It’s red. It makes your house smell provocative and mouth-watering. It’s filled with Champagne. What else could you possibly want for a sexy, make-you-giddy Valentine cocktail?

The recipe, perhaps?*

Gather up:

  • 2 quarts (64 oz.) cranberry juice (as close to pure cranberry juice as you can find).
  • 8 slices (quarter size and 1/8 inch thick) peeled, fresh ginger
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (about 3 inches long–I recommend cassia cinnamon for this recipe).
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1/3 cup cognac or brandy
  • 8 cups Champagne or sparkling wine. Dry, please. And chilled.
  • 32 – 48 fresh cranberries, rinsed.

At least 4 hours before you want to make your cocktail, prep and cook the syrup. You can make the syrup up to a week ahead of time as long as you chill it in an airtight container.

In a 3.5 to 4-quart pan compine cranberry juice, ginger, cinnamon sticks and star anise. Boil over high heat until reduced to 2 cups. It takes about 1 hour. Let cool about 30 minutes, then pour through a fine strainer into a small pitcher or measuring cup. Chill syrup until cold at least 1.5 hours.

The Fun Part

Pour 2 tablespoons of the cranberry syrup and 1 teaspoon cognac into a Champagne flute. Add 1/2 cup of Champagne. Garnish with 2 or 3 cranberries for that sumptuous, luscious touch.

If you want spices for love and raw sexuality, forget Cupid. You need how-to on the spicy Aphrodite.

If you want the non-alcoholic version of the Crimson Spice Champagne Cocktail you can mix this syrup with club soda or plain sparkling water.

Just a little warning: Every time we’ve made this syrup and shown up at a party it had a delirious affect on all the guests. Have fun with it (wink, wink)…and cheers!

Happy Valentine’s Day.


* Credit where credit is due. Sunset Magazine published this recipe in a special edition in Dec. of 2001. We’ve been making this every year since then for Christmas, New Years and Valentine’s Day.