There are three keys to making a sensuous cocktail: First, it should look bright, attractive, sleek, or curvy. Second, the ingredients must invoke some visceral sense—either with palate-tickling fruit or earthy accents from herbaceous spirits. And finally, the name has got to suggest passion, seemingly begging to be consumed. These five drinks fulfill the mission nicely.
Vodka and cranberry have been a pair on numerous occasions (most notably in the Cosmo). In this drink, orange juice smoothes out the flavor of the tart cranberry. To avoid making an overly sweet Kool-Aid-like concoction, try using unsweetened cranberry juice or adding more OJ. The amaretto contributes sweet almond flavors (you may have seen the Disaronno Originale brand on liquor shelves) and adds yet more alcohol. Beware: This Kiss packs quite a punch.
Blood Orange French 75
Champagne cocktails are, by their very nature, celebratory. The rising bubbles function not just as eye candy but as palate stimulants, and the alcohol in carbonated cocktails enters the bloodstream faster than in noncarbonized ones. This version of the classic French 75 adds complexity in the form of bitters, an element that goes well with the blood oranges that make up the drink’s pulp. Serve it before a romantic meal or the day after, with brunch.
If bright-red drinks don’t communicate the seductive subtlety you were striving for, consider this variation on a martini. The Fever plays up some alluring, exotic flavors, combining a nutty spiciness with a sexy hint of anise. By adding Dubonnet Rouge, which contains red wine, the drink achieves a touch of pink. As a whole, it’s dry enough to pair with many foods, and simple enough to stir up at a moment’s notice.