With the yearly celebration of the day of love soon upon us, newly-opened Latin American restaurant and bar IZEL at the Conrad Hotel has devised a specialty drinks menu of Valentine’s Cocktails. With names like ‘Te Quiero’, meaning “I love you” in Spanish, and ‘Aphrodite’s Punch’, these creative drinks incorporate a range of influences from classic cocktails and cutting-edge contemporary drinks in honor of the day of love.
My guest and I settled down at our table within the spacious Latin American inspired restaurant. One the walls were large vibrant artworks, which portrayed stirring depictions of Latin American women as well as ancient Mayan artifacts. Our sommelier explained to us how the drinks were divided into those for a man and for a woman. The first round offered Caramel Kiss for the ladies and Te Quiero for gentleman. The former comprises Chambord black raspberry liqueur mixed with Caramel liqueur and pineapple juice and served with a caramel rim. The taste of soft and sweet – similar to that of a Bellini where one can hardly notice the alcohol and focuses on the delicious taste of fresh fruit. Te Quiero, on the other hand, was stronger and more robust. It immediately recalled that of a Tiki Buka Polynesian drink. It is made from a blend of Sauza tequila, Aperol, freshly squeezed lime juice and sugar syrup with a dash of plum bitters and topped off with ginger ale. Delicious, we both preferred the second male cocktail.
The second round offered the Passionate Fizz for women and The Gentleman’s Flavor for men. Arriving in a sophisticated Martini glass with a dainty heart on the white fizz of the drink, the women’s cocktail was made with Stolichnaya vodka, passion fruit syrup and lemon juice and shaken together and topped with proseco. We were in heaven. As we sipped away at this very sweet drink, the heart stayed intact – continuing to recall the icon of love even as one got down to the last drop. This was an immediate favorite.
For the men, The Gentleman’s Flavor comprised Hennessy VS shaken with triple sec, lemon, fresh ginger and honey and served smokey. Very much reminiscent of the timeless Old Timer, the drink arrived in a cigar box with a smokey scent that recalled that of a campfire. For the strong and bold, the cocktail represented masculinity in its entirety.
We were thoroughly impressed by the level of creativity added to each concoction – not just one the level of taste, but also regarding the drinks’ presentation.
The last round featured a Grande Fashion made with Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey blended with Grande Marnier liquer and stirred over bitters and sugar for the men. Strong and slightly sweet, thanks to the bitters, this drink was a clear ode to the renowned Old Fashion and reinvented with a bit of contemporary flair. Once again, it brought out distinct masculine qualities through its taste and presentation.
For the ladies, we were treated to Strawberries and Cream, a delectable dessert-like cocktail comprising fresh strawberries and mint shaken with Bailey’s and Mozart chocolate liqueur. A perfect addition to any after dinner sweet, the concoction was deliciously enticing and much like a dessert itself.
If these cocktails don’t tickle your imagination, there is also a sharing cocktail: Aphrodite’s Punch. The drink comes in a sharing vessel of pomegranate juice, honey and lemon and lengthened with proseco. It is smooth, sophisticated and deliciously sweet.
IZEL’s Valentine’s Day drinks are an intimate and creative way to share Valentine’s Day with your special someone.
IZEL is located in the Conrad Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road. Tel: +971 44447444