I’ve got a broken heart this year for Valentine’s Day. Don’t feel too bad for me, though - I’m only talking about a puzzle box. Last year for your amorous amusement I featured what might have been the perfect pairing of love potion and puzzle, the Valentine’s Day Box by Tatsuo Miyamoto and the Heart Shaped Box by Brad Farran. It really can’t get any more perfect than that. I even created one of my most adorable citrus peel garnish creations ever, a lemon orange and lime cupid perched on a strawberry. I was trying to make up for being so cynical the year before that, when I explored the gruesome origins of Valentine’s Day and even deconstructed things down to a mathematical formula. This year my broken hearted puzzle box is easily mended, so don’t fret.


I’m a creature of habit, so the pairing for this secret heart once again comes from the wonderful Death and Company Modern Classics book. Death and company was the term applied to those desperate souls who drank during the dark days of prohibition, and was adopted as the name of one of the more influential bars in New York City. Also invented by Brad Farran, the creator of the Heart Shaped Box cocktail, this year’s tasty tipple features tequila, which is sure to make your heart beat faster. The drink is based on the classic Manhattan, which combines rye and sweet vermouth, but swaps the rye for a finely aged tequila instead. Farran then gives the drink a little tickle, with the addition of a his “Tickle Juice”, a combination of crème de cacao chocolate liqueur and Cynar, the deliciously herbal Italian amaro, which finds its way into a number of Death & Co. creations. I’ve tinkered with this ticklish delight as well by using Soltado for half of the anejo tequila called for in the original. Soltado is an extra aged anejo which has been infused with serrano pepper and cinnamon for a hot and spicy surprise. Be careful, this is another potent love potion that might make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Happy Valentine’s Day!


Te Amo by Brad Farran

  • 2 oz anejo tequila (e.g. El Tesoro, or use some Soltado like I did)
  • ¾ oz sweet vermouth (e.g Cocchi Di Torino)
  • 2 tsps crème de cacao (e.g. Marie Brizard white, or Tempis Fugit)
  • 1 tsp Cynar
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 1 dash Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters
  • 1 dash Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub

Stir ingredients together with ice and strain into a favorite glass. Garnish with an orange peel or something heart-felt.

For more about this broken hearted puzzle see:

Boxes and Booze: Heartbeat