Whether you’re lucky or unlucky in love, this touchy-feely time of year is as good as any to drink a damn fine cocktail. We asked seven of our favourite bartenders in Saigon what they think people should order this Valentine’s Day.

CLOVER CLUB 

Peter Nguyen of Rabbit Hole and new venture ET Lounge on Dong Khoi Street recommends this pre-Prohibition fruity tipple consisting of gin, dry vermouth, lemon juice, raspberry syrup and egg white. The Clover Club cocktail emerged from the eponymously-named Clover Club inside the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia, an all-male salon that attracted those who wanted to see and be seen. These days, it can and should be enjoyed by anyone and everyone.

Ingredients

45ml gin

15ml dry vermouth

15ml lemon juice

15ml raspberry syrup

1 egg white

Garnish: 2 or 3 raspberries

Rabbit Hole. Photo: Mike Palumbo

19TH CENTURY

Flamboyant bartender Nicola Cinelli of Vesper suggests this bourbon-based cocktail we hear little about in our neck of the woods. Created at New York’s Pegu Club, this shaken number has found a home on the other side of the world and in the hearts and minds of drinkers at one of Saigon’s most popular lounges.

Ingredients

45ml bourbon

20ml creme de cacao (white)

20ml Lillet Rouge

20ml lemon juice

Photo: Layla

STRAWBERRY CAIPIROSKA

Aussie good vibe engineer Jay Moir from uber-popular Layla in Saigon reckons this little vodka-based sweetie is the way to go for Valentine’s. A “Russia-fied” twist on the Brazilian classic caipirinha, it’s also tweaked by replacing lime with that loviest-of-doviest of fruits, strawberries.

Ingredients

60ml vodka

1 tbs sugar

1 cup strawberries

Half a quartered lime

Soda (optional)

Photo: Below Whisky Den

MARY PICKFORD

Kata Simon of Below takes us back in time with her selection of this Prohibition Era cocktail made with white rum. Named after America’s first modern silver screen celebrity of the silent movie era, this drink is guaranteed to create some noise beneath the sheets come Valentine’s Day this year.

Ingredients

45ml white rum

45ml fresh pineapple juice

1 tsp maraschino liqueur

1 tsp grenadine

Garnish: 1 maraschino cherry

Drinking & Healing. Photo: Mike Palumbo

ALEXANDER

Plucky Drinking & Healing bartender Du, affectionately called Zoo, takes us a step back before the more famous Brandy Alexander was even conceived with his Valentine’s selection that replaces brandy with gin. There are no theatrics or pyrotechnics involved here, but with a few of these lush tipples under the belt, expect there to be fireworks sometime during the night.

Ingredients

50ml gin

25ml creme de cacao

25ml cream

Garnish: Fresh nutmeg

Photo: ET Lounge

CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL

The debonair Matyas Busek of new Saigon bar ET Lounge has chosen to keep things simple but classy with this classic for Valentine’s. Who doesn’t like being handed a champagne flute at the beginning of the night with the promise of bigger things to come?

Ingredients

90ml champagne

10ml cognac

2 dashes of Angostura

1 sugar cube

Garnish: 1 maraschino cherry, orange peel

Firkin Bar. Photo: Mike Palumbo

OLD FASHIONED

Champion bartender Nguyen Toan My of Firkin suggests something sweet and creamy for the ladies, but for the gentlemen, he recommends a classic whiskey cocktail like the famous Old Fashioned, something that needs very little introduction here.

Ingredients

50ml bourbon or rye whiskey

2-3 dashes Angostura bitters

1 sugar cube

Splash of warm water

Garnish: Orange peel

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