Heart-Shaped Box

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Cocktail History

The Heart-Shaped Box is a modern cocktail that was created by Brad Farran at Death & Company in New York City, New York. Named for the popular Nirvana song that was released in 1993, the recipe mixes French brandy with a unique flavor combination of floral elderflower, tart lemon, sugary cinnamon syrup, savory balsamic vinegar, aromatic bitters, and strawberries to make a sweet yet spicy and sophisticated drink.

Cocktail Ingredients

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Cognac: This is a type of brandy made in Cognac, France with distilled white wine. We used Courvoisier VSOP Cognac because it has a rich mouthfeel and a delightful brandy spice with notes of peach, almond, and cinnamon. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Escape Mocktails Non-Alcoholic Cognac Alternative in place of the brandy.

Elderflower Liqueur: This is a liqueur made with elderflowers, citrus, herbs, sugar, and alcohol. We used Edinburgh Gin Distillery Elderflower Gin Liqueur because it’s high quality and has a fresh, floral aroma and flavor. For a mocktail version of this drink, try Monin Premium Elderflower Syrup in place of the elderflower liqueur.

Lemon Juice: This is the liquid juice of a lemon. We used freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Cinnamon Syrup: This is a sweetener made with cinnamon sticks, white sugar, gum Arabic powder, saline solution, and water. We made ours at home using Alex’s sous vide recipe.

Balsamic Vinegar: This is a dark and intensely flavored vinegar made with grape must.

Aromatic Bitters: This is a food product made with botanicals, herbs, and alcohol. We used Angostura Aromatic Bitters. For a mocktail version of this drink, try All The Bitter Alcohol-Free Aromatic Bitters in place of the aromatic bitters.

Strawberries: This a small red fruit that is soft and juicy and has yellow seeds on its skin.

Bartending Tools

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following bar tools:

Jigger: This is used to measure and pour ingredients. We used the Japanese jigger from the A Bar Above 14-Piece Silver Bar Set.

Muddler: This is used to muddle ingredients. We used the HQY Stainless Steel Cocktail Muddler.

Boston Shaker: This is used to shake ingredients. We used the Boston shaker from the A Bar Above 14-Piece Silver Bar Set.

Hawthorne Strainer: This is used to strain out ice and solid ingredients after the cocktail is shaken. We used the A Bar Above Hawthorne Strainer.

Paring Knife: This is used to cut ingredients. We used the OXO Good Grips 3.5 Inch Paring Knife.

Juicer: This is used to juice citrus. We used the ALEEHAI Manual Fruit Juicer.

Cocktail Pick: This is used to hold the garnish. We used one from the Viski Gunmetal Cocktail Pick Set.

Tasting Notes

The Heart-Shaped Box begins with aromas of strawberries and florals, has a taste that features a complex combination brandy and elderflower, and ends with a bit of tartness from the vinegar on the finish along with some lemon to balance it all out.

Our Opinion of This Cocktail Recipe: This recipe had been on our list of cocktails to try for a while, and we’re glad we finally did because we both thought this eclectic mix of flavors was really tasty. It took a few sips for Alex to warm up to it, but Kendall was immediately in love with its interesting profile.

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Which of our palates is yours most like?
Find out if your palate is most similar to Alex’s or Kendall’s by answering five questions.

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Alex’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“At my first sip I wasn’t quite sure about this, but it did end up growing on me after Kendall exclaimed how much she liked it. She described it as ‘a masculine strawberry cocktail’ because it features plenty of strawberry flavor from the one muddled berry and complexity from the balsamic vinegar. The rest of the ingredients aren’t exactly noteworthy, but they all work together to make a pretty unique work of art. Obviously, the folks at Death & Co are famous for a reason, and while their cocktails may be a bit of an acquired taste, they are well thought out and offer the best of all worlds.”

Kendall’s Take: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“If you’re on the lookout for what could pass as a Valentine’s Day-inspired cocktail that has a more masculine vibe to it, this is a fabulous choice. The spicy brandy and cinnamon blend surprisingly well with the recipe’s fruity and floral notes, and the vinegar is a wildcard that adds an intriguing savoriness. I really, really liked this cocktail and could see myself sipping it again in the fall and winter months.”

Recipe

This cocktail recipe was adapted from Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails by Alex Day and Nick Fauchald.

Sale
Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails
Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails
Hardcover Book; Kaplan, David; Nick Fauchald & Alex Day (Author); English (Publication Language)
$33.44

AuthorDeath & Co

Yields1 ServingPrep Time5 mins

Ingredients
 2 oz Cognac
 ¾ oz Elderflower Liqueur
 ¾ oz Lemon Juice
 ½ tsp Balsamic Vinegar
 1 dash Aromatic Bitters
 2 Strawberries

Method
1

Stem strawberries, add one strawberry to a shaker, and muddle gently.

2

Add brandy, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup, balsamic vinegar, bitters, and cubed ice to shaker.

3

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

4

Strain into a lowball glass over fresh cracked ice.

5

Cut remaining strawberry into a heart shape.

6

Garnish with heart-shaped strawberry.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 2 oz Cognac
 ¾ oz Elderflower Liqueur
 ¾ oz Lemon Juice
 ½ tsp Balsamic Vinegar
 1 dash Aromatic Bitters
 2 Strawberries

Directions

Method
1

Stem strawberries, add one strawberry to a shaker, and muddle gently.

2

Add brandy, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup, balsamic vinegar, bitters, and cubed ice to shaker.

3

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

4

Strain into a lowball glass over fresh cracked ice.

5

Cut remaining strawberry into a heart shape.

6

Garnish with heart-shaped strawberry.

Heart-Shaped Box

Make It a Mocktail: Use Escape Mocktails Non-Alcoholic Cognac Alternative in place of the brandy, Monin Premium Elderflower Syrup in place of the elderflower liqueur, and All The Bitter Alcohol-Free Aromatic Bitters in place of the aromatic bitters to try a booze-free version of this drink.

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More Valentine’s Day Cocktails

If you like this Valentine’s Day-inspired cocktail recipe, here are a few others we’ve tried that you may enjoy:

Park Avenue Cocktail Recipe

Park Avenue: A sparkling wine cocktail made with brandy, orange curaçao, and red wine syrup

Brandywine Sour Cocktail Recipe

Brandywine Sour: A brandy cocktail made with sweet & sour mix, dessert wine, and red wine syrup

Café Amore Cocktail Recipe

Café Amore: A brandy cocktail made with coffee, amaretto liqueur, simple syrup, whipped cream, and almonds

Cherry Clafoutis Cocktail Recipe

Cherry Clafoutis: A brandy cocktail made with white crème de cacao, maraschino liqueur, and a cherry

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