Cocktails have long been a source of inspiration for love and related artefacts. But their stirring of emotion can’t be prescribed to alcohol content alone. According to one bartender, selected ingredients can elicit a range of specific reactions – including those of “love and aphrodisiacs.”

So says Fred Siggins, a former senior bartender at the award-winning Black Pearl on Brunswick Street. This Valentine’s Day Siggins will run Aphrodisiacs and Love Potions, a cocktail workshop and food pairing in a leafy courtyard hidden inside the Immigration Museum, that will muse on the myths and legends of love potions.

“We’ll get some people together, give them some oysters and canapés and I’ll walk them through how to make three different cocktails that relate to love, aphrodisiacs and having a good time one way or another,” says Siggins. “I do think all cocktails are aphrodisiacs in their own way – they’re delicious, a little bit frivolous, and really about spending time with the people you’re with.”

So what ingredients court such attention? Siggins says passionfruit, pomegranate, ginger, ginseng, chilli and chocolate will be on the menu – each for their history as much their taste.

“Ginger and ginseng have been used for centuries in Eastern cultures with the belief they’re supposed to increase blood flow,” says Siggins, adding: “especially helpful for male virility.”

“Pomegranate, meanwhile, is Middle Eastern in origin but has a lot of associations, both in Middle Eastern mythology and culture and also in the Judeo-Christian biblical tradition in terms of its relationships to love and sex. Some people think the original fruit from the Garden of Eden was a pomegranate.”

Those attending Siggins’s event will also be able to enjoy an intimate late-night viewing of the museum’s current exhibitions Love and Kahlil Gibran: The Garden of the Prophet, until 9pm.

Aphrodisiacs and Love Potions isn’t the only event utilising the museum’s courtyard space in summer during the Love exhibition. Kicking off the series the week prior on Friday February 8, I Feel Love is a night devoted to love through a queer lens. Co-curated by Kelly Lovemonster of event series Swagger Like Us, which promotes LGBTQI artists of colour, the party will include gender-fluid interdisciplinary artist Bhenji Ra, performance art duo the Huxleys and voguing sensations from the House of Slé. The fabulous Zodiac, who took out of the title of Miss Deadly in the Miss First Nation 2018 pageant, will be MC on the night.

Two weeks later, on Saturday February 23, the garden will host a tribute to legendary Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran. Lebanese food and music will be served, spoken-word artists will conduct readings of Gibran’s poetry and perform music inspired by it, and guests can make their own markouk and manakish (flatbread) in a special workshop.

For more details on Love, the Summer of Love events and more, visit museumsvictoria.com.au/immigrationmuseum.

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