You know the old saying—oysters will put lead in your pencil, and cinnamon buns will make you want to sharpen it. Okay that’s not an old saying, but it probably should be. There are a number of foods that are supposed to have near mythical aphrodisiac properties. Oysters are probably the most famous of them all, but there are many more lesser-known edibles that are believed to put the “grrr” in Viagra.
Whether or not aphrodisiacs really work is debatable, so we’re going to give you the scoop on the science (or lack thereof) behind 10 aphrodisiac foods and let you decide for yourself if they’re worth trying. We even suggest a cocktail for every aphrodisiac on our list to console you, should any of these foods fail to turn you on. Either way we’ll make sure you’ll have all the info you need to get happy with your spouse/ boyfriend/ girlfriend/ bestie-with-benefits this Valentine’s Day.
Honey’s effect on your libido (if any) seems to be mixed in origin. Some (like Mark Douglas Hill in his book, The Aphrodisiac Encyclopaedia) attribute its success as an aphrodisiac to the simple fact that honey provides a natural sugar rush. When that sugar rush doesn’t have to compete other sources of sugar in your diet, it’s akin to the intense rush you’d feel when aroused, as both sugar and sex trigger the same opiate and dopamine responses in the brain that cause you to experience happier feelings (and the subsequent cravings for more sex and sugar.) Others, like Discovery’s HowStuffWorks, attribute honey’s efficacy as an aphrodisiac to the presence of B vitamins and boron, both of which seem to increase and regulate human sex hormones.
Hey, if honey works for you and your valentine, great. If the best part of waking up isn’t sex, well, then there’s always a boozy brunch to look forward to. The National Honey Board’s Bee-lini cocktail will get you off to a great start either way. Even better? It’s only three ingredients: fresh, muddled raspberries, honey and Prosecco.
It’s long been considered an aphrodisiac because of the presence of a certain neurochemical known as phenylethylamine (PEA). PEA is a stimulant that facilitates those happy feelings that usually come along with falling in love and arousal. But as the New York Times and the Science Channel point out, there’s not enough of the stuff in chocolate to really cause a significant aphrodisiac effect. Plus, whatever small amounts of PEA that you do happen to ingest as a result of consuming chocolate is likely to be digested and processed by monoamine oxidase (MAO) enzymes before it can even have an effect on your brain. (Science!). You’d be better off just meeting someone with whom you have chemistry and just letting your brain produce the PEA on its own.
You can get chocolate boxed, wrapped around fruit or heart-shaped. It’ll show up as teeny tiny truffles or as life-sized edible sculptures. No matter how it’s sold, there’s no denying that for many people a love for chocolate probably rivals their own love for actual people. For these chocoholics, it’s best not to compete with or otherwise get in the way of their addiction to the cocoa bean. It’s Valentine’s Day, be a buddy and help your loved ones over-indulge in the sweet stuff by serving up the Spiked Jones, a rich, boozy hot chocolate cocktail from Martha Stewart that features semi-sweet chocolate, heavy cream, chocolate-covered coffee beans, whipped cream and Kahlua.
Oysters have been touted as an aphrodisiac for many reasons: the presence of zinc, traces of amino acids that have been shown to increase sex hormones (though those findings are debatable since that research study included clams and mussels, not just oysters) and even just the “sensual” appearance and texture of this type of shellfish. Whether or not they work for you in the bedroom is up to you, but if you’re looking for a boozier way to consume them with your partner, we’ve got just the cocktail for you.
Ok, so the name of this recipe doesn’t sound terribly romantic. But the Bloody Mary Oyster Shooters aren’t for those lovey-dovey, saccharine sweet (usually newbie) couples out there. They’re for those couples that have been around for a while, are comfortable in their own skin and want to venture beyond the standard sugary pink fare. Love isn’t always sweet, so why the hell should your cocktail be? Want to add a little bit of drama? Go ahead, take a shot.
Coffee contains caffeine. Caffeine is a drug that has been categorized as a stimulant. A stimulant is a drug that causes increased activity in your body’s central nervous system, specifically the brain. According to Mental Floss, while it’s uncertain if caffeine actually enhances your sex drive, it can cause symptoms like increased heart rate, which are also associated with sexual arousal. Basically, the idea is if you feel like you’ve got the energy to have sex, you’re more likely to have it. It’s not necessarily the coffee itself; you could probably feel that way using other sources of caffeine or even by consuming ginseng.
Who said coffee cocktails always have to be some boring shade of brown? Why can’t it be purple and decked out in flowers? Absolut’s Island Rose combines a few of the nicest perks of Valentine’s Day: flowers, candy and booze. Bonus: You can actually eat the flowers, provided that you pick the right ones to garnish your drink (read: non-poisonous). We recommend lavender blossoms, violets, or a red hibiscus flower. And with the notable addition of coffee-based Kahlua, the Island Rose is the perfect morning pick-me-up for your valentine, complete with an edible flower arrangement.
Turns out that strawberries, while rich in folic acid and vitamin C as CNN and The Doctors point out, offer no real aphrodisiac benefit. Folic acid and vitamin C, however, are an important part of the conception and development of healthy babies, as they can increase sperm count and help prevent birth defects. So you got that going for you.
With all of the more inventive cocktail options out there, serving up strawberries and champagne on Valentine’s Day seems akin to getting stuck in that stale “dinner-and-a-movie” rut damn near every couple seems to be trapped in. But if you’re going to insist on the berries and bubbly combo, why not serve up the Avion Strawberry Fizz, a more fun, updated version of the classic? For a more relaxed, fun night in, add a splash of tequila, lemon juice and agave nectar into the mix. The lemon and agave nectar will no doubt add extra brightness and sweetness. And who doesn’t like tequila? You can watch an instructional video on how to put together Fine Wine and Good Spirits’ Avión Strawberry Fizz here.
Overall, the reputation that cherries have aphrodisiac qualities seems to be all for naught and mostly based on its red coloring and the fact that “cherry” is often used as a slang term for virginity and/or a certain female sexual organ.
[Insert obligatory reference to Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” here.]
Eat ‘em if you love ‘em, but there’s no extra loving to be had here just because you ate a bowlful of cherries. In fact, a study from the Smell and Taste Research Foundation found that the smell of the tart fruit actually lowered sexual arousal in women.
Our suggestion for a cherry-based cocktail? Not every Valentine’s Day has to be a night in or the standard fancy dinner out. Maybe you’re the type of couple that loves to go out dancing. If you are, you’re not going to want to mess with a heavy, super-complicated cocktail. Skip the bar at the club (and the long lines), and go have fun with the BBC’s light and refreshing Cherry Smash, which features cherries, an orange wedge, lemon juice, mint leaves, sugar syrup and most importantly, cherry bourbon whisky.
It’s been considered an aphrodisiac since 500 B.C. according to NPR. Cultivated and consumed by the Aztecs, its original name, “ahuacate” is actually the Aztec word for “testicles”. Who wants to guess why? (Hint: It grows in pairs. Their shape. Plus, you know, the whole belief that it was an aphrodisiac.) But does science back up that belief? Yes and no. Avocados do contain the nutrients necessary to aid in the support of sexual health, particularly for women (folate and Vitamin E), but a few servings of them aren’t going to provide enough of those nutrients to really turn anyone on.
We admit that the inclusion of avocados on this list is odd. No one really wants to think of their game-day guacamole that way. And the idea of them being turned into a cocktail might be just outside many people’s culinary comfort zones. But we here at Paste prefer to look at this as another opportunity for you and your partner to try new things. Plus, it is not as if avocados in drinks is completely unheard of. All over the world people are downing them in smoothies and milkshakes. It was only a matter of time before they started adding booze. And if you’re going drink an avocado cocktail, Epic’s Effen Avocado is not a bad way to go. Effen Avocado features cucumber vodka, lemon juice, avocado puree, agave nectar and soda water.
Besides the fact that it contains alcohol, red wine is also known for being heart healthy, due to the presence of reservatrol, a polyphenol, which is a plant-based chemical compound that has antioxidant properties. And as Healthline points out, when it comes to men’s sexual health, the bottom line is, whatever helps the heart (and the circulatory system) function better, also helps male sexual performance. Why? Because erections are basically a function of a healthy circulatory system and poor circulation can adversely affect a man’s ability to perform sexually.
For women, a study published in 2009 in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, concluded that moderate consumption of red wine (one to two glasses a day) led to an increase/enhancement in sexual desire, lubrication and overall sexual function when compared with women who abstained from drinking. (But take these findings with a grain of salt, as even the study itself admitted that it used a small sample size of participants, allowed said participants to self-report their sexual experiences and did not utilize “laboratory exams” to support their findings.)
A good glass of red wine is something wonderful all on its own. Its often gorgeously deep shade of red is enough to be evocative of romance and desire all by itself. But if you’re in the mood for something different, and we know some of you are, try this simple, heavily deconstructed take on a sangria, the Kalimotxo, a cocktail that originates from the Basque region of Spain and France. Rosie Schaap’s version and is only three ingredients: Cola, Spanish red wine and lemon juice.
A simple search on Google with the terms “cinnamon aphrodisiac” will bring up a startling number of odd ways to use the smoky spice in the bedroom. From cinnamon body oils, to cinnamon bun cologne to even personal lubricant, there’s no doubt that people’s love for cinnamon extends far beyond pumpkin spice lattes and the holidays.
But does it actually work as an aphrodisiac? Science says…not much on the subject. The only compelling study we found on the use of cinnamon as an aphrodisiac only measured the effect of its scent on men’s sexual arousal, not on its consumption. Curiously, according to Psychology Today, the only scent in the study that caused men to experience erections (as measured by penile gauges) was the scent of cinnamon buns.
In general, the only other effect we found that cinnamon seems to have on people’s sexual desire was the fact that the warming sensation that occurs once a person consumes cinnamon is similar to the same flushed feeling people feel when aroused.
We could go on and on about fancy and luxurious aphrodisiac-infused cocktails with random produce and edible flowers, but as anyone in a long-term relationship knows, it’s not always so much the novelty of these props that keeps the romance alive. Most of the time it’s little ordinary moments filled with comfort and compassion that keep you and your partner going. Forget the caviar dreams, its the cinnamon roll mornings that you really cherish and remember. So in honor of those simple, cozy moments with your valentine, here’s a cocktail to capture the comforting warmth and nostalgia of those mornings, Food Network star Sandra Lee’s Cinnamon Roll Cocktail recipe.
Okay, stop giggling. The aphrodisiac abilities of bananas extend beyond silly penis-shaped produce jokes. Its efficacy as an aphrodisiac has little to do with its size or shape. It’s all about what’s inside: Vitamin B, potassium and an enzyme called bromelain, according to The Dr. Oz Show. Bromelain causes increased testosterone production in men and vitamin B and potassium increase energy levels. When it comes to bananas and your sex drive, it’s not the size of the boat but the cargo it carries.
You’d think such a romantic holiday would happen in a much warmer month like May or June. February’s wintry weather has its advantages (hot chocolate and a roaring fireplace, anyone?) but if you’re still longing for warmer weather this Valentine’s Day, why not kick off the celebration with a tropical-beach themed drink like the Frozen Irish Banana cocktail? Frangipani Beach Resort’s Frozen Irish Banana features Bailey’s Irish Cream, Coco Lopez, half and half, light rum, a banana, and shaved coconut.