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 .

Stolpman Vineyards

"Love You Bunches" Carbonic Sangiovese 2018

2018. Fun fun fun wine. It’s good for a party or just a rousing game of Exploding Kittens. Carbonic macerated Sangiovese from California, friends! It is sprightly, light-bodied, acidic and tastes of pop rocks, raspberries, regular rocks and grape bubblicious. — 4 years ago

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Shawn Thompson

Shawn Thompson

Exploding Kittens is fun, likely more fun with that great wine!
Ellen Clifford

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@Trixie hmmmm I might just be tasting it for some writing about that;)
Ellen Clifford

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@Shawn Thompson it’s always a fun game. And definitely even better with a lively wine!

Clos du Joncuas

Gigondas Rosé Grenache Blend

Light brite. Bright and not ever so light! It has that Grenache hit that makes this fun and not just another white wine masquerading as a rosé as it is the salmon color that says it is serious. the lime, tangerine, shell, wetted (in your luxe shower) pumice stone and custard bits take me home. Literally and figuratively I’d come home to this wine. I’d take it home and bed it on the regular — 4 years ago

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Matt Perlman

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Wait they make rose? Must try. Love the rouge despite the label looking like Donald Trump’s powder room
Ellen Clifford

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@Matt Perlman hahaha it is very much powder room un-chic. I’ve had the rouge too, good stuff!

Château Calon-Ségur

saint-Estephe de Calon Ségur Red Bordeaux Blend 2015

Hopefully this is corrected as being saint-Estephe de Calon Ségur. Third wine of a third growth so if you are into threesomes this wine is your jam. Tasting notes—leads with cigar box/pencil lead/things that will only be better with age. For the price it’s perfect. And I like a nice heart. — 4 years ago

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Ellen Clifford

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@"Odedi" it was about 20 bucks!

Domaine de l'Olivette

Bandol Rosé Blend 2017

Peppy. This wine is almost too damn peppy but that’s only a downfall if you open it at one in the morn. It’s...okay I’ll be technical. Eye: rather pale pink hint o orange medium tears/legs. Sniff it and pink grapefruit, tangerine, wet rocks and seashells and a hint of mixed greens say hey. Sip: medium everything—acid alcohol (checked it is 13.5 almost high but not!) body intensity and the palate is equal to the nose except more minerally. With a hint more of herb and some flowers may be blossoming in there. Damn I am a fan of Bandol. It keeps you dancing. — 4 years ago

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Domaine de la Mordorée

La Dame Rousse Tavel Rosé Blend 2017

Tuesday night tastings going strong. I’m into this. It is so damn balanced and it changes and evolves n all that good stuff. Oh hell I’ll go WSET style:
Eye: clear medium salmon medium tears.
Nose: delicate intensity and smells like raspberries cranberries vanilla and some sort of green thing which is not a wset term but whatever it’s young
Tongue: dry, acid medium, alcohol medium plus? Checking...oh hell 14.5 so fuck yeah that’s big. Body is medium. Intensity of flavor medium and then you taste the things: peach Melba which is to say peach raspberry vanilla ice cream and then some stones n lavender. Finish medium plus I like it oodles.
— 4 years ago

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Ellen Clifford

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@Shawn Thompson thank you! Cheers:)
Robert Howey

Robert Howey

Ellen Clifford, you are main reason I still use Delectable. If you start writing elsewhere let us know where!
Ellen Clifford

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@Robert Howey thank you so much! Will do! I am starting to try to branch out so will let you know! also I usually post stuff I publish on my instagram account:)


Rosé Aperitif

This stuff is the stuff. Alone it is more viscous than wine and less than a syrup and it has flowers and lime and hot fuck I’ve bought many bottles over the last year or so. Bright sweet tangy and luxurious but also ready to go dance it is the friend who is always magically in the same mood as you. — 4 years ago

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