I just can’t help it. The romantic in me insists that I treat the entire month of February as one long celebration of St. Valentine’s Day, which for me means a series of dinners tête-a-tête with my wife, Colette. And what could be more appropriately cuddly after a goo-goo-eyed dinner than a liqueur called a cordial?
Cordial liqueurs abound. There are the old favorites, like Disoranno Amaretto, Frangelico and Kahlua, as well as brand-new ones invented, often quite disastrously, every other day. Many drink these sweet after-dinner sippers straight up or on ice, but the current trend is to turn them, like everything else in a bartender’s arsenal, into cocktails. Some of these creations are unfit for consumption beyond the bounds of Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory, while others, like the one featured here, succeed admirably.
Peter Whiteley has presided behind the bar in the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota’s Ca d’Zan Lounge since the hotel’s opening day. He also just happens to be the creator of the chocolate martini frequently voted best by readers of this magazine. Shamelessly, we returned to the oracle in search of just the right cordial cocktail to follow a romantic dinner for two. Mr. Whiteley did not fail us.
His Ooh La La My Love Martini, a sort of liquid version of créme brûlée, is a dream come true for lovers of creaminess in all its many forms. Its secret heart is Licor 43, a bright yellow Spanish cordial compounded of citrus and fruit juices and flavored with a total of 43 aromatic herbs and spices, including a strong note of vanilla. Here’s Mr. Whiteley’s recipe:
THE OOH LA LA MY LOVE MARTINI
2.5 ounces Van Gogh vanilla vodka
1 ounce Licor 43
A dash of Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur
1.5 ounces crème anglaise (or melted Häagen Dazs vanilla ice cream, if your garde manger has the day off)
Combine ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker and shake as though your love life depended upon it.
Strain the mixture into a martini stem rimmed with raw sugar.
Top with a sprinkle of raw sugar and a vanilla bean.
An editor, writer and online publisher, John Bancroft has reviewed restaurants, books, movies and music for many magazines, Web sites and newspapers, most recently for the St. Petersburg Times.