For a holiday that’s all about romance, Valentine’s Day sure stacks the deck against would-be lovers. On no day is there greater pressure to have a memorable night with someone special, yet what are the available weapons in your arsenal of love? Uninspired prix-fixe menus, wildly marked up bottles of bubbly and bouquets of flowers and truly some of the worst candy confectioners have ever inflicted upon our collective palates. For example, conversation hearts taste like sugar, chalk and, sometimes, cough syrup. (Yet do you think I can stop eating them? Of course not.) And heaven help you if you invest in one of those heart-shaped boxes of “chocolates.” There is no surer way to nip a budding relationship.
I’m not saying you won’t score some points with a prospective paramour by presenting gaudy offerings and doing some kind of courtship dance like a bird in the wild. I’m just saying that sometimes it’s best to just cut to the chase. When it comes to modern love, as the saying goes, candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.
I confess there is one V-Day candy I enjoy. Imperial Hearts are just Red Hots made into little heart shapes, and yet they somehow taste different, better. Perhaps it’s because they are a metaphor for the day. Romance should be sweet, of course, but the heat of passion rescues it from being insipid. And made into a sweet-spicy liqueur, well, be still my beating heart.
A dribble of this lurid liqueur will turn even the cheapest sparkling wine into an absolute aphrodisiac.
Red Hot Liqueur
Don’t over-invest on the vodka for this liqueur; remember, you’re mixing it with candy. The final product will be alarmingly, glowingly red, and offers 100% US RDA of corn syrup, artificial flavors and red no. 40.
1 c. Red Hots or Imperial Hearts
1 pint vodka
Place the candy in a large zip-top bag and pound with a mallet to break them into irregular pieces. Pour the broken candy into a food processor and pulse until a fine powder. This is a fantastically loud process. If you do not break up the candy prior to putting it in the food processor, they will simply tumble around and clatter like marbles.
Pour the pulverized candy into a quart mason jar, and pour the vodka over. Add the lid and shake to dissolve. The finer the powder, the faster it will dissolve, as in within seconds.
When the candy is dissolved to your liking, pour through a fine mesh sieve to strain, and bottle. Will keep approximately forever.
Sean Timberlake is a professional writer, amateur foodie, avid traveler and all-around bon vivant. He is the founder of Punk Domestics, a content and community site for DIY food enthusiasts, and has penned the blog Hedonia since 2006. He lives in San Francisco with his husband, DPaul Brown, and their hyperactive terrier, Reese.