The Everyperson’s Guide to Valentine’s Drinking

I conceived this column as being an anti-Valentine guide to getting sauced. But from whence I pitched this to when I wrote it, I acquired a significant other. Bacchus willing, they’ll still be around when this is published. My desire to not write a vehement “this is for single folks only nyah nyah” column is either a sign that a) I’m self-centered and only care for the coupled because I now am or b) a sign that love makes one a more giving person wishing to spread happiness to the coupled and the not. So, beyond the solitary celebrator there are all sorts of scenarios I shall cater to. Valentine's Day with your cat or dog. Or fish. V-day with the love of your life. V-day when you wish you were with the love of your life but you broke up. Skyping because the love of your life is not with you. V-day with friends. Here ya go. The everyperson’s guide to Valentine Drinking. WAIT! What to drink while showering on Valentine’s? I actually fancy a solo tipple of Lillet Rosé poured into a cordial glass. It is pink. It is silky. It is sexy. And it is used in a cocktail to be savored alone. See directly below. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ NIGHT ALONE (WHETHER YOU ARE RECOVERING FROM A BREAKUP OR NOT) Make yourself a Guns n Rosé cocktail. You want the pink romance of Lillet Rosé with a touch of overproof whiskey annihilation and also…sometimes you really do need some time all alone in the Cold November (wait make that February) Rain. Because being single is crazy. Welcome to the Jungle, baby. Since you are all alone, you can really take your time to make this cocktail with care. All you need is a little patience. - Guns and Rosé adapted from the “Death and Co.: Modern Classic Cocktails by David Kaplan, Nick Fauchald and Alex Day • 1 ½ oz. bourbon (the book calls for Old Grand-Dad 114 Bourbon but I have made this with many a bourbon and had no problems. But overproof will get you wasted faster so pick your poison) • 1 oz. Lillet Rosé • 1 tsp. cane sugar syrup—here is where you need patience to heat and stir 2 parts cane sugar to 1 part water until dissolved. Make a big batch it will keep several weeks in the fridge • 2 dashes ‘house Peychaud’s bitters’ (Death and Co. has a recipe for a homemade version of this that blends 2 parts Peychaud's with 1 part Bitter Truth Creole Bitters, but I just used extra Peychaud’s) • 1 grapefruit twist Stir all ingredients except grapefruit twist over ice then strain into a rocks glass. Squeeze the twist over it to release the oil. The book says to discard it, but I hook it onto the side of the glass as an optional chew toy/garnish. You are all alone. No one cares if you gobble a fruit rind. WITH FRIENDS You need to either buy a magnum or so or make punch everyone can keep on ladling. Also? You could make a fine sangria. But I’d go with a magnum. Or three. Anything tasty in quantity. WITH PETS For yourself, open a Pet Nat. AKA a pétillant naturel . Swig and forgive my punnery. For your pet—well, if it is a cat, get a tin of salmon, it will be appropriately pink. For a dog, give them a bone so they leave you alone and you can go tend to your boner. Ps ladies have them too. Ahem. Pétillant naturel is wine bottled before the yeast has gobbled all the sugar. But presuming all the yeast does its work in-bottle you end up with light effervescence. Pet nats are tricky to nail but worth the payoff. Like pets. They require work but they will be your loyal loved one. WITH YOUR BEST FRIEND If you two have a favorite bar/beverage/activity you love to share, don’t let me stand in your way. But in the name of trying fun things together and in homage to the television series that, while problematic in many ways, is at its heart about the friendship of the four main characters—I’m talking about Sex in the City here—how about a Cosmo? But not just any Cosmo. The one I created. Because (I hope) we are friends. I give you The Bitter Cosmo (also good for a night alone). - The Bitter Cosmo • ½ oz. Campari • ½ oz. Cointreau • 1 ½ oz. citron vodka • 1 ½ oz. cranberry juice cocktail (or just the juice, it may take experimentation with brands to find you and your bestie’s fave) • 1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice • lime slice for garnish Shake the heck out of all but the garnish. If you have a big ice cube tray I implore you to shake with two-three big cubes for optimal dilution. But normal cubes suffice too. Strain (aggressively aka get a fine mesh strainer—you don’t want pulp in your Cosmo) into a chilled coupe or martini glass or whatever the heck you and your bestie want to cheers with. Friendships develop their own language and a part of that may be beverage tradition. Whatever your glass is, I recommend chilling it. SKYPE DATE I have a lot of people in my life who foolishly or perhaps brilliantly have settled in areas other than Los Angeles. And we like to Skype with drinks as though we were at a bar sharing a bottle to the point that we coordinate on cocktails, so it is even more like we are together. What you need is a cocktail that will work as either an aperitif for the person on West Coast time or a digestif/keep-the-night-going drink for the Easterly friend. So something that can be manipulated to be high or low proof. How about any variation of a Negroni? A traditional one is equal parts Campari, gin and sweet vermouth. If the West Coast buddy wants a lighter cocktail, use sparkling water or ginger ale instead of gin! Or if the East Coaster needs to be sloshed, they can use the traditional gin to feel headier. Or split the difference. Get a sparkling wine (has alcohol but less than gin) and virtually toast with a Negroni Sbagliato. -Negroni Sbagliato Equal parts: • Campari • Sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica or Dolin are my faves • Sparkling wine • Orange peel to garnish is you feel it but you don’t need it Build the drink in the glass. Virtually cheers but try not to spill. BLIND DATE This is really a theoretical category. Who goes on blind dates on Valentine’s Day? Masochists? Maybe. I have two approaches: 1) Get something dependable that won’t rock the boat any more than it has already been rocked by your wild decision to go on this date. This is the one time I’m recommending a vodka soda. Extra lime. Positive attitude. 2) Continue in the masochist vein with a ridiculously tannic wine. Go ahead, drink that Barolo too young. Rip your mouth apart. Cherish the sensation of self-torture that produces pleasure at the same time. WITH KIDS Okay presumably you are either babysitting or have kids. Hopefully this means there is some sort of fun chocolate dessert in your future. Pour the kids whatever sugary drink they want—this is holiday time! And if you still need booze, aim for something you can splash in your cup. Hot chocolate mix with a splash of Bailey’s or Amaretto, anyone? LOVE OF YOUR LIFE Secretly I’ve been living to share these romantically themed wines with you. Not only are they scrumptious, but they have labels that speak to love. Don’t worry I highly curated these aka—I ran into a lot of wines that didn’t live up to label. But these are MY picks. - Calon Segur A Bordeaux third growth that has a charming heart on the label. If that is out of your price range, try their ‘third wine’ aka made by Calon Segur but with grapes that didn’t make the top cut: Saint-Estèphe de Calon Ségur 2015 . All the pencil lead cigar box things. Still a smidge underripe? But it is a wine that a) has a charming heart on the bottle and b) demands a decent Valentine dinner. - Love You Bunches This is a carbonic maceration of Sangiovese by Stolpman. Made in Santa Barbara. I shared it with my significant other over a game of Exploding Kittens. It is sprightly—as in it doesn’t look effervescent but on the tongue speaks of pop rocks and macerated red berries of all sorts and regular rocks and (with air) grape Bubblicious omg. As my significant said several times: this is FUN wine. - Saint Amour Saint Amour is the most northerly of the Beaujolais crus--that is, the esteemed portion of Beaujolais that produces wines that hath nothing to do with such things such as Beaujolais Nouveau. The Gamay grape is used here, and pending the producers’ affections may or may not have undergone partial carbonic maceration, and may or may not have seen oak. It may (and will hopefully not be) bad. And there is your love right there in the name of the wine. All in all, just have fun this coming Thursday. Holidays are celebrating. Your loved ones and/or you. Raise a glass and feel the love. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: Classic Pairings for the Veggie Soul: Pairing Three Classic Pairings for the Veggie Soul: Pairing Two Classic Pairings for the Veggie Soul: Pairing One Old World vs. New World Round Four: Chenin Blanc! You can also listen to Ellen's podcast with Shaughn Buchholz, The Wine Situation here .