A Valentine's toast calls for something more than your everyday drink. Here's a suggestion: Invest in a bottle of Chambord, a black-raspberry liqueur known as the "liqueur royale" of France.
Chambord is made from hand-picked black raspberries infused with cognac. Spices and other fruit - blackberry, currant and red raspberry - are added after the primary infusion.
The result is a sweet, deep-purple liqueur that can be sipped alone with dessert, especially with a Valentine's Day favorite like dark chocolate.
But it's Chambord's ability to mix well with other drinks that makes it indispensable for a well-stocked bar. It's an easy and elegant way to dress up anything from champagne to gin.
And because it comes in a classy dark-blue bottle complete with its own crown, it makes a handsome gift or even a striking addition to your own bar or sideboard.
New York party planner Francesca Abbracciamento of Francesca Events likes the looks of the bottle so much she suggests using it as the centerpiece of a mix-your-own or "interactive" cocktail party. Cocktail parties are enjoying something of a comeback, she says, capitalizing on a new appreciation of mixed drinks and allowing busy guests to socialize without having to commit an entire evening.
A fully stocked open bar is too expensive and complicated for most at-home parties. But a few well-displayed classics can make for a fun evening. Chambord fits well into that formula.
Many people already pair it with champagne and other sparkling wines. Chambord publicists say that the Chambord kir royale, a glass of champagne with a splash of Chambord garnished with fresh raspberries, is a favorite of Nicole Kidman, Cameron Diaz and other celebrities. You might want to consider that combination for your own Valentine's Day toast.
Chambord works well with a wide range of other drinks, from hot apple cider or orange juice to gin or tequila. Abbracciamento likes the idea of adding a splash of Chambord to Wet, a new gin infused with pear essence. That combination allows two fruit flavors - pear and raspberry - to enhance each other.
Chambord is also good in vodka, adding a bit of color and taste to produce a nice twist on the flavored martini.
A 750-milliliter bottle of Chambord sells for $24 to $28; 375-milliliter bottles retail for $18 to $20.
Chambord French Martini
Makes 1 drink
1/2 ounce Chambord
1 1/2 ounces vodka
2 ounces pineapple juice
Put ingredients in shaker along with ice, shake and pour liquid into glass.
Per serving: 146 calories; 0 grams protein; 0 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 12 grams carbohydrate; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 2 milligrams sodium
- Analysis by Jodie Shield, registered dietitian