|If spirits arouse the taste buds, and wines wrap themselves around properly matched food, it’s only natural that liqueurs ignite a connoisseur’s passion. Whether it is the lush body imparted by dairy cream, spicy hits of exotic herbs or pleasing silkiness of fruit essences, liqueurs are the catalyst for a liquid love affair in cocktail form. Moreover, with February associated with all things sweet—Valentine’s Day, fresh-cut roses and candy, it is only fitting that liqueurs are in the spotlight this month. Creativity will be in full flower, with top shelf potions melded and married into rich, decadent cocktails that bring sensuality and sweetness to the table. In a neighborhood where Marina del Rey kisses Venice, you can now take a Bite! out of life! The West Side’s newest destination for Asian street food serves up inventive takes on Robata – Yaki and sushi. Robata-Yaki skewers are prepared strictly au natural—no dipping sauces—flavored the previous night in their own sheer marinades. Also guaranteed to seduce is the hot-to-trot M-80 Roll, with spicy tuna, cream cheese, jalapeno peppers, flash-fried in tempura batter and drizzled a secret signature M-80 sauce. To keep pulses racing, the bar does its part to create cocktails that balance playfulness and sophistication—as well as soothe the bite from the M-80 roll. The Venice Oil Slick glides into the glass with Midori Melon Liqueur, Fris Vodka, Cruzan Coconut Rum, fresh pineapple and lime juice with a float of Flava Black Vodka. Still hungry? Bite! has desert and romance covered with their take on the Chocolate Martini—Fris Vodka, white crème de cacao, with Godiva White & Dark Chocolate entwined. FaveLiqueur4: Bite! Bar Manager Don Foley compliments a menu of spicy foods with the Midori-based Venice Oil Slick and Chocolate Martini using White Chocolate and Dark Godiva liqueurs. On the other hand, West Hollywood has had a love affair with Mirabelle since 1971, appealing to everybody from ladies who lunch to happy hour revelers to romance-seeking couples. Looking to keep things interesting, bartender Melanie Sliwka wanted to create the perfect young-at-heart cocktail that recalls the beloved Bomb Pop popsicle but with very adult appeal. She achieves it with Midori, pineapple juice and grenadine. Another lively cocktail, the Baklashot, made with Amaretto DiSaronno, Goldschlager® Cinnamon Schnapps and premium vodka was specially created for Mirabelle’s “My Big Fat Greek Wednesdays” (they have international theme nights during the week). All told, however, it’s the perfect Valentine’s Day cocktail for those who prefer spicy over sweet, with a flavor that recalls Red Hots cinnamon candy. And it looks like a million, too! FaveLiqueur3: The Love Bomb: One of Mirabelle’s bartender’s prepares Melanie Sliwka’s layered “Bomb Pop” martini. In Beverly Hills, the new Aqua Lounge is setting out to wet the whistles of adventurous diners and Hollywood scenesters. This provocative, under the sea” restaurant and lounge is preparing world cuisine with an Asian flair, “tapas style” under the auspices of 45 year veteran Chef Janos Kiss and hands-on Chef Ian Kleinman. Swimming up to the bar, meanwhile, patrons will be happy to dive in with an AquaTini, a splashy take on the lemon drop made with Potter’s Blue Curacao Liqueur and Level Vodka. Riding the wave of success in Downtown Los Angeles, meanwhile is Roy’s. This restaurant getting a great buzz for bringing the romance and lushness of Hawaii to the city’s usually all-business center, sports a menu packed with Pan-Asian delights created by Roy Yamaguchi people worldwide have fallen in love with. Additionally, there is a whole garden full of signature cocktails to choose from. The Marula Martini in particular, is one those with a sweet tooth will really fall for. This luscious libation combines Amarula Cream Liqueur, characterized by its exotic fruit essences and flavors, mixed with Malibu Mango Run and topped with a cherry. FaveLiqueur1: Matt Krasnovski, Manager of Roy’s Downtown L.A. restaurant, with the fruity and fresh Marula Martini. At the Silver Spoon Hollywood Buffet for the 2006 Golden Globes, celebrity patrons fell in love with X-Rated Fusion Liqueur all over again especially as it was served along with cuisine from the new buzz-worthy restaurant Tangie (co-owned by actor/heartthrob Ryan Gossling and sommelier Chris Angulo). But then again, when it comes to a liqueur, this potion has real star quality with its sweet creamy/fruity taste, festive pink color and provocative name. And of course, there is just something so right about it when it comes to a real Valentine’s Day pleasure. To keep the mood light (and food-friendly), a cocktail of choice was the X-Rated Foreplay, consisting of 2 oz. of X-rated and 7 oz. of Her Energy Drink (regular or sugar-free) served over ice, proving the simplest relationships may be the best kind! FaveLiqueur6: Tangie Co-Owner Chris Angulo’s middle eastern fare pairs nicely with the clean, refreshing, slightly sweet flavor of X-Rated Foreplay—X-Rated Fusion Liqueur paired with Her Energy Drink. SIDEBAR The Lexicon of Liquid Love An introduction to liqueurs that take cocktails beyond “dessert in a glass.” Amaretto DiSaronno: This Amaretto, named for the town in which it is produced, is made from the highest quality ingredients—absolute alcohol, burnt sugar and the essences of seventeen selected herbs and fruits soaked in apricot kernel oil—and distilled in accordance with a special recipe that has not changed since its inception in 1525. Amarula Cream Liqueur: This rare liqueur is in part derived from the Marula fruit, grown on trees that are only found in sub equatorial Africa. The fruits are rich in vitamin C, and the nut packed with natural oil. To bring Amarula to life, carefully selected fruits are taken through fermentation, performed at 18°C - 20°C, where the natural fruit is converted to alcohol over seven to ten days. During this stage the solid fruit particles settle at the bottom of the tanks. The marula wine is distilled in copper pot-stills, and matured for two years in small oak barrels. The final step is the blending the liqueur with fresh cream until a smooth consistency is formed. Godiva Dark and White Chocolate Liqueurs: We just cannot get enough of Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur, recognized as the definitive foundation for chocolate martinis. Those who adore chocolate’s brighter side order up Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur. FaveLiqueur4a: (no caption) Goldschlager® Cinnamon Schnapps: This jazzy-tasting, slightly sweet ultimate indulgence is legendary--Swiss cinnamon schnapps enlivened with 24-Karat gold leaf flakes. Its bite may remind you of the knock-out cinnamon candy you loved as a kid, but use and mix with care. It is 87 proof, or 43.5% alcohol. FaveLiqueur2: (no caption) Midori: The happy, vivid green Melon liqueur created by Japan’s Suntory was launched in the United States in 1978. Since its debut, Midori has gained an outstanding reputation among bartenders and cocktail designers worldwide for quality and versatility. Today, it is available in more than 30 countries worldwide, and is distributed in the U.S. by Allied-Domeque Spirits. Potter’s Blue Curacao Liqueur: This vivid blue potion inspired by the exotic tropical fruits gives a zesty, citrus-y zip and vivid color to any cocktail. It is available through Frank-Lin Distillers Products, Inc., established in 1933. FaveLiqueur5: (no caption) X-Rated Fusion Liqueur: It is a tempting threesome of Province-grown blood oranges, tropical Brazilian fruits (mango and passion fruit) and vodka that boasts great adaptability and flavors that mate well with a variety of mixers.