Valentine's Day, ah, what a magical time of year. Everything is pink and mellow and full of gush and bluff. It's not really my thing. Of course, I'm going to celebrate, but it's more at home, making a good meal a bit. This is not going out, make a great demonstration of fantasy. There's no need to score internet points by being extremely extravagant in your grand gestures (especially if they're only booked one day a year). Let us fill all our hearts with love and joy while having a good drink, like Bitter Valentine.
The last time I made a big effort to go out on Valentine's Day, I decided that Alice and I should eat at one of our favorite restaurants in LA: The Foundry on Melrose. There is nothing we didn't like about this place, the food was amazing, the service was second to none, the grilled cheese was mind blowing, it is still the best burger I have ever had, the cocktails were at appointment, literally (thank you Policeman [there’s a story there too, but that’s another post]) everything was beautiful.
However, the downside to attending Big V is that it's still a set menu. I fully understand this as it is difficult to create a full menu when trying to turn the tables and get as many birds as possible. Still, the meal was good, but I knew I wanted to go back for the full experience - mainly because a few of my favorite dishes weren't on the menu.
Then they closed.
We never had that last meal there. Eric Greenspan is still one of the best chefs I have ever had the pleasure of meeting (he would walk by every table, chat a bit, make sure the food was good, then come back to run the kitchen), but had to shut down the Foundry before we had this last full meal was a bit bittersweet.
Maybe we'll just have to go get some grilled cheese instead.
In short, back to the beginning, the cocktail in question, the Bitter Valentine. I've been wanting to play with bitter flavors lately, so I grabbed a bottle of Amaro Lucano, took a sip and imagined some Valentine's Day flavors.
This is how I work my mysterious cocktail divination methods. The magic behind the drinks.
I had two thoughts, one that I ignored because I could explore this later and the second was the strawberry.
If you've never tried Amaro Lucano, it's earthy, bitter, and has unique botanical notes. One of the things it really works with is the strawberry. If you don't believe me, go take a sip and think for yourself. I'll wait.
After deciding to walk down Strawberry Lane, I must have been inspired by the overwhelming nature of spring (at least here in California where it hovers around 25C today) and figured a nice tequila would work out. wonder.
Now we were set with Amaro Lucano, tequila, strawberry liqueur and something. We needed something else to complement the flavors. That something else turned out to be lemon.
Mix them all together and you have a refreshing, slightly bitter, slightly sweet and infinitely tasty cocktail. Whether you love Big Teddy Bear Day or hate it, you'll enjoy a bitter Valentine's Day.
For everyone else, let's go to Bitter Valentine!
Bitter Valentine: A bitter tequila cocktail for Valentine's Day
Author: The drinks blog
Type of recipe: Drinks
- 1½ oz. Tequila
- 1 ounce Amaro Lucano
- ¾ oz. strawberry liqueur
- ¾ oz. lemon juice
- Glass type: martini
- Put all your alcoholic drinks and lemon juice in your shaker.
- Add ice.
- Shake to destroy the anger in your heart.
- Or to fill it.
- Whichever you choose, shake until it's good and cold.
- Pour and strain into your martini glass.
- I added the filter steps because you don't want chunks of ice.
- Unless you do, don't overexert yourself.
- Garnish with a strawberry.
- Now go get bitter.
- Or be happy.
- Either way, it's a hell of a good cocktail.
A little time put into preparation makes for an enjoyable evening. Drinking cocktails should be a fun and relaxing experience, so take a while to think about ingredients in advance, to avoid any rushing around last minute.
One of the foundations of many cocktails is sugar syrup. This can be prepared in advance. Here’s my tip for easy to prepare simple syrup : Add 200 gm white sugar to 200 ml boiling water. Stir till sugar is dissolved, and liquid is clear. Allow to cool then bottle
If you mix lemon juice 50 : 50 with simple syrup, you should have a solid mid-line sweet-sour balance. But remember, every palate is different. to find your own point of balance, mix 15ml fresh lemon juice with 15ml simple syrup, and then dilute the mix with up to 90ml water. Congratulations, you’ve just made fresh lemonade ! If this tastes too sweet or too sour, adjust by adding a little more citrus or syrup. Using this method of calibration, you can adjust any petit cocktail recipe to suit your own palate.
Ice is the single most over-looked ingredient at any home bar - you’ll be surprised how much you can go through. Cocktails need ice like baking needs ovens. If popping to the shops for ice isn’t an option right now, keeping a freezer bag topped up with ice will ensure you don’t run out unexpectedly. For best quality home-made ice, try using a silicone ice tray with a lid, to prevent your ice from absorbing unpleasant odours. And wash your ice tray after each use.
Where possible always go for de haute gamme spirits, the freshest herbs, and the best juices you can get your hands on. For instance, the taste difference between cheap juice and pressed juice is more than worth the small extra expense.
Try to use glassware appropriate to your drinks. It’s entirely possible to drink a martini from an old coffee mug, but that misses the point of drinking a martini !
If you can make a Whiskey Sour, you can make a Daiquiri. If you make a mean Negroni, you can riff on a Boulevardier. Once you’ve mastered the Manhattan, have some fun in Brooklyn on your way to Martinez. Cocktails exist in family trees. Once you are comfortable the basics of each category the world is your oyster !
You can pre-mix punches in advance - an old trick from the godfathers of bartending in the 19th century. You can bottle punch and store it in the fridge, ready to use on the day, or later that week. If done properly, quality and consistency are assured. If your punch has a fizzy ingredient, such as clairette, only add this your glass just before serving.
If you follow the Punch Ratio, you can’t go far wrong : 1 part sour ( citrus ) 2 parts sweet ( simple syrup ) 3 parts strong ( spirit ) 4 parts weak ( juices etc ) And don’t shy away from warm spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and mace, to make that punch really sing. Don’t have those spices to hand ? No problem, a few dashes of Angostura bitters will do the trick.
We all have a few unloved ingredients lying around that need using up. For instance, that last bit of red wine in the bottle ? Try drizzling it over your Whisky Sour, and voila, you’ve got yourself a delicious New York Sour ! Do you have some nice but neglected spice mix in the kitchen ? Try mixing a teaspoon or two into your simple syrup as it cools to give your next cocktail an added dimension. Seasonal fresh herbs make a wonderful aromatic cocktail garnish.
So now, you’ve hit your stride and you’re getting creative in your home bar. Great ! Our top tip for cocktail creation ? Write down the exact specifications as you are making it. It’s not always easy to perfectly recall the recipe for that killer cocktail the next day !
If all this sounds like a bit of a chore, then keep an eye open for delivery services available from many local cocktail bars. After all, with the finer things in life, it’s nice to sit back, relax and let the professionals do all the work.