How to Create a Romantic Evening to Remember this Valentine's Day

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Celebrity event planner and Cupcake Vineyards' Bridal Expert Alison Hotchkiss dishes her top tips and tricks to create a fun, memorable evening.

Why brave the crowds and expensive restaurant prix fixe menus on Valentine’s Day when you can enjoy the ultimate comfort (and intimacy) of a home cooked dinner for two?

“Dining in at your own home is really on trend right now. Why brave the crowds and expensive restaurant prix fixe menus on Valentine’s Day when you can enjoy the ultimate comfort (and intimacy) of a home cooked dinner for two?” offers Cupcake Bridal Expert and event planner extraordinaire, Alison Hotchkiss. “The advantage of dining at home is the ultimate comfort it affords: you can relax comfortably and enjoy each other’s company at a completely unhurried pace without spending a fortune. In the privacy of your own space, you can fully unleash your creativity and let your romantic selves shine.”

To create a perfectly romantic evening to remember with your special someone, Alison offers these Valentine’s Day tips:

  • Snail mail or messenger an enticing dinner invitation to your Valentine to arrive at their office on February 14th. Include a seductive little surprise in the package – a personalized CD of romantic music or one decadent chocolate truffle -- to build anticipation for the evening ahead.
  • Play up the theme of luxurious comfort by converting your living room into a cozy lounge: scatter big pillows on the floor; place a candelabra or votives on the coffee table to add soft lighting; and start a warming fire in the fireplace. For even more moxie place a couple of fun, fur rugs amidst the pillows.
  • Post your “house rules” on the front door before he/she arrives home. Playful mandates such as: turn off your cell phone; proceed directly to the bedroom to don “dinner attire” (a plush terry robe and velvety slippers); meet me by the fireplace -- all communicate that this night is for your exclusive and uninterrupted enjoyment as a couple.
  • Greet your sweetheart by the fireplace or “lounge” with a classic, perfectly chilled Cupcake Dirty Martini. Pair with a beautiful assortment of charcuterie – thin sliced meats such as prosciutto or soprasetta; select cheeses; flatbreads and mixed heirloom olives.
  • Or, kick off your romantic evening with a welcoming signature cocktail: Berry Delight blends tasty Cupcake Verry Berry Vodka with a raspberry syrup and lemon/lime soda. A splash of fruity raspberry lends a pretty deep red hue to the finished drink. Served in a Collins glass with a garnish of a raspberry, it’s a sassy party starter.

Berry Delight
1.5 oz Cupcake Vodka Verry Berry
0.75 oz Raspberry Syrup (e.g. Monin or Torrani)
Lemon/lime soda to fill glass

Fill Collins glass with ice. In a shaker with ice, combine vodka and raspberry syrup. Shake, strain and pour into Collins glass. Top with Lemon/lime soda.

  • Or, welcome your Valentine with a glass of crisp and celebratory Cupcake Prosecco. The wine’s lively, bubbles strike a festive and devil-may-care note. Amp up the seduction with an assortment of fresh oysters on the half shell, ribbons of smoked salmon or little spoonfuls of caviar served in chilled, hollowed out new potatoes with a dollop of crème fraiche.
  • After luxuriating over cocktails and appetizers, retreat to the dining room for dinner served on your best china with freshly-pressed linens. Play up the theme of Valentine’s Day Red with an abundant arrangement of red roses, tulips (or the bouquet he brought home for you) plus a “table runner" of bright red rose petals (or, to trim costs, use a blend of rose and carnation petals which creates the same effect more affordably.) For even more drama, add assorted candles – and remember that for Valentine’s Day, more is always more!
  • Continue the theme of red by ordering restaurant quality filet mignons, Porterhouse steak or another prime cut of beef at your local butcher. Serve with assorted roasted root vegetables or a mash of creamy cauliflower or Yukon gold potatoes. Choose a complimentary red wine such as Cupcake Red Velvet to round out the meal: Its beautifully concentrated fruit flavors and plush, velvety palate are the perfect match for this robust menu and the wine’s vibrant, ruby red color makes an elegant Valentine’s Day presentation served in your best stemware.
  • To refresh your palates between courses serve a colorful homemade very berry granita or sorbet or opt for a premium store bought version. Garnish with seasonal fresh berries and a sprig of mint.
  • Adjourn to the living room and continue your slow seduction over a sampling of assorted macaroons, or treat your sweetie to a “blind tasting” of different flavored artisanal caramels or hand crafted chocolates and see if they can identify the flavors. One of my current favorite chocolatiers is Mast Brothers ( Top off your sweets with more bubbles or, for a different twist, team chocolates with a full bodied red such as Cupcake Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • As an alternative dessert idea in keeping with the theme of comfort, settle yourselves on big cushions by the coffee table and share a decadent banana split for two. Serve in one classic glass dish with two spoons and take turns spoon-feeding tastes to each other.


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Lisa Klinck-Shea
Folsom + Associates
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