Whether you’re planning a surprise, celebrating an anniversary or organising a romantic dinner, deciding which restaurant to book is just the tip of the indecision iceberg. You then need to consider: What time should we arrive? Will we drive or rideshare? Do we go to a bar before or after? What should I order (aka how do I avoid garlic breath and parsley teeth)? And how much will I tip without appearing stingy in front of my date? Woah, it’s enough to put a dampener on anyone’s mojo – and that’s before we’re even talking outfits!
This is why wining and dining at home has never been sexier. Date night at home means you can enjoy a few drinks without worrying about how you’ll get home, eat your meal minus the crowds and – most importantly – focus purely on your company. So, cue the Barry White album, spritz on your favourite fragrance and follow our steps to create the ultimate DIY date night.
A pre-dinner drink is the perfect icebreaker for fledgling relationships or a welcome circuit breaker for established couples who have just finished a hectic day at work. However, rather than jostling at a crowded bar for an overpriced cocktail that takes so long to make interest rates will have risen again before you take your first sip, date night at home offers a more attractive alternative. So wheel out the drinks cart and whip up easy classic cocktails, such as a negroni, side car or dirty martini.
No bar cart? No worries. You can now buy a wide selection of premixed cocktails – simply pour them into a fancy glass and hide the bottles or cans. Try cute cans of Curatif Amaretto Sour, which combines flavours of sweet marzipan and sour lemon.
If spirits are not your scene, a bottle of bubbly is the perfect aperitif. With notes of lemon peel and creamy cashew nuts, the Tassie-made Georg Jensen Hallmark Cuvée NV looks as luxe as it tastes, crowned with a keepsake designer stopper.
Music is a must for a romantic rendezvous because, let’s face it, nothing ruins the mood more than listening to each other chew. You could simply search for ‘date-night music’ on your favourite streaming app but choosing tunes that mean something to your relationship dials up the sentimentality minus the cheese.
For instance, choose the soundtrack you played at your wedding or the first band you saw in concert together. Or compile a list of songs from the year you met (which could be equal parts romantic and hilarious). If you’re in a new relationship, get to know each other better by streaming the ‘recently played’ list on your partner’s phone (Metallica, really?). But if you’re running out of time, line up some Ed Sheeran, Adele and Bruno Mars and you’re good to go.
Yes, you want to impress, but a word of caution: date night is not the occasion to try a new recipe that involves ingredients you can’t pronounce or the word soufflé. Instead, opt for simple fare that is easy to prepare. This way you can focus on being your relaxed, hospitable self, not a sweating, stressed masterchef.
For carnivores, you can’t go past classic steak frites (steak and chips). Simply buy the best beef you can afford (fillet or a well-marbled scotch fillet) and season well with salt before cooking on a hot chargrill (two minutes each side for medium-rare or to your liking). Rest then serve with extra-thin, air-fried chips, a green salad and herbed butter. The perfect accompaniment to this classic French dish is a Gallic red. Try Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages, which has notes of cherry, raspberry and a hint of spice.
Need a vego or vegan option? Let a packet of pasta be your wingman. Cook until al dente and toss with pesto or roasted vegetables, or make traditional Italian aglio e olio with olive oil, garlic, chilli flakes, parsley and lemon juice. Pair it with a light, dry rosé, such as Turkey Flat Rosé.
Perhaps the best date night of all is when no-one needs to cook. So pre-order a seafood platter from your local fishmonger and tuck into fresh oysters and cooked crab and prawns. Simply add a fresh garden salad, crusty bread and a glass of crisp white wine. Try Nepenthe Elevation Sauvignon Blanc, a zippy blend of citrus and tropical fruit flavours from the Adelaide Hills.
Once you’ve wined and dined, it’s time to bring out the romantic big guns – the gifts! A bottle of bubbles from the land of love is sure to put some sparkle in your relationship.
Pretty in pink Moët & Chandon Champagne Rosé offers full-bodied fruit flavours with a soft finish. Or for a gift as smooth as a Michael Bublé playlist, try Levenside 10YO Single Malt Scotch Whisky, a mellow, syrupy whisky with hints of candied ginger, sweet peach and honey.
So, that’s your at-home date night sorted. Love is in the air.
Products featured are available from 01/02/23 to 07/03/23, while stocks last. Some products or varieties featured may not be available in all stores.