3 fun and festive cocktails for Valentine’s Day

It has been one hell of a week, especially with the so-called “drinking” holidays. First, there was the Super Bowl on Sunday and now Mardi Gras today. And while Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, I might suggest that you pull it together for one more day because Feb. 14 is also Valentine’s Day, and woe is whoever forgets Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is a portentous day to be sure, because if it doesn’t go well, things probably aren’t going to go well in general, if you know what I mean. But have we ever had those three events all in the same week? Jeez, you’d think someone would have looked at the calendar.

Sure, Valentine’s Day is a manufactured holiday, perhaps the most manufactured of all holidays. Based on several ancient saints (perhaps as many as four different religious people), the day came to be associated with courtly love in the Middle Ages, and still later came to be associated primarily with cards, chocolates and roses. One must mention here that “courtly love” is unrequited love, usually between a married lady and a knight — just an awkward point of fact for your consideration.

And yet, miss Valentine’s Day at your own peril. Never, ever believe your significant other if they say, “I don’t care about Valentine’s Day.” They do, and so do you. However, if you don’t want to be gouged on roses, or on chocolates, there is always booze. Nothing says “I love you” quite like a sexy cocktail. And thankfully, nobody raises the cost of booze for Valentine’s Day — at least not yet. So, pull off that red jersey, discard those plastic beads and get it together, it’s St. Valentine’s Day for goodness sake. And the four of them are counting on you.

To help out, I’ve taken the liberty of assembling some sexy fare for you and your honey, all localized, of course, for your consumption.


French Kiss

5 ounces Marimar Estate Blanc de Noirs sparkling wine

½ ounce Spirit Works Distillery Sloe gin

1 Tempus Fugit Spirits “candied” cherry

Carefully pour the sparkling wine into a chilled flute. Then drizzle in the Sloe gin, letting it sink to the bottom, creating a visible layer. Carefully add the cherry so as not to disturb layering.

Note: Sloes are a type of drupe (a stone fruit that is not a plum nor a berry) that tastes a lot like a cherry. Marimar Torres’ sparkling wine is a club wine only, but nothing demonstrates your love like joining a wine club just to get it!

Honeyed Passion Star Martini

1 ½ ounces Hanson of Sonoma Organic Mandarin Vodka

1 ½ ounces Perfect Purée of Napa Valley passionfruit concentrate

½ ounce Luxardo Triplum triple sec

¼ ounce fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon juice

2 ounces Heidrun Meadery Hawaiian Christmas Berry “dry” sparkling mead

Combine vodka, triple sec, lemon juice and passionfruit concentrate in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until ice cold and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Serve sparkling wine on the side in a small glass (pony).

Note: Originally called a “Pornstar” Martini, this drink was invented in 2002 by the owner of a London bar. The original uses sugar, vanilla vodka and passionfruit liqueur, making it almost unbearably sweet. The “pony” of Prosecco was there to “lighten” it up. Here we use triple sec and mandarin vodka instead and add a bit of richness by substituting dry mead for the Prosecco. Classy? You be the judge. Luxardo is imported by Hotaling & Co., formerly Anchor Distilling.

Naked and Famous

¾ ounce Santo Mezquila

¾ ounce Tempus Fugit Spirits Gran Classico Bitter

¾ ounce fresh-squeezed, fully ripe yellow lime juice

¾ ounce Yellow Chartreuse

1 yellow lime zest

Combine the first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until ice cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with lime zest.

Note: In the Naked and Famous’ original incarnation, the smoky mezcal and lime juice can be overpowering. We soften it up here by using the less smoky mezquila (by Marin local Sammy Hagar) and fully ripe limes for the juice. The Persian lime (the ones we all use) when fully ripe turns yellow like a lemon. At full ripeness, the juice is less acidic and almost sweet, and as such makes far better cocktails. Why we have been conditioned to eat unripe fruit is beyond me, especially when that fruit tastes so much better when it is ripe.