Valentine cocktails to help set the mood

by | Feb 13, 2020

Valentine’s day is a time to celebrate with the ones you love. This year, whether it’s your best friends, neighbors or that special someone – consider making North Carolina craft cocktails. We’ve got great suggestions below.

Peter Thornton, assistant director of international marketing with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, often incorporates local spirits in his cocktails. For the last 14 years he has led efforts to find new markets for North Carolina’s agricultural products, Peter’s hobby is mastering the art of the perfect cocktail drink.

“Entertaining is a big part of what we like to do at home with our neighbors,” said Thornton. “Making cocktails is fun and a great way to socialize. True fact: the more cocktails I mastered the more popular I became with my neighbors.”

Thornton has been mastering the art of cocktails for about four years. His best tips include:

  1. Always use fresh lemons and limes.
  2. Never use a store-bought mixer.
  3. Master the basic cocktails first – mojito, margarita, daquiri, cosmos and martini.

A few North Carolina spirits have found success overseas. Topo Distillery in Durham distributes in Japan. Many local craft breweries distribute in Europe and the Caribbean.

To help get us ready for Valentine’s Day and the weekend. We asked Peter to come up with some creative and locally-inspired cocktails. You can find local products across the state at your local ABC store.

The Red Devil


  • 1/2 ounce Fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce Cranberry juice
  • 1/2 ounce Triplesec
  • 1 1/2 ounce TOPO Organic Vodka
  • ¼ ounce grenadine


Dip the rim of the glass in your favorite NC honey and then dip glass in red decorating sugar.

Add all ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and double strain into large cocktail glass.

Standard garnish: Garnish with half a strawberry with a small v cut out at the top to make the strawberry look like a heart

Chocolate Kiss



Drizzle chocolate syrup into cocktail glass. Place in freezer for 15 minutes.

Shake vodka, chocolate liquor and half and half with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into chocolate-drizzled cocktail glass
Standard garnish: Grate chocolate across the top of the drink

Joco Love Juice



Pour two ounces of moonshine into a rocks glass. Add ½ ounce of lime juice and stir. Fill glass with ice and top off with Cheerwine.