How to turn on the charm for Valentine’s Day in New York
Most of the fun of Valentine’s Day is all of the decadence that comes along with it. You don’t even have to have a significant other to indulge in flowers, chocolates, or sigh at the sight of breathtaking views. Well, call New York “Cupid,” because its options for romantic gestures can turn anyone into a Casanova and woo any heart.
Some say that giving is the greatest form of receiving, but no matter which end of the gifting ritual you’re on, quintessential Valentine’s Day presents are never more gratifying than in New York. Forego the heart-shaped boxes in drugstore aisles and indulge in fine chocolates, such as those from Jacques Torres. The award-winning pastry chef earned the nickname “Mr. Chocolate” after opening his gourmet chocolate factory in Brooklyn in 2000, which has since expanded into shop-fronts all around Manhattan. Each cocoa-bean shaped store features a Chocolate Bar offering bevies of chocolate-centric drinks, a café and a bonbon counter of cases of handmade creations of caramels, truffles, and chocolate-covered everything.
Bond No. 9 takes a similarly artisanal approach to perfumery. Each men’s, women’s and unisex scent corresponds to a different New York landmark or neighborhood, from the floral sophistication of “Park Avenue” to the incensed smokiness of “Andy Warhol Silver Factory.” Or, let your loved one mix his or her own scent for an individualized aroma – haute perfumery, if you will. And, speaking of classic New York monuments, Tiffany & Co. still reigns as romance’s jeweler of choice. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but if you’re looking to say something, have a locket or understated cuff bracelet engraved onsite. And for him, leather goods and watches sit equally handsomely in the famed glass cases.
Nights on the town can be extraordinarily sweet at these après dinner (or anytime, really) dessert spots. Find aptly named Spot Dessert Bar hidden down a flight of stairs on St. Mark’s Place, though its Asian-inspired desserts are no secret. Designed like an upscale cafeteria, the vibe is casual, but the dessert tapas are decadent – Japanese citrus cream bars with chocolate pearls, for example, or their must-try chocolate green tea lava cake. Uptown across from Central Park, attached to the Neue Galerie museum is the classic Viennese restaurant, Café Sabarsky. Tortes and strudels and mousses, oh my! Every European delicacy – roasted plum compote, fine coffee mousse cream, marzipan – is served on silver platters to diners seated in Adolf Loos wood chairs. Stop in throughout the day for a quick treat, or make a reservation for one of their cabaret dinners at night. Sweet Revenge offers an atmosphere in between – cupcakes, beer and wine served in a darling café replete with a metal countertop bar, old diner lights and subway tiled walls. Use one of their pairing menus to find a beer or wine to accompany your pistachio cardamom, Malaysian coconut or creamsicle cupcake.
Gifts and sweets aside, all you really need for a perfect date is the city itself. See the city from above at the top of the Empire State Building, which is open until 2 a.m. daily, with live music every Thursday-Sunday nights. For a souvenir, have your picture taken on the Observation Deck with all of the lights glistening in the background. A day in Central Park is easily filled with exercises in romance. See the 840 acres in their entirety via horse drawn carriage or bike, which ease the trek up to the magnificent European-styled Conservatory Gardens at the top of the park. Sheep’s Meadow lends itself perfectly to picnics, see the skyline reflect atop the Reservoir and watch the sunset from the top of Belvedere Castle. And for an inimitable New York date night, attend a performance at Lincoln Center. For classical opera, Borodin’s Prince Igor tells the story of a Russian prince and plays Valentine’s Day night, and Die Fledermaus and Rusalka sandwich the nights of the holiday itself. The New York City Ballet performs Balanchine’s Coppélia, a story of a budding romance between two villagers, on Valentine’s Day, too. But tickets or no tickets, Lincoln Center never fails to impress – the trio of buildings alight from within with modern chandeliers, and in the center of all of the promenade, and elaborate fountain – a perfect centerpiece for an amorous night.