Let's get it on
    Photo by Daniel Schuleman / North by Northwestern

    Chocolate-dipped strawberries and rhinoceros horns — two vastly different foods with the same purported effect: sexual arousal. Aphrodisiacs have been known for hundreds of years, helping people get over their fears of laughable sexual performance or lack of desire. In the past, foods were often characterized as aphrodisiacs based on the way they looked or how exotic they were. Even today, people believe chocolate heightens desire or that oysters increase libido, but are any of these claims true?

    John Michael Bailey, a Northwestern psychology professor, states that all effects felt from traditional aphrodisiacs are actually in people’s minds — a placebo effect. But never fear, because he also says that aphrodisiacs — substances that when taken increase sexual desire and arousal — in their definitive forms do actually exist. The problem is that most of them are illegal.

    Bremalanotide, a peptide that was discovered while trying to create a drug to make people tan, works in both men and women to increase sexual arousal. Unfortunately, it can only be ingested through a subcutaneous injection, and it isn’t FDA approved. Other drugs, like methamphetamines, greatly increase one’s sexual motivation, and marijuana is purported to give more intense orgasms.

    “None of these are an aphrodisiac that you can stick into someone’s brownie,” Bailey says. Instead, he suggests that “the strongest aphrodisiac is expressing romantic sexual interest to someone in direct enough a way for them to get it.”

    Bailey also sweetly reminds us that “alcohol is the most widely used drug to affect sexual behavior, more by decreasing inhibition rather than creating sexual desire.” Since most aphrodisiacs are considered in one way or another to be illegal substances, there is no better way to start off a love-filled night than with a mixed drink. Or three.

    Oyster Shooter

    To start off your date, down an oyster shooter with your lover. Oysters were once considered to be aphrodisiacs because they are loaded with zinc, but also because of their appearance.


    Ponzu sauce

    1 quail egg

    1 oyster

    Green onion

    Fill a double shot glass halfway with sake, then fill the shot glass until it is three-fourths of the way full with ponzu sauce. Place the oyster inside. This is the hardest part — crack the quail egg and discard the egg white. Put the yolk on top, sprinkle it with a little bit of green onion, then throw that shot back.

    Wasabi Martini

    There’s nothing that arouses the senses quite like some spice. Kick up your libido with a nice dab of tear-inducing wasabi.


    1 1/2 shots of vodka

    1/2 shot lemon juice

    Splash of triple sec

    Glob of wasabi

    Throw everything into a shaker filled with ice cubes and mix well. Strain the mixture into chilled martini glasses. If you like, before filling the glasses, rim them with wasabi for an extra kick.

    Café Amaretto

    For thousands of years, people have believed that the scent of almonds was a strong aphrodisiac for women. End your evening with a hot cup of coffee with an irresistible twist.

    1 ounce amaretto almond liqueur

    1/2 ounce cognac

    4 ounces hot coffee

    First, brew the hot coffee. In a mug, pour the liqueur and the cognac before adding the coffee into the mixture. If you want, top your drink off with whipped cream. 


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