We all love a great cocktail, especially one we’ve enjoyed during our travels or with someone special. Cocktails from around the world are always a good way to start a romantic evening, a sensuous rendezvous, or a sexy night out on the town. These classic cocktails from eight different countries are all easy to make. I’ve also include additional ways to turn up the heat and add a little spice, by offering a romantic twist or two.
If the typical margarita is just too strong for you, as it is for me, then you’ll love the paloma. It’s a lighter version, but the taste is so crisp and divine. In Mexico, the paloma is even more popular than the margarita and so when we visit that’s what we order, just like the locals. Here’s the recipe for a pair of palms:
2 shots (3 ounces) of a good-quality white tequila
1 shot (1.5 ounces) of lime juice
Pinch of salt
12 ounces of grapefruit soda (there’s a widely available Mexican Jarritos brand)
Combine the white tequila, lime juice, and a pinch of salt in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice, cover, and shake for about 30 seconds. Pour it into two tall glasses over ice and top with grapefruit soda. To add a lit- tle spice, add a twist of jalapeño (remove all of the seeds from the spicy pepper and slice it into thin, long swivel sticks—one stick per glass). Rimming the glasses with celery salt will play nicely and balance beautifully with the tequila, citrus, and jalapeño. As you’re sipping, if the cocktail feels spicy enough, simply remove your swivel stick and enjoy. It really is the taste of Mexico all in one glass.
That Cuban cocktail the mojito, is one very sexy and effervescent drink. I really like mine on the sweeter side with lots of mint. Here’s what you’ll need for four delicious mojitos:
4 handfuls of fresh mint, plus more sprigs for garnish
2 limes cut into small wedges
4 tablespoons turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
4 shots (6 ounces) of white rum (I use Havana Club of course)
8 shots (12 ounces) of club soda
In the bottom of four glasses, muddle the mint, lime, and turbinado sugar until well blended. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the rum, cover, and shake for 25 seconds. Strain and pour the chilled rum into the four glasses, fill with more ice cubes, then top it with the club soda. To add an air of beauty and romance to a mojito, simply include fresh blueberries to the mix. I call this a Bruised Mojito. Add a palmful of blueberries to each glass along with the lime wedges, mint, and sugar during the muddling stage. This will give it the desired “bruising” that you’ll need. Then continue with the directions by adding the chilled rum, ice cubes, and soda. Garnish with sprigs of mint and maybe a few more fresh blueberries. This will also work with frozen berries. The color and sweeter flavor of a Bruised Mojito will bring out the inner Cuban in you for a steamy night.
The Singapore Sling is a tropical cocktail. It was created to appeal to British visitors looking for a fruity drink in Singapore back in the early 1900s. Over the better part of the century, the Singapore Sling waned down to nothing more than gin and grenadine, leaving out the fruit brandy altogether. Now, with the emergence of full classic flavors in cock- tails for the past ten years, the Singapore Sling has been making its comeback. Here’s what you’ll need for two cocktails:
2 shots (3 ounces) of gin
1 shot (1.5 ounces) of Cointreau
2 shots (3 ounces) of pineapple juice
1 lime, juiced
2 dashes of grenadine
2 splashes of soda water
Garnish: cherries, orange and pineapple slices
Fill your trusty cocktail shaker with the gin, pineapple and lime juices, Cointreau, and the grenadine. Cover and shake for about 30 seconds. Strain into two tall glasses. Top them off with your soda water and garnish with a cherry, an orange slice, and a pineapple spear. This is a beautiful and delicious cocktail. To make it more delicious, add a shot of cherry brandy (I like Cherry Heering) in each glass, which is more in-keeping with the classic Singapore Sling anyway. As a sexy garnish, I always use a fresh, pitted black cherry, never maraschinos.
The Pimm’s Cup is a classic British cocktail invented by James Pimm in 1859. It’s a sophisticated drink that plays on bitters, but you can totally sweeten it up. My twist is to add 1/3 cup of fresh lemonade. Here’s what you’ll need:
3 ounces Pimm’s No. 1
4 ounces of ginger ale
3 slices or 2 spears of thick English cucumber
1 slice each of orange, lime, and lemon
6 ounces (3/4 of a cup) of fresh lemonade Ice cubes
Combine the Pimm’s and fresh lemonade in a shaker that holds at least 16 ounces of liquid. Fill the rest with ice
cubes. Cover and shake for 30 seconds. Strain the shaken mixture into a high-ball or tall pilsner glass and stir/mix in the ginger ale. Garnish with the cucumber, orange, lemon, and lime slices. You will have created a very tasty cocktail that’s not too bitter or too sweet. The original Pimm’s Cup Cocktail has strawberries. For a romantic touch, place sliced strawberries in your ice cube trays and fill the trays with the fresh lemonade. Place the cubes in the glass first, then the citrus slices. As it thaws in your cocktail, you’ll get an extra burst of flavor to enjoy.
A Kir Royale cocktail is made with crème de cassis, a liqueur made from black currants. The name itself sounds exotic, rich, and fancy, doesn’t it? My family has been drinking Kir Royales for generations. Let me show you how to romanticize the famous French cocktail. For two great-tasting Kir Royales, all you need is:
12 ounces of the very best Champagne you can afford
1 full shot (1.5 ounces) of crème de cassis
2 lemon twists for garnish
Simply pour a 1⁄2 shot (.75 ounces) of the crème de cassis into the bottom of a Champagne flute, and then follow it up with the Champagne. Garnish with the lemon twist, and you’ll have the classic Kir Royale. If you want to make it just a bit sexier, add some black, red, or white currants inside the glass before you pour. The berries have been widely avail- able here in the States since.
The caipirinha is the National drink of Brazil made with cachaça—a liquor derived from sugarcane. Cachaça is very sweet and has a rum-like flavor. It dates back to the 1500s. Caipirinhas are very sensual cocktails and after drinking one or two, you’ll swear you’re hearing the sounds of samba playing in your head. It can make for a romantic night indeed! Make these one at a time (doubling the recipe really does change the chemistry of these ingredients). No shaker necessary.
1 shot (1.5 ounces) of cachaça
1 teaspoon turbinado sugar (like Sugar in the Raw)
Cut-up 2 lime wedges
A splash of lemon-lime soda
Muddle the cut-up lime wedge with the raw sugar in the bottom of a tall glass until well mixed. Add the ice cubes, then the cachaça, and soda. Be sure to give it a quick stir and serve immediately. For a romantic touch, pierce a strawberry (heart) with a thin arrow (sugarcane) to garnish your caipirinhas. Stalks of sugar cane can be found anywhere these days. It’s easy to trim and cut into the shape you need.
In Italy, they love the bellini—it’s their answer to the mimosa, which is popular in the USA and elsewhere. Instead of sparkling wine with orange juice, in Italy they mix sparkling wine with peach puree or peach nectar. Here’s all you need to create this very romantic drink. All you need is:
1 Bottle of Prosecco
Peach juice or nectar
To make this rather simple but delicious cocktail, you may use yellow peach puree or nectar, but I make it the original way and that calls for white peaches. I purée two whole white peaches (remove skins and stone-pit) in my blender and I add two rasp- berries. The addition of my raspberries is to give a pretty pink blush color to the drink. The original Bellini made in the 1930s actu- ally used a bit of raspberry juice or cherry juice to achieve this pink glow. I, however, feel that those fruit juices compromise the peach flavor, although raspberry-peach is a classic flavor combination. Place two tablespoons of the fresh purée to the bottom of Champagne flute, and slowly fill with Prosecco to the foamy top. I then garnish with one raspberry in the glass. It’s beautiful, it’s romantic, and it’s rather sexy too.
Everyone is familiar with sangria, right? I mean, it’s rich, spicy, fruity, and sweet—all perfect elements for a great wine cocktail. In current news, the use of the word sangria in and on labels is now restricted under European law. Only sangria made in Spain and Portugal will be allowed to be sold under that name after the European Parliament green-lighted new wine labeling in January 2014, making sangria more expensive than ever. Good thing my boyfriend’s not crazy about red wine anyway, so I make a sangria blanca like they do in Argentina. It’s lighter, fruitier, less spicy (no cinnamon), and still accentuates those romantic moments together.
2 bottles of dry white (I use a sauvignon blanc or moscato wine.)
1/2 cup of real Spanish sherry
1/2 cup of Cointreau
1/4 cup white sugar
Seedless green grapes Orange slices
Green apples (Granny Smith) A lemon
2 peaches unpeeled, pitted, and sliced
1/2 liter club soda
Pour the white wine, sherry, and Cointreau in a large glass pitcher or large glass dispenser. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Add your fruit all sliced up, but keep your grapes whole, stir again. If serving immediately, add ice to a glass and then pour the white sangria, add club soda, and enjoy. If sharing your white sangria later, refrigerate and chill for up to 24 hours. When ready, just add club soda (no ice) and serve. For special romantic occasions, like Valentine’s Day, I like to add halved strawberries, they resemble rounded hearts. Add kiwi slices too, it looks so pretty in this sangria blanca.