AlcProfValentinesBallantine1948

Once again, Valentine’s Day is upon us – that fabled holiday when star-crossed lovers forget about the winter weather for a scant few seconds, and surround themselves in flowers, hearts, chocolates, and delicious drinkables. However, over the last few years, the public perception of Valentine’s imbibing has been largely limited to sickeningly sugary pink-hued cocktails, as if the only way to express affection in beverage form is to shoot for a flavor profile that lands somewhere between cotton candy and fruit punch.  And while I’ve certainly been known to enjoy a sweet cocktail from time to time, I feel like this holiday demands something a little more…classically romantic. So, with that in mind, I’ve once again dug through my archives of memorabilia for inspiration, considering what beverages have been historically linked with flirtation and affection, unearthing the cocktails, hearts, cupids, amorous advances, and stolen glances of earlier eras.

A 1951 ad for Carlings Ale

A 1951 ad for Carlings Ale

I greatly enjoy seeing the different perspectives on love presented in these campaigns. Some created elaborate storybook scenes…

AlcProfRomanceFourRoses1935

Four Roses Whiskey, 1935

Some used modern motifs to get their point across, like this Whiskey ad featuring a pair of lovebirds drifting through a “Tunnel Of Love”…

AlcProfValentinesCalvert1942

Calvert Whiskey, 1942

 And some simply used Valentine’s motifs for comedic effect, like this Seagram’s ad featuring their cartoon mascots in ill-fitting Cupid attire.

Seagrams 5 Crown Whiskey, 1942

Seagrams 5 Crown Whiskey, 1942

And going forward in time, one can also recognize shifts in cultural moods and fashions.  Pop Art, Deco-revival, and other illustrative styles became more prevalent.

Cinzano Vermouth, 1965

Cinzano Vermouth, 1965

Arrow Cordials, 1974

Arrow Cordials, 1974

And the simple product still-life also became a popular approach for print campaigns.

AlcProfValentinesBG1971

Barton & Guestier Wine Merchants, 1971

Amaretto di Saranno, 1975

Amaretto di Saranno, 1975

Of course, while these ads give a great window into changing perspectives on romance and relationships, there’s other elements that make them fascinating. This Great Western ad is perfectly stylish and romantic, but it also dates from a time when California wineries were struggling to be seen as more than simple swill merchants, so the self-invited comparison to fine French bottles can be seen as a bold statement of purpose.  (Not to mention how freely they referred to their product as “Champagne”, some decades before such labels would become a matter of great controversy.)

Great Western Champagne, 1935

Great Western Champagne, 1935

Most of all, what I glean from looking at these vintage ads is just how many different alcohols are perfectly well-suited to Valentine’s consumption.  Beer?  Wine?  Cordials?  Whiskey?  All can evoke passionate emotion, and conjure up an appropriate air of aphrodisia. Johnnie Walker Red, 1972 Ballantine Ale, 1948 Cointreau, 1985

And if all else fails this year, one can always resort to the old standbys – reciting love poetry.

Kahlua, 1969

Kahlua, 1969

Whatsoever, I hope this trip through the past has helped spark some ideas for your own Valentine’s sipping selections.  Just remember, consume responsibly…  Lest you end up like this fine fellow, attempting to woo the object of your affections from the wrong end of a highball.

AlcProfDrunkValentine

Cheers, and Happy Valentine’s Day!