Cupid’s Wings cocktail and the Cupid’s Arrow oyster shooter from Old Port Sea Grill. Photo courtesy of Old Port Sea Grill

With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, I turned to some of our talented local bartenders to see if they were creating anything special for the occasion. Unlike most of my previous boyfriends, they did not disappoint.

I first reached out to Maine Mixologist mobile bar service owner Misty Coolidge, since her team’s specialty is creating cocktails for weddings. She responded with the Cupid’s Arrow (1/3 cup vodka, ¼ cup peach schnapps, and 1 cup ruby red grapefruit juice, served in a glass with a pink sugar rim), an easy-to-create cocktail for couples celebrating at home this year.

Another vodka-based contender comes from Old Port Sea Grill, which serves a cocktail called Cupid’s Wings for $12. A riff on a classic Aviation cocktail (hence the wings), it is made with Ice Pik vodka, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, Crème de Violette, fresh lemon, raspberry purée and sparkling rosé.  They recommend accompanying it with their $8 Cupid’s Arrow, an Eros oyster topped with lemon-lavender oil, raspberry droplets and lemon zest, balanced on a shot glass of sparkling rosé.

The Top of the East’s Rosy Cheeks is made with vodka, ginger liqueur, rosewater, and lemon juice. Photo courtesy of Top of the East

Top of the East also has a vodka-based Valentine’s special, the $12 Rosy Cheeks: 2 ounces Ketel One vodka, 1 ounce Domaine de Canton (a ginger liqueur), 1 ounce house-made rosewater, and 0.5 ounce lemon juice, served over ice in a Collins glass and topped with club soda. If you’re more of a gin drinker, they also offer a $12 Cherry Gin Rickey: 2 ounces Hardshore gin, 1 ounce Cherry Heering and 0.5 ounce lime juice, served over ice in a rocks glass, topped with club soda and garnished with a Bing cherry.

Also offering multiple options, each designed around a different spirit, is Petite Jacqueline. The $10 Amour Enfumé (French for “smoky love”) combines 1 ounce mezcal, 0.75 ounce tequila, 0.25 ounce Cynar (an Italian bitter liqueur), 0.75 ounce grapefruit, 0.5 ounce lime and 0.5 ounce simple syrup, served over ice and topped with club soda. The $11 Beau Démodé (a play on the French word for old-fashioned) contains 1.5 ounce Armagnac, 0.5 ounce Benedictine, 3 dashes Angostura bitters and 1 dash orange bitters, served on the rocks with an expressed orange peel. Finally, the $12 La Passion uses 1.5 ounces Three of Strong Spirits white rum, 0.5 ounce St. Germain (an elderflower liqueur), 1 ounce passionfruit and 0.25 ounce simple syrup, shaken hard and served up (cold but not over ice).

Speaking of Three of Strong Spirits, its Valentine’s special is the Passion for Chocolate. Made with cocoa nib orgeat, passionfruit, hibiscus, rosewater and Aphrodite bitters, it’s the perfect balance of tropical tartness and deep, chocolatey goodness. The mix costs $12 for a 10-ounce bottle (makes about five cocktails) and is recommended with Three of Strong’s Nightwater rum as the spirit.

Amante is Spanish for lover and the name of Chaval’s Valentine’s Day cocktail. Photo courtesy of Chaval

Chaval also uses rum in its $13 Valentine’s cocktail, the Amante (Spanish for lover), created by bartender Asher Boisvert: 1 ounce Plantation Original dark rum, 0.75 ounce Iris Rojo Spanish Vermouth, 0.25 ounce Rothman & Winter Apricot Liqueur, 0.5 ounce whipped vanilla syrup, 0.25 ounce mango puree, 0.5 ounce fresh lime juice, orange bitters and aromatic bitters. They garnish it with citrus, a cherry gummy bear and a cocktail umbrella.

Blyth & Burrows’ Valentine’s cocktail, Consensual Chocolate, uses a spirit often referred to as “Brazilian rum” – cachaca, the alcohol used in caipirinhas. In addition, it contains strawberry, cocoa nibs, orange blossom and lemon acid. Described as “a sexy, bubbly treat for lovers,” it comes in a 750-milliliter bottle (about four glasses) for $50.

Thanks to these cocktails, your Valentine’s weekend is sure to be rum-antic.

Angie Bryan is a former diplomat who is enjoying getting acquainted with her new home in Portland, one cocktail at a time.

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