Valentine’s Day Drink Picks from Seattle Bartenders

Six sublime shakers tell us their favorites for the most romantic day of the year

By Seattle Mag February 11, 2016


The heart-iest day of the year is just a few days away. Herewith, we’ve rounded up some top Seattle shakers and asked them a few questions about the best romantic drinks, to help ensure everyone has a successful Valentine’s Day:

1. What do you think the most romantic cocktail of all time is, and why?

2.  If someone’s on a first date and asks for a drink suggestion, what do you suggest? Third date?

3. What drinks do you think you’ll be serving most at the bar on Valentine’s Day?

4. What drink will you be having? 

Jesse Cyr, Rob Roy

1. A Champagne cocktail is a good romantic drink. It’s not “just” a glass of Champagne, but instead a really simple cocktail that has subtle depth to it. A hint of sweet and bitter from the Angostura soaked sugar cube and a bright citrus nose from the lemon zest. If you use a nice dry Champagne, this cocktail is a great romantic beverage in my opinion.

2. If it’s a first date, I’d recommend keeping it simple and not getting anything too boozy. No need to get buzzed and make a bad impression, right? I’d say go for something like a Negroni or a Bamboo. They’re both low ABV, delicious, and make you look classy for knowing your cocktails.

For the third date, you should both be starting to know each other a little better and getting more comfortable. So why not step it up a notch and get yourself a nice pour of Scotch or brandy? If you’re not into the brown spirits, a martini is a great option to elevate your drinking game.

3. My best guess is a lot of sparkling wine and cocktails topped with sparkling wine. Champagne has always been associated with love and Valentine’s Day. I don’t expect that trend to change any time soon.

4. I’ll most likely start by drinking wine with my dinner. A big, bold red from Bordeaux would be my guess, then I’ll switch to brandy for dessert. Brandy is such an underappreciated spirit. It’s definitely in my top three (if not #1 itself) preferred spirits. On its own or in cocktails, it doesn’t matter. The possibilities are endless!


Madisyn Scribner, Witness

1. The Black Manhattan made with Maker’s 46 is the most romantic cocktail of all time, because it is simultaneously simple and complex. It is a cocktail that explores the flavor spectrum, ranging from sweet, to bitter, to herbal, with hints of dried fruit and orange peel. This is a cocktail that embodies the various compelling layers of romance.

2. Whether it’s a first date, or a third date, I like to recommend a round of shots to get things started. It’s a move that everyone wants to make, whether they realize it or not. It helps to have someone else instigate, and I’m happy to be the instigator.

3. In addition to lots of shots, I’ll be recommending classic spirit-forward cocktails. You can’t go wrong with something simple like a Sazerac, Vieux Carré, or the aforementioned Black Manhattan.

4. Bubbles, straight from the bottle. It’s my Valentine’s Day tradition.

Andy McClellan, Westward

1. The Negroni, it’s a lot like romance. It’s sweet, it’s bitter, it’s complicated but goes down easy. 

2. Ease into your date, don’t go straight for the hard stuff if you think there is potential for more dates. Order a moderately priced bottle of sparkling wine (Prosecco, Cremant, or Cava). 

3. Hopefully lots of bubbles and then shots of tequila.

4. Champagne, for sure.  And the Blood Moon Love cocktail. If any readers feel like making it, here’s the recipe: Add ice and 1.5 ounce Neisson Agricole Rhum Blanc, 0.5 ounce Gran Classico, 0.5 ounce lemon juice, and 1 ounce blood orange shrub to a shaker. Double strain into your favorite cocktail glass and top off with 1 ounce Blanc de Blanc Champagne. Express oils from a wide lemon peel over the glass and garnish with blood orange slice. To make the Blood Orange Shrub, juice and peel 8 blood oranges and combine (peels, too) with 4 cups fine white sugar in a large sealable container.

Refrigerate for two days. After two days, stir to dissolve left over sugar at the bottom of the container. Add 4 cups Sherry vinegar and refrigerate for another day. Remove peels. Holds for a couple weeks.

Perryn Wright, Teacher’s Lounge

1. I like the classic Champagne cocktail. Simple and elegant, a touch sweet, and just so cool looking. 

2. For a first date, I like variations on the Americano cocktail.  Swapping the vermouth and/or amaro, you can get great flavors, but low octane.  Let’s them enjoy some drinks and keep their wits about them. Third Date, Tequila shots. Time to find out what you two are actually like!

3. We’ll be serving whatever our guests feel like on Valentine’s Day!

4. I’ll likely be drinking cheap beer as I kill a frozen pizza when I get home late at night.


Chauncey Arkfeld, Eden Hill

1. Romance should be fun and passionate, and although it can be sometimes overwhelming, in the ideal world, it’s pretty pure and simple, right? The perfect romantic cocktail is the simple, elegant Champagne cocktail.

2. Third Date? Whatever you want. Seriously, she’s gonna find out about you sooner or later.

3. Our bar on Valentine’s day will basically be a Manhattan/Old Fashioned factory. Welcome to Seattle.

4. I’ll be having a shot of Fernet, chased by a tallboy of loneliness and a pocket full of cash.


Chris Guard, Golden Beetle

1. The most romantic cocktail is the cocktail that one’s partner or significant other seeks out the ingredients for and learns to make for them and them alone.  Romance is more about the thoughtfulness and action, rather than the elixir.

2. On a first date, when tensions are high, I like to suggest something strong enough to take the edge off, but not so strong that you can’t keep your wits about you.  Drink what makes you most comfortable, and something you know you’ll enjoy.  At Golden Beetle, we can take some input on what you like, and make a cocktail to your specifications.

Third date, we’re on to gin Martinis and Manhattans.  Strong, yes, but smooth and up-lifting.  You’re (hopefully) more comfortable now, most of the awkwardness is (hopefully) gone, and it’s time to treat yourselves!  Cheers to date number four!

3. At Golden Beetle, we do a cocktail special every night of the week, and most nights it is by far the most popular drink ordered.  As we expect this Valentine’s holiday to be celebrated all weekend, there will be a number of standout drinks, from spirit forward to juicy to bubbly.  We plan to incorporate a few romance-related ingredients, as well:  Parfait Amour liqueur, Rose Water, etc.  And remember, if you want something made just for you, all you have to do is ask! 

4. Naturally, I’ll be working this Valentine’s Day, as will most in my profession. Laws, good judgement, and respect for my career prevent me from drinking at work, though I imagine I’ll decompress with my co-workers with a cocktail after our shifts.  But if you ask my girlfriend, she says “Highland Park 30 year, with one heart-shaped rock, in a crystal glass.”  I like her style.


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