Chef Jackie M. Lee shows you how to set the mood for your Dinner Worthy date…from the first sip
The first time you entertain your Dinner Worthy date in your home is a notable event and an opportunity to impress. That’s more the reason why you might consider creating that unique cocktail or brushing up on your wine IQ for your special night. When I want to really impress, I like to create a specialty drink or cocktail to offer my DW candidate. It’s an opportunity to booster my seduction meter and to put my date at ease with a delicious elixir to tickle the taste buds. If your date is not into cocktails, knowing how to maneuver a wine list will not only earn you coveted brownie points but might also garner you that unspoken nod of approval.
First, COCKTAILS – check out my 3 Top drinks below that will help to showcase your mixology skills:
Cucumber Ruby Grapefruit Martini – This refreshing martini with cucumber essence is a great and fresh way to start your night. I cut up some cucumber slices and marinate them in some vodka overnight in the fridge. In a martini shaker, add ice, I slice of marinated cucumber slice, add fresh ruby red grapefruit juice, cucumber infused vodka and shake well. Pour into martini glass, garnish with a fresh cucumber slice and serve.
- Pomegranate Mojito – Nothing is more delicious than this citrus and mint tropical drink with a hint of pomegranate juice. I use a light rum, fresh mint, lime slices and dark amber agave nectar for the simple syrup. In a cocktail glass, muddle together, mint leaves, lime slices and agave nectar. Add ice, rum, a TBSP of pomegranate juice and seltzer water to finish.
- Strawberry Basil Margarita – Who can resist a delicious margarita? Bump up the sexy meter with this delicious twist on the old favorite. The basil adds a floral anise flavor that truly complements the strawberries. I like to serve this on the rocks. In a blender, puree, 1 pint strawberries, 4 fresh basil leaves, 1 TBSP sugar, and a ½ cup water and reserve. In a cocktail glass, add ice, rum and ¼ cup of the fruit puree, 1 dash if triple sec and 1 tsp. lime juice. Mix well and serve with strawberry garnish.
- Viognier – A fantastic change from the usual chardonnay or sauvignon blanc. The Viognier is noted for spice, floral, citrus, apricot, apple and peach flavors. It typically produces medium bodied wines with relatively high acids and fruit.
- Reisling – Californian Rieslings tend to be dry and have a melony taste, while Germanic Rieslings are more tart and ‘grapefruity’. Other typical Riesling flavors include fruity and floral, as well as honey and musky. Rieslings should be served cool at 47F (but not as cold as fridge temperature).
- Cava – My goto sparkling favorite from Spain is a superb way to start your night. The grapes traditionally used for Cava – macabeo, xarello, and parellada – make Cava a light, white, fruity, perfumed wine. This is a delicious change from champagne and is perfect for cheese.
- Red Rioja – The red wine from the region of Spain with the same name. The “red Rioja” is most well known style of Rioja. Classic, bold, these wines taste mostly of their tempranillo roots and have a bright, fresh flavor to them. This goes extremely well with steak and other hearty meats. Serve red Riojas at 61F – they do not need decanting.
- Amarone – Both recioto and amarone are made with grapes that have been dried on racks, bringing out their flavors. Amarone is the fourth biggest seller in Italy, behind Chianti, Asti, and Soave. This fine wine has flavors of licorice, tobacco and fig, and goes well with game and ripe cheese.
- Pinotage – A welcoming alternative to the humdrum cabernet or merlot, Pinotage has a distinctive flavor, very fruity with an underlying taste frequently compared with banana. It can be drunk young, to maintain its fruity flavor. It also ages well, and the mellowing effect allows the wine to taste like a mature bordeaux. Pinotage pairs well with stews and other rich dishes. It should be served at 61F – warmer than fridge temperature but not “room temerature” in modern times.
More from Chef Jackie M. Lee: Cook Up Passion for a Sexy Night In
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