From centuries-old herbal blends to the humble, modern-day oyster, aphrodisiacs have long been touted as remedies for a lackluster love life. And for just as long, men and women have been buying into them.
But while the science behind these all-natural, sex-boosting supplements is flimsy, a belief in the strength of aphrodisiacs has held on—particularly with incorporating them into boozy cocktails. So maybe there’s something to the love potion stuff.
“One could say alcohol in general is an aphrodisiac due to its loosening of inhibitions and stimulation of desire,” says Chris Marshall, head bartender at Apotheke, a sultry cocktail bar in New York City that specializes in apothecary-style libations. “That being said, we have a cocktail which has Horny Goat Weed tea, which is known to be the oldest aphrodisiac.”
According to legend, the aptly named plant earned its moniker in ancient China, after some goats chewed on the plants leaves—and the goat population drastically increased.
Whether the story is true, Marshall isn’t sure, and he admits they mostly refer to it as a joke. But when it comes to incorporating such ingredients into a cocktail, the process “has a lot to do with flavor balance and texture, rather than some alchemical barometer of libido”.
Still, “I personally don’t think any of them are aphrodisiacs,” he adds. “Alcohol does the trick just fine.”
So whether you believe in the power of aphrodisiacs or not—remember, it’s all in how you pitch it—here are seven enticing, sometimes spicy, cocktails. All take advantage of at least one rumored aphrodisiac ingredient, making them perfect for a Valentine’s Day at home—or in bed.