Denise Mickelsen created this dish as a romantic Valentine’s Day meal for Fine Cooking. In this recipe, steaming the lobsters with vodka, sugar, and salt gives the meat a subtle sweetness. The cooking liquid then becomes the base for a buttery dipping sauce.

1/2 cup Reyka vodka
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Kosher salt
2 whole live lobsters (1-3/4 lb. each)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, finely chopped (3 Tbs.)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 medium clove garlic, minced
Big pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon. tomato paste
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
Freshly ground black pepper

In a tall stockpot, bring 5 cups water, the vodka, sugar, and 1 tsp. salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, kill the lobsters.

Add the lobsters to the pot and steam, covered, until they’re bright red and a small leg easily pulls away from the body, about 10 minutes. Transfer the lobsters to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm.

Discard all but 2 cups of the lobster cooking liquid. Vigorously boil the remaining liquid in the stockpot, skimming off any foam, until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 9 minutes.

Heat the oil in an 8-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallot, thyme, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it darkens slightly, about 1 minute. Add the reduced cooking liquid, increase the heat to medium, and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and swirl in the butter, 1 Tbs. at a time, until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve the lobsters with the dipping sauce on the side.