The Utterly Inessential Valentine’s Shopping List Part II: Pink gin, heart-shaped earrings and a dog bed for the true love of your life

Every year, we round up the top gifts one could possibly give without going over-the-top-crazy for Valentine's Day. Fortunately, this year our Utterly Inessential columnist is in love. Unfortunately, her heart still belongs to gin. You can't win them all.

This time last year, it’s safe to say that I was having a little bit of a mare.

Recently, brutally dumped a week before my birthday (that was last week, for the benefit of readers who aren’t my best friend, my mother or grandmother), I would drag myself to work and open my inbox to 100+ emails extolling the wonders of February 14th. Thankfully, my wonderful boss made me copious cups of tea and cut down my schedule to the bare minimum.

The one thing he didn’t cut, however, was the Valentine’s shopping list.

Who is to say why this was? The hypotheses are endless but maybe, just maybe, he knew it would be an important step in my recovery.

The Promenade at The Dorchester - featuring The Dorchester Rose

The Promenade at The Dorchester – featuring The Dorchester Rose.

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What came next was, undoubtably, the height of my journalistic career – including the four-page-spread on how to spice up ones marriage I had published in Essentials at the tender age of 19. A bitter stream of vitriol lampooning that most romantic of days, shamelessly fuelled by my own pain. Glorious.

This year, my prospects have improved some. Reunited with my university crush, I’m once more on the happy side of love.

Fortunately for the schadenfreude of it all, his career as an officer among our country’s bravest keeps him chained to the coast and often out of contact, meaning this Valentine’s Day I will once more be curled up on my sofa, watching About Time, eating mint ice cream and drinking pink gin with my long-suffering flatmate. C’est la vie. 

A rose by any other name…

The Florist at The Dorchester-Dorchester rose-display and bouquet

The best Valentine’s gift you could ever give someone, arguably, definitely, is to breed a variety of rose and name it after them. It’s the height of romance, it’s suitably difficult and, unlike a star, you can keep it in your front room. Unfortunately, this process takes years at best, so while your seeds are a-sowing, pop over to Park Lane and have a look at the Dorchester Rose.

Designer florist Philip Hammond has transformed the hotel’s promenade with display upon display of the gorgeous blushed-white rose, which itself is seven years in the making. A bouquet of this very special flower, sold in the pop-up Florist in the hotel itself, is just the way to say ‘I love you’.

Find out more about The Dorchester Rose and The Promenade: Florist at Buy the signature bouquet for £65.

For sipping a romantic cocktail…or drinking to see the end of a bottle

Warner's Raspberry Gin

Once, a few of my girlfriends went out for ‘supplies’ on the last night of a girl’s holiday in Dorset and came back with three litres of gin for the six of us. We drove back to London later than we had intended.

It’s a staple, it’s continuously reinvented and it’s one for every single mood – gin really is the best of Britain. That’s why this raspberry gin from Warner’s is the perfect companion to whatever plans you have next weekend. You can even personalise the bottle for a present to your beloved, if you’re so inclined. No hints.

Warner’s Raspberry Gin, £36.00, is available in supermarkets nationwide.

Warner's Pink By Nature Gifting Set

If you’re looking for something small to accompany your flowers, their Pink by Nature gin set is only £12 and contains their Strawberry & Rose gin, which is truly delicious.

Pink by Nature gift set, £12,

While you’re at it…

rose lemonade prossecco

Valentine’s isn’t the day for subtlety. If you’re having a gin, mix it with Fentimans Rose Lemonade (aka, my favourite non-alcoholic drink ever) for a sweet pink twist. If you’re more of a bubbly person, use it to top up a glass of Prosecco. If you’ve decided to continue Dry January a little longer, have it on its own. They’ve now released a light version and its delightful, so no excuses.

For the true love of your life

The Red Dog Company dog mat

‘Am I your best friend?’ I ask, desperately (key word, there) trying to catch his eye over the head of his two beloved terriers. ‘Sure.’ He says. . Far be it from me to stand in the way of true love.

If you, too, are more enamoured by your pet than your amour, you’re not alone. The Red Dog Company’s dog mats are just the thing to keep your furry friend comfortable in their favourite spot, without the risk of them pulling out the stuffing of a bed or eating an entire wicker basket. It’s been done.

Mat from The Red Dog Company, from £95,

Hinting? Me? Never.

Wanderlust Gold Mini Heart Hoops, £35 by Emily Mortimer Jewellery, available at

These earrings are adorable. The perfect way to say ‘I love you. I’m sorry I didn’t take you to see Frozen II last year. I’m sorry I made you watch the Rugby last weekend then fell asleep 20 minutes in. You’re a brilliant journalist.’ Or any number of other, non-specific things.

Wanderlust Mini Heart Hoops in Silver and Gold, £35 by Emily Mortimer Jewellery, available at

Pop the bottle, not the question

Moët & Chandon are launching a Limited Edition Rosé Impérial

Okay, I think proposals on Valentine’s Day are cheesy. Do you know what’s not cheesy? Moët & Chandon’s Limited Edition Rosé Impérial. It’s very, very good. And pink.

Moët & Chandon Limited Edition Rosé Impérial, £47,

Ok Google, play Marvin Gaye

SRS-XB30R sony speaker

If you’ve ever balanced your phone in a mug with the volume on full, you know that there’s no replacement for a good speaker. Treat Yo’ Self this Valentine’s Day to that one thing you didn’t get for Christmas and do it properly – the SRS-XB30 can be expanded to include other speakers for a full-house party, has a Mega Bass boost function if the sound quality (which is fantastic, by the way) isn’t quite enough to drown out your tear- eh hem, shower.

The front display even creates a light show in time with your music and it’s splash-resistant. Seriously. Shower party time.

Sony SRS-XB30 Portable Wireless Speaker in red, £150,,

Best for… making your eyes go funny


Special thanks to Toby Keel for trying this one so I don’t look quite the budding alcoholic I usually do. 

Usually, drinks only make your vision swim after you’re some way down the bottle; this fruity gin liqueur gets to work before you even start drinking it. The pink liquid within is mixed with a sort of golden, silky liquid which squirms, quivers and spins through the bottle (once given a quick shake) like one of those storm simulator things at the Science Museum.

It’s terrific fun — but what of the taste? Pleasant, if a little sweet, and the colour trickery makes the liquid stick to the mouth slightly disconcertingly. The makers suggest it could be mixed with lemonade or bubbly, but we found that served on the rocks was just right.

For that little something extra


If gifts aren’t your Valentine’s style, you’re not alone. But if, unlike me, you’ve got a while until their next birthday (Valentine’s Day, both birthdays and our anniversary are all within two weeks of each other. What the hell.), then you may want to mark the occasion with a little something. These diffusers are creative, cute and smell phenomenal.

Best ’til last

Heart Truffle Box from Godiva

Look, Valentine’s Day isn’t Valentine’s Day without chocolates. That’s why I’ve sent this very pink, very girly heart-shaped box of truffles down to darkest Devon in the hopes that it’ll be opened in front of as many military men as possible. I can see his face now.

Truffle Heart Box, 22-piece, £30 from Godiva,

Happy Valentine’s Day. For the sake of my friends, colleagues and our readers, I’ll not to mess this one up.