s Blush – Tommy Bahama.