“Not Sappy or Crappy” – Drink your way through Valentine’s Day
by Jenn Ward
It seems like every year around this time, a parade of pink and red, sticky sweet, innuendo-laden cocktails comes out. And every year I hope for better. Every year I’m disappointed. Not this year, especially after 2020. These cocktails are picked not only for their flavor but what meal they will go best with. No matter when you celebrate that day, or if you turn it into a week-long affair, there will be a drink for you.
Brunch/Breakfast In Bed: I love breakfast in bed. I am warm and comfortable, food is brought to me on a tray, and I feel so indulgent when it happens. While you could pair your BIB with a mimosa or a Kir Royal, I suggest either an Irish Coffee or an Espresso Martini . Coffee and breakfast go together like peanut butter and jelly, or you and your Valentine. If you don’t have an espresso maker at home, a good strong cold brew works just as well.
Low ABV Lunch Sippers: As 2020 drove us from the bars and restaurants that we love, we rediscovered our kitchens and our significant other also became our new office mate. If you plan on taking a longer lunch hour than normal, low alcohol quaffables are key. Try the Magic Hour or a Strawberry-Rose Spritzer to have next to your mid-day meal.
Aperitif: Afternoon snacks are great for Valentine’s day as something just a little different, but can be just as well thought out and received (Jarcuteries anyone?) Paired with mouthwatering aperitifs, this will ease you into a perfect evening. Adonis with its nutty flavors or Roman Holiday Cocktail with its hints of warming spice go perfectly with a spread of bites both savory and sweet.
Dinner: Ah, the main event. The thing many of us both look forward to and agonize over. No matter what you are serving, whether it’s a homemade dish or fancy takeout, a cocktail pairing will make it a meal to remember. And this is that one time I break from my “no funny names!” rule. Both the Between the Sheets or Hanky Panky are incredible pre-Prohibition cocktails that come with cheeky names but have deep, complex flavors that complement whatever they are next to.
Dessert: I’ll be the first to admit, I have a bit of a sweet tooth. That said, I’m more than happy to swap my solid dessert for liquid. If you are stuffed after dinner, then the Berry-Prosecco Ice Cream Floats or salted caramel martini are beautiful and easy swaps. Bonus, instead of a plate and utensils to clean up, you just have glasses!
A few quick tips, no matter what you are serving. For most cocktails, you can make them ahead of time and place them in a jar or swing-top bottle, and store them in the fridge. If you go this route, hold off on the toppings of cream or bubbles until the moment you serve your drinks. Also, your drinks can chill in the fridge for up to 24 hours ahead of time. If you plan on batching out several drinks, like a beloved Manhattan that you know you and your dearest will want more than one of each, grab a larger swing-top bottle, prep your drinks, pour into the bottle, chill in the fridge, and a bit before serving, place your bottle into an ice bucket on the table within easy reach, almost like good white wine. More staring into your Valentine’s eyes and enjoying their company, less getting up and playing bartender.