Visit a bar and meet someone. Go out on a date and enjoy yourselves. Have a couple rounds with your friends. Or–perhaps, alone at home. The options you have for celebrating Valentine’s Day are plentiful, and, should you opt to imbibe, the selection of drinks is far broader than the common choices from which most people select. Here are three classic short drink options for the cocktail aficionado, with names and flavor profiles aptly suited for differing situations and contexts (although you may choose to enjoy them all, regardless of whatever plans for your Valentine’s Day).
The Aviation – it’s the wind beneath your wings
Just getting to know this person? Want to have a few rounds this evening before dinner without feeling remorse? Best to try the Aviation, a light, floral drink with a lot of interesting flavors mingling together.
The history of the Aviation is a long one: originally listed by Hugo Ensslin in this book, Recipes for Mixed Drinks, published 1916, the cocktail called for crème de violette. However, over the years, other ingredients started being used instead, as crème de violette became increasingly difficult to find inside of the USA. Replacements included Parfait d’Amour, Crème Yvette or ultimately blue curacao, used to provide the drink’s characteristic blue hue. For reasons of taste of course, you will likely want to stick with crème de violette, using Parfait d’Amour or Crème Yvette only if you are seeking a cocktail with more citrus or vanilla driven tastes.
The drink is refreshing and light, works well as an aperitif, and also can help to freshen your breath, thanks to the lovely floral scent provided by the violette-based liqueurs. Classically, you would shake the drink (on account of the inclusion of the lemon juice), but if you want to experience the true aromatics in the gin, you can take your time stirring it in order to ensure adequate emulsion and dilution. Note that the precise ratios of this classic recipe are still highly debated, but as we at Styleforum don’t like our cocktails too sweet, we suggest the following:
- Eight parts dry gin
- One part maraschino liqueur
- Two parts lemon juice
- One part crème de violette
Combine the ingredients in a shaker tin over ice; shake the drink well; serve up in a chilled coupe. Garnish with a Marasca cherry.
The Bijou – or, I couldn’t afford anything from Tiffany and Co.
Just finishing dinner but you need something to relax you further? Or you want to provide a good-looking gem to someone without breaking the bank? Try the Bijou, an herbaceous and heavy cocktail.
Another classic drink, the contemporary Bijou originally appears in Harry Johnson’s Modern Bartender’s Manual (1900). The Bijou, meaning jewel in French, stands strong with a glorious amber hue that entices the imbiber with its smooth mouth feel and attractive appearance. Johnson’s version of the drink is incredibly complex on account of the use of two strong components with plenty of aromatics and layers of flavor (Italian vermouth and green Chartreuse).
The cocktail works better as a digestif, considering the strong body and alcohol content. Historically the drink was made with equal parts, but in the modern day you want to provide a bit less of a kick, so reducing chartreuse and vermouth help to bring the cocktail into the 21st century. Additionally, for this drink, Plymouth gin works wonders, seeing as how both green Chartreuse and Plymouth gin feature coriander, and the creamy body of the Plymouth can extend the already rich mouth feel of Chartreuse and sweet vermouth.
Stirring the cocktail works best, and if your significant other likes strong drinks, this will serve as an excellent nightcap to your most assuredly already enjoyable evening.
- Three parts Plymouth gin
- One part Italian (sweet) vermouth
- One part green Chartreuse
- 1 dash orange bitters
Combine the ingredients over ice in a mixing glass. Stir the drink to emulsify it well and provide adequate dilution. Strain and serve with a twist of lemon and a Marasca cherry as garnish.
The Widow’s Kiss – when this Holiday just doesn’t suit you
So your evening is spent alone, or you really just want to have a strong drink before bed. The Widow’s Kiss will serve you well.
Likely first published in George Kappeler’s Modern American Drinks (1895), the Widow’s Kiss is a drink that packs a punch on account of the three strong alcoholic components that make up the body of the drink. The drink has seen itself published identically in a few other cocktail guides, including Bill Boothby’s and Harry Craddock’s. As such, despite not being well known, the cocktail serves as a true classic, providing you an interesting drinking experience that is directly a blast from the past.
The Calvados can be replaced with Applejack if Calvados is not available in your area, seeing as how they are similar spirits with similar flavor profiles. Each is a distillate of cider, and both have a wonderful note reminiscent of fall, dead leaves and freshly plucked apples. On the other hand, the Benedictine and the Chartreuse are both historically created by monks, and include numerous herbs and spices that provide strong, memorable flavor profiles that are interesting enough to enjoy neat on their own. Each of these liqueurs have their own notes, but in harmony they begin to exhibit and complement each other, providing a more interesting drinking experience.
The cocktail is incredibly deep and complicated thanks to the herbaceous liqueurs, and the high ABV content of the drink serves well to keep you warm on a chilly night.
- Two part Calvados (or Applejack)
- One part yellow Chartreuse
- One part Benedictine
- Two dashes Angostura bitters
Pour the ingredients together over cracked cubes of ice in a mixing glass. Stir well, ensuring the drink reaches adequate dilution. Strain, serve up and garnish with a Marasca cherry.
Enjoy your Valentine’s Day, whichever stylish way you imbibe.
e. v. Empey