To love, that power of the universe, in all its forms and frames. Last year for Valentine’s Day, I explored the likely origins of this commercialized holiday, with a slightly cynical eye. If that wasn’t enough, I even objectified it completely into mathematical geometrical formulas. You might have enjoyed my observations, they were rather entertaining. But don’t get the wrong idea from all that, I’m really a sentimental fool. To prove it, I’ll embrace this year’s Valentine’s Day full on, with the perfect puzzle box and love potion pairing. There’s no chance you won’t be smitten.


The Japanese puzzle box artist Tatsuo Miyamoto has created a few heart shaped boxes, but his most recent one is even named the “Valentine’s Day” box. Adorned with two lovers in silhouette, this box is so cute it makes you happy. Allow me to introduce you to a perfect Valentine’s Day cocktail as well, created by Brad Farran and featured in the Death and Company Modern Classic Cocktails book. The “Heart-shaped Box” is indeed a modern classic and hits all the right notes for this holiday. It’s built around cognac, which is rather elegant, and sweetened with strawberry (naturally), elderflower liqueur (how romantic) and cinnamon syrup (exotic, too). Lemon juice brightens the mix, but not enough to let things go sour. Finally a little secret ingredient, balsamic vinegar, really ties it all together in a sophisticated manner which elevates this drink from mere flirtation to complicated, true love. I’ve even created a little citrus cupid to go with the drink, made from lemon, lime and blood orange peels, with a brandied cherry noggin. If that doesn’t make you smile, go get yourself a hug, in a hurry. This Valentine’s Day, don’t be puzzled by love – it’s not something you need to solve, anyway. Here’s a toast to the ones we love – our friends, our family, our partners in life. Cheers!


Wine comes in at the mouth, and love comes in at the eye; That's all we shall know for truth, before we grow old and die. I lift the glass to my mouth, I look at you, and I sigh.

William Butler Yeats

Heart-shaped Box by Brad Farran

1 ripe strawberry

2 oz cognac

¾ oz elderflower liqueur

¾ oz lemon juice

¼ oz cinnamon syrup

½ tsp aged balsamic vinegar

1 dash Angostura bitters

Muddle the strawberry in a shaker tin, then add remaining ingredients and shake with ice. Double strain into a favorite glass filled with crushed ice and garnish with another strawberry. Drink until you find true love.


For more about the adorable Valentine’s Day box see:

Boxes and Booze: Heart-Shaped Box

For last year’s Valentine’s Day offerings including my Chocolate Negroni recipe see:

Puzzled by Love