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When it comes to a romantic evening, creating the right ambiance is almost as important as who you’re spending it with. The right environment can help you relax, feel comfortable in your own skin, and even get you in the mood for intimacy. Of course, things like candles, music (check out this sex playlist), and low lighting can help create such an atmosphere, but did you know that what you consume during date night can be equally impactful?

Aphrodisiac drinks not only serve as a delicious refreshment, they also help set the tone for romance. And although a little alcohol can help loosen you up, such drinks aren’t just about the spirits; mixed using ingredients that are considered natural aphrodisiacs, these elevated cocktails take pleasure to the next level. Here, we spoke with Anthony Pullen, an expert mixologist with Q Mixers, to learn more about aphrodisiac drinks and what makes them so alluring. Plus, he shares some of his favorite recipes.

What is an Aphrodisiac?

According to Healthline, an aphrodisiac can be defined as “a food or drug that arouses sexual instinct, brings on desire, or increases sexual pleasure or performance.” While there’s little scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of natural aphrodisiacs (chocolate and spicy foods are some common ones), The Mayo Clinic says there’s no harm in trying them out. However, supplements labelled as aphrodisiacs can sometimes have hidden toxic ingredients, so steer clear of those.

An excellent way to test out natural aphrodisiacs? Cocktails. “Classic aphrodisiac ingredients are often part of common cocktail recipes,” says Pullen. “Many naturally occurring ingredients have been documented for hundreds of years for their libido increasing properties.” However, he says it’s worth noting that “when dealing with feelings and emotions, coupled with alcohol’s ability to lower inhibitions, it becomes difficult to measure any single ingredient’s effect.”

Pullen points to some well-known natural aphrodisiacs that are common cocktail ingredients, including ginseng, saffron, chocolate, figs, cinnamon, basil, ginger, and watermelon.

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Aphrodisiac Drinks

When it comes to making aphrodisiac drinks, Pullen says that visual appeal is critical. “Make the cocktail look sexy and enticing,” he says. “Think about garnish and glassware. Do not just throw everything together in a random glass — the more the effort the better the reward.”

Below, check out a couple of Pullen’s best aphrodisiac cocktail recipes:

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Watermelon & Basil Highball

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz Blanco Tequila
  • 3 oz fresh Watermelon Juice
  • 3 basil leaves
  • ½ oz Lemon Juice
  • 5 oz Q Mixers Ginger Beer

Instructions:

Gently tear the basil leaves into strips, add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker (except ginger beer). Shake and fine strain into long thin highball glass over fresh ice. Top with Q Mixers Ginger Beer and garnish with a watermelon ball and fresh basil leave.  Optional: the sweetness of fresh watermelon juice can vary so if you have a sweet tooth, you can add a teaspoon of agave syrup.

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Cinnamon and Fig Gin & Tonic

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz London Dry Gin
  • ¼ oz Grand Marnier
  • 5 oz of Q Mixers Classic Tonic
  • 1 fresh fig (quartered)
  • 1 fresh cinnamon Stick

Instructions:

Build drink in a large wine glass filled with ice use the fresh fig and cinnamon as a garnish, the flavor will slowly become more intense as you consume the drink.

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A Non-Alcoholic Aphrodisiac Drink

Looking for a non-aloholic option? This mocktail from Epicurious, courtesy of the Museum of Sex in New York City, is sure to hit the spot. It features cinnamon, cardamom, lime, and honey — plus, a saffron rock candy for garnish.

Ingredients:

For the cinnamon elixir:

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 16 ounces distilled or tap water

For the cardamom elixir:

  • 1 tablespoon whole cardamom pods
  • 16 ounces distilled or tap water

For the drink:

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup granulated honey
  • 2 ounces cinnamon elixir
  • 2 ounces cardamom elixir
  • 2 ounces simple syrup
  • Ice
  • 9 ounces Q Mixers soda water
  • 2 pieces saffron rock candy for garnish

Instructions:

Prepare the elixirs (separately) by combining ingredients and bringing to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Next prepare the mocktail: Pour the lime juice onto a small plate and spread the granulated honey on a second small plate. Dip the rim of a glass into the lime juice, then dip it into the granulated honey. Pour in 1 ounce each of the cinnamon elixir, cardamom elixir, and simple syrup; add ice and enough soda water to fill each glass. Garnish with saffron rock candy.

You might also like: 12 Vacation-Inspired Cocktails You Can Make At Home

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