By Stephanie Rogers
Can a cocktail facilitate better sex? Sure, once you've had a certain amount of alcohol, your inhibitions begin to slip away - but when you add certain ingredients to a drink, the effects are even greater. Aphrodisiacs like ginger, honey, vanilla, hot peppers and saffron get your blood pumping, flood your brain with feel-good chemicals and increase hormone levels to heighten arousal, increase your stamina and just plain get you in the mood. And the starring ingredients in these 10 libido-boosting drinks (both the hard kind and the non-alcoholic) will please your taste buds, too.
Cardamom Rose Cocktail
Who can resist the aromatic allure of cardamom? This stimulating seed pod, which is often used as a natural treatment for impotence, packs a lot of flavor into a small package. Pair it with romantic rose in the Cardamom Rose Cocktail by Apothecary, featured at Design Sponge. Rose and cucumber-infused Hendrick's gin, homemade rose syrup, grapefruit juice, bitters and a single cardamom pod are combined into a sophisticated drink in a beautiful shade of petal-pink.
Kiwi Blackberry Summer Sangria
Helping to control all-important progesterone levels in both men and women, zinc is essential to a healthy libido. It's found in a wide variety of food sources including pumpkin seeds, mushrooms and spinach - but when it comes to drinks, the tastiest ways to get it are blackberries and kiwi. Yummy Mummy has a recipe for a sweet-sounding Kiwi Blackberry Sangria that includes white wine and fresh mint. Try juicing or just blending up additional blackberries in place of the berry juice to get an extra punch of this mineral.
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Ginger Mango Granita (Non-Alcoholic)
Ginger enhances blood flow down below, and pairs perfectly with sensual, sticky-sweet mango. This Ginger Mango Granita recipe from Food Network brings the two together into a refreshing frozen treat that's non-alcoholic (but would be off-the-charts delicious with a little champagne.)
Renowned as an aphrodisiac for centuries, jasmine is said to induce a euphoric response. This night-blooming flower is certainly romantic, and an exotic addition to both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Try the light and refreshing Mango Jasmine Bubble Tea, which includes frozen mango, jasmine tea and tapioca pearls. The distillery Koval offers an organic, floral jasmine liqueur, and a recipe for a drink called "Koval's Crossing" that mixes it with lime, mint, cucumber and rosemary.
The Spicy Lemon
Chili peppers are another powerful ingredient for enhancing blood flow and stimulating the release of feel-good endorphins. Infuse a little gin or vodka with a slice of your favorite pepper - from a medium-heat serrano to a fiery scotch bonnet - and balance it with some honey and lemon. Get the recipe for "The Spicy Lemon" at Tokyo Terrace.
Vanilla Honey Martini
It's called a honeymoon for a reason - honey has been tied to sexual desire for so long that it was once custom for newlyweds to down mead for a month after marrying. The B vitamins in honey aid in the production of testosterone, and it's also a great energy booster. Add it to vanilla - the scent of which is a powerful aphrodisiac for both sexes - and you've got quite the winning combination. Epicurious has a recipe for a super-simple Vanilla Honey Martini that lets these two ingredients shine.
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Mexican Hot Chocolate Martini
We associate chocolate with pleasure, sin - and, of course, sex. Chocolate stimulates the production of dopamine in the brain and is packed with all kinds of stimulating substances like caffeine. It's also a natural mood booster, and helps improve stress levels so you can relax. Combine some dark cocoa powder with a little ground chipotle pepper in the dessert-worthy Mexican Hot Chocolate Martini at Noche Latina. Of course, the non-alcoholic version is delicious, too.
Bloody Mary Oyster Shooters
Sliding a slimy raw oyster down your gullet may not sound like the sexiest thing to do, but there's some scientific research to back up claims that oysters are among the most powerful aphrodisiacs. The amino acids in raw oysters, which are at their highest levels in the spring, increase production of testosterone in men and progesterone in women. Make them more palatable (and add some extra libido-boosting power) with spicy Bloody Mary Oyster Shooters. Be sure to eat that celery, too - it contains androsterone, a hormone that stimulates arousal. And as long as you don't mind the effects on your breath, add a little garlic, while you're at it - it contains a heat-inducing component that can get you even more riled up.
Honey, Saffron & Ginger Champagne Cocktail
Spicy ginger, soothing honey and warm, comforting saffron are mixed into a dreamy champagne cocktail in this recipe from Eat Boutique. It involves making your own honey and saffron liqueur - which may seem intimidating, but is actually quite a simple process. You're simply infusing some vodka with vanilla, honey, cinnamon, peppercorns, saffron, nutmeg and lemon in a saucepan on the stovetop. Researchers have discovered that along with ginseng (which you can add to virtually any drink in tincture form), saffron is nature's most potent aphrodisiac.
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How many aphrodisiacs can you pack into one drink? The Lucky Devil is an alcohol-free cocktail with cinnamon, cardamom, honey and saffron. Developed by New York City's Museum of Sex, the recipe includes homemade cinnamon and cardamom elixirs, granulated honey and a saffron rock candy garnish.
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