behind the bardrinksfood

Valentine’s Day Drink Recipe (or How I Met My Boyfriend)

by Maxwell Tielman

I met my boyfriend, Daniel, almost two years ago today, on a frigid Sunday in February that most wouldn’t venture outside for. I wouldn’t say that our first meeting was a “date,” per se, but in the self-written folklore of our relationship, we like to say that it was. I also wouldn’t say that we actually “met” for the first time in person. Like most romances in the twenty-first century, the proverbial flames were kindled not through a chance meeting in a coffee shop, but over an exchange of e-mails.

I had been a longtime fan of Daniel’s blog, Manhattan Nest, and loved reading his hilarious slant on apartment life in the big city. One day at work, while perusing his blog when I really should have been Xeroxing files, I decided to take a chance and ask him on a thrifting excursion. I didn’t quite expect a response, and I was beyond ecstatic to find one in my inbox not long after. Daniel seemed not just interested but genuinely enthused about meeting. We decided that February 13th was as good a day as ever and made plans to meet at one of Daniel’s favorite thrifting locations in Bushwick.

Let me tell you, meeting at a junk shop is a great way to break the ice. Unlike meeting at a coffee shop, something that could very well lead to awkward silences and even more awkward conversation, junk shops provide ample things to talk about, look at and climb over. Also, there’s no chance that you’re not going to look a crazy hot mess while scrambling over heaps of chairs and debris, so you just gotta embrace it.

Like most good first non-dates, neither Daniel nor I wanted to call it quits after we checked out of the junk shop. So Daniel quite chivalrously agreed to help me carry my spoils back to my Clinton Hill apartment and then accompany me to a well-deserved dinner at one of my favorite spots: Maggie Brown. A small, cozy space near Pratt Institute, this New Orleans-infused neo-American joint is big on charm and even bigger on delicious, decadent eats. I’m not going to say that we ordered two desserts, but I’m also not going to say that we didn’t.

The rest, as they say, is history. Daniel and I have now been together for two crazy, whirlwind years that included a new apartment, two new dogs and a whole lot more thrifting. I’m so excited to see what the next two will bring! As a little nod to our first date and to offer a tip to others looking to have a good time on Valentine’s Day, we’ve decided to share a favorite drink recipe from a favorite restaurant: Maggie Brown’s Ethel O’Connel cocktail. For more photos of this fabulous place and the full drink recipe, continue after the jump! — Max

The Ethel O’Connel from Maggie Brown

  • 2 1/2 oz whiskey
  • 1 1/2 oz Baileys
  • shot of espresso


Mix ingredients, shake well, pour over ice. Add cinnamon stick for flavor.

Also, just an FYI — Maggie Brown has a spectacular deal going on for this year’s Valentine’s Day: a filet mignon three-course prix fixe that includes a bottle of wine — for just $50. So heed my advice and getcho self a reservation!

Special thanks to Katie Salas from Maggie Brown for whipping up a mean cocktail and letting me come shoot during lunch hour!

Suggested For You


  • I loved this – what a great way to brighten this gray, gray morning. I love these connections between these online spaces I love to visit. Now you just need to share what happened on that next day… meeting up on the day before Valentine’s Day is gutsy. ;)

  • Such a cute read! I’m also a fan of Daniels blog and have a creepily great time checking out the life that you guys are making together. I guess it’s another twenty-first century thing

  • Now you’ve gone and done it; every single person in America is going to send an email to their favorite blogger today asking them to go “thrifting”. Congratulations, you have just started “a thing”. I say that with confidence because this is just the sort of thing I will probably try it myself (and no doubt fail). :-)

    And you know, now that I think about it, your story would making a charming book or film. Hmmm? Thanks for the smile today!

  • Hahah, I totally agree with Teresa! But really, I think Max you are a hero for reaching out. We should all be so brave to connect with our “internet friends” in real life and not be afraid of coming off creepy… too many potential friendships never happen due to that fear.

    Thanks for sharing this lovely story. <3

  • Max, I love your writing! Your posts always have such wonderful mix of humor and warmth. Cheers to you and Daniel on two years (and many more)!

  • In love with this post, Max! Your posts are sincerely always my favorite. (Oh, and fellow upstater here, in Syracuse!)

  • awwww. Your post just saved my day.
    And I am so going to the liquor store for ingredients.

    cheers to both of you, many more happy years together!

  • I’ve been to SO MANY restaurants since I moved here and Maggie Brown is easily my favorite. So tasty.

    You should add to your meeting story that on the EXACT SAME day as your first date, I was browsing and found Manhattan-Nest, texted you, and said, “You should totally date this Manhattan-Nest guy.” :D

  • What a sweet love story! I love that your first “get together” was the day before Valentine’s Day! Did you have a second date on Valentine’s Day?

  • This needs to come with a warning. My boyfriend just ran off to get a espresso shot, then mixed it without asking me… and the baileys curdled. So make sure the espresso is cold. Or you’ll waste a lot of good whiskey.

  • Who cannot be fond of you two!! What a beautiful story! I love to check out what is going on in the Manhattan-Nest, too, hilarious and heartwarming as it always is. Keep on going strong, you guys!

  • Always love first-meeting stories (I think this is partly because my boyfriend and I can’t actually remember meeting each other… for real. It was at some point during the first week of Uni is all I know!) and this one was so sweet. Love Manhattan Nest too :)

  • What a cute post. I love your story and the restaurant sounds great too. I wish I had the ingredients to make The Ethel O’Connel from Maggie Brown right now!

  • I made many connections reading this adorable post. My husband and I first met and went on a non-date after emailing for several weeks first about a common interest (for us, electronic music ). Thanks for the reminder, and for the comfort that there are others out there like us!

  • I love your story! The photo of Daniel and Mekko is so beautiful! Happy Valentines Day to you both!

  • If it wasn’t one already, it started being a date the moment he began carrying your stuff!