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Fiction & Drollery

Cupid's Cocktail: Elixirs of Love & Lust

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“I will show you a love potion without drug or herb, or any witch's spell; if you wish to be loved, love.”

― Hecato of Rhodes

Can magic potions make someone fall in love with you? Over the centuries, the desperately amorous have tried a bewildering, and frequently disgusting, array of ingredients in the pursuit of love. These have included: edible bulbs, mushrooms, mashed worms, various bodily fluids, garlic, onions, Spanish fly (actually a beetle), lentils, prunes, myrtle and carrots. What’s that you say? Is the cucumber an aphrodisiac? What an excellent question. Cucumbers contain vitamin C, manganese and silica, which all play a part in keeping one lusty. Also, according to a study by the neurologist Dr. Alan Hirsch, the scent of cucumbers (when combined with black liquorice) triggers a state of sexual arousal in some women. 

Perhaps the worst love elixir is the hallucinogenic datura plant. Historically it was used as a love elixir in various Asian countries. In South America it was given to women about to be buried alive to join their dead chieftain husbands. This extremely dangerous substance is potentially fatal and its side effects can include photophobia, amnesia and a state of delirium.

According to ‘The Book of Secrets of Albertus Magnus: Of the Virtues of Herbs, Stones, and Certain Beasts, Also a Book of the Marvels of the World ,’ a rather useful book from the 16th Century, eating a mixture of earthworms, leeks and periwinkles will encourage loving feelings (though not kisses, we would imagine).

In the Satyricon of Petronius, satyrion is named as a popular love elixir in ancient Greece. Satyrion may have been made from the plant ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris). Hippocrates recommended honey with fennel and liquorice to fire up the loins. One should always be careful to avoid developing satyriasis (a state of unquenchable ardour).

Do love potions work? In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night's Dream, Titania was compelled to fall in love with Bottom as the result of consuming a potion containing extracts from the wild pansy ’love-in-idleness’. In 2002 the Royal Society of Chemistry was asked by the Royal Shakespeare Company to investigate the flower’s effectiveness. The Society contacted experts at Quest International, a fragrance company to develop a scent incorporating extracts of the flower, known today as heartsease or viola tricolour. Quest added rose, violet and musk to enhance the scent and then tested it. Though it did have a pleasant scent, it failed to incite loving feelings. As the Stoic philosopher Hecato noted, the best love spell is to love.

Raspberry Rose Royale

How uncivilised to talk of love without a cocktail to hand! The deeply divine Raspberry Rose Royale is waiting to be wooed by you.

You will need:

25ml Hendrick’s Gin

5ml sugar syrup

1 fresh raspberry

1 splash of champagne


1. Combine the raspberry, gin and sugar syrup in a cocktail shaker and shake briskly.

2. Finely strain the mixture in a flute and top with champagne.

3.   Stir gently and enjoy!

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