To me, a new year means fresh entertaining ideas and a variety of new opportunities to surprise and delight your significant other. From cozy January nights in front of the fire, to Valentine’s Day dinners by candlelight, to fresh blooms in Spring, the start of a new year just resonates romance. Here are some of my favorite ways to bring a little bit of romance into your entertaining, no matter your style!
I joined forces with two of my favorite Los Angeles-based companies to bring you some of my favorite romantic entertaining looks! Working with my go-to intimate event-planners, A Merry Riot, we styled these looks with items from décor company, Haven & Co, in Brentwood.
All items are available for purchase at Haven & Co, 11965 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049 with prices listed. To find out more about A Merry Riot visit www.AMerryRiot.com
French Country Chic
Oozing with rustic femininity, this décor reminds me of days spent sipping cocktails under the olive trees in Provence. Delightfully-feminine without being overly-girly, this is an easy way to add some romantic touches to your décor. Try not to go too saccharine with your food and drink, but instead, keep them guessing with a classic or somewhat chunky cocktail. A traditional gin martini is the perfect way to keep this feminine display grounded and modern.
All items pictured available at Haven & Co: Voluspa silver candle $73, Deborah Rhodes gold placemat $25, Alpaca Import Cashmere throw $320, Zodax gold tray $145, William Yeoward decanters $295 - $250, Nest candle $43, Caskata tray $74, Caskata bowl $49.50, William Yeoward cocktail coupe $52, Graphic Image taupe shaker $145, Lafco pink candle $62, Asian cocktail book $16.95.
The Perfect Gin Martini
I like to play around with my martini garnishes—try bright green Castelvetrano olives instead of the classic martini olives. You can also substitute the gin for vodka if you’re more of a James Bond martini drinker!
3 oz gin
½ oz dry vermouth
Olives or lemon twist
Chill a martini glass in the freezer.
Pour the vermouth into the glass, swirl it around and then pour it out.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
Add in the gin.
Shake vigorously (for at least 30 seconds) if you prefer a frothy martini, or stir 50 times if you like it crystal clear!
Strain into the martini glass and garnish with olives or a lemon twist.
Old World Charm
Evocative of classic British elegance and peppered with chunky masculine pieces, I love this look for a night in with cocktails, a roast dinner and old movies. Don’t be afraid to blend the masculine and feminine in this look—soft, decadent florals will only serve to highlight your stronger elements, resulting in visuals that are bold, rich and dramatically-romantic.
All items pictured available at Haven & Co: Import Wooden Tray $47, Mela Knife $45, Mela bottle opener $45, Barclay Buttera tray $190, Caspari coaster $16, Ralph Lauren rocks glass $95 for 2, William Yeoward Flute $69, Ralph Lauren decanter $195, Barclay Buttera leather decanter $125, Silver shaker $395, Claudia Nicole cashmere throw $250, Kim Seybert napkin $30.
Muddled Old Fashioned
1 sugar cube or 1 tsp sugar
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 oz Rye Whiskey or Bourbon
1 orange slice
Orange peel twist
2 Maraschino cherries
Splash club soda
In a shaker, muddle the orange slice, 1 cherry, splash of soda, bitters and sugar cube.
Add the whiskey and ice, and shake.
Pour into a rocks glass and garnish with another cherry and the orange peel.
Cucumber & Herb Champagne
¾ oz St Germain elderflower liqueur
3 slices cucumber
4 leaves basil
1 lime wedge
1 rosemary sprig
In a shaker, muddle the lime, basil, cucumber and St Germain.
Strain into a champagne flute.
Top with champagne.
Garnish and stir with the sprig of rosemary.
Cozy Night In
This look is the perfect way to surprise your other half with a casual yet romantic dinner at home. I love to prepare our relaxed meals on individual trays—it’s cozy, intimate and very romantic. Serve your “his & hers” trays outside on a picnic blanket or inside snuggled under faux fur by the fire. Don’t be afraid to go decadent with the food and drink, either. Strawberries and cream martini? Why not!
All items pictured available at Haven & Co: Caspari wooden tray $49, Ricci silverware $87.50 for 5pc, Caskata sea fan plates $80, Kim Seybert napkin $16, William Yeoward comport $195, William Yeoward footed tumbler $42.
Strawberries & Cream Martini
1 oz White Chocolate Godiva Liqueur
1 oz Crème de Cacao
1 oz Vodka
3 sliced strawberries
Add the strawberries to a shaker and muddle.
Add the chocolate liqueur, crème de cacao, vodka and ice. Shake vigorously.
Strain into a martini glass and garnish with mint!
The Perfect Dessert to Share: Espresso Chocolate Mousse
Rich and sublimely chocolaty, there is nothing better than sinking your spoon into a frothy pile of mousse. However, most mousse recipes take forever and require a mandatory 2 hours or so in the fridge… and who wants to wait that long to enjoy such deliciousness?! My version is so quick it won’t take you away from the romantic evening you’ve planned—the perfect end to a perfect evening!
3 oz Baking Chocolate
1 ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup sugar
2 egg whites
2 tbsp Bailey’s
¼ cup instant espresso or instant coffee grounds
Whipped cream, to garnish
Espresso beans, to garnish
Strawberries, to garnish
Separate your egg yolks and whites, making sure to get no yolks mixed in with the whites.
Add your egg whites to a stand mixer with a whisk attachment and immediately put on the highest speed.
Whisk for 3 or 4 minutes until the egg whites begin to form soft peaks.
Keep on a high speed and add in the sugar a little bit at a time. This should take another few minutes.
Your meringue should be a very thick, fluffy meringue.
Meanwhile, add half of your cream to a saucepan over high heat. The second the cream begins to simmer, turn the heat off.
Keep the hot cream on the stove without heat, and add in the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has completely melted.
Stir the espresso powder into the chocolate cream until it dissolves.
Fill a large bowl with iced water, and set a smaller bowl over it.
Pour the hot chocolate cream into the small bowl over the iced water, so that it begins to cool.
Mix the rest of the cream, and the Bailey’s into the cooling chocolate cream.
Carefully lightly-whip the chocolate mixture until it cools completely.
Once cool, carefully pour half of the chocolate mixture into the meringue, whipping both together on a medium speed. Add the rest of the chocolate, reserving some if the meringue starts to get too creamy.
Spoon mousse into your serving bowls/coffee cups/martini glasses
Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Top with Whipped Cream and espresso beans and garnish with a strawberry.
Dressing Up Your Desserts
Desserts are one thing that don’t need to take too much time and effort—it’s very easy to make a store-bought dessert look sexy! Simply buy a cake or pie from a bakery, take it home and dress it up! Here are some ideas to get you started.
Fruit & Berries
Fruit is the easiest way to dress up a store-bought dessert. Raspberries, cherries, sliced peaches, blackberries, strawberries, you name it—pile it up on top of or around the cake, and it will look more decadent already. Pomegranate seeds are a fabulous addition, and they lend a nice fresh crunch to the dessert too!
A Bit of Green
Everything looks better with a bit of green! Keep the leaves on the strawberries, add a sprig of mint, or place your dessert on top of a bed of lemon leaves for the perfect pop of brightness!
Roses & Flowers
Roses make everything better. Wash a few stems and press them gently into the sides of your cake or around the platter. Instantly more elegant and beautiful!
A dusting of powdered (confectioner’s) sugar can instantly elevate your desserts. Place a bit of the sugar in a sieve and lightly dust over the entire cake. Don’t neglect the fruit and roses—they look beautiful iced, too!