Ooh la la? Oh la yuck. Valentine’s Day is a day for loving food, whether creamy chocolate hearts or succulent oysters on the shell. It’s for getting cozy with rich-tasting pasta. That is, if you’re celebrating it with somebody.
For singles, February 14th is a black hole of a day, where everybody seems to have a date and champagne flutes while you dress in black and roll your eyes at greeting cards and secretly want to pop every shiny mylar balloon. Or maybe not. Either way, here are two personally developed cocktail recipes for the single-and-bitter-about-it on Valentine’s Day. Both utilize a homemade version of Campari, a classic Italian apertif that’s far too expensive to afford on a single’s budget. My DIY version (a more grapefruit-heavy adaptation of the Lee Bros. Purple Jesus Punch) adds a bitter backbone to both recipes.
Each drink has a recommended romantic comedy pairing, available on Netflix. Invite another single-and-bitter-about-it friend over and enjoy these with delivery Chinese food, knowing that you’re beating the crowds, imposed traditions, and the plans to be romantic.
New York Times writer Jonathan Miles said negronis are like having an ex-lover slap you in the face. With a poetic (and apt) description and complex flavors, this gin-based cocktail is perfect for milling over a recent breakup while plotting how to win the next heart. Take out the gin and add 2 ounces of club soda to make an Americano.
1 oz. gin
1 oz. Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth
1 oz. DIY Campari (recipe follows)
1 slice of navel orange for garnish
Combine first three ingredients in a lowball glass with ice. Stir to combine.
Recommended Netflix Rom-Com pairing: The Rebound
You Win Rum, You Lose Some
With the addition of pineapple juice and Malibu coconut rum, this sweet/sour/bitter concoction has the fruity flavor of a piña colada without the heavy dairy feeling or the sugar rush. Less face-slappingly bitter than the negroni, this is a sweet fling on spring break.
1 oz. Malibu coconut rum
1 oz. DIY Campari
1 oz. pineapple juice
1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
3 dashes Regan’s Orange bitters
slices of navel orange and grapefruit, for garnish
splash of club soda
In a cocktail shaker, combine Malibu, DIY Campari, pineapple and grapefruit juices, simple syrup, and bitters. Shake with the aggression you feel towards members of the opposite (or same) sex. Strain into a lowball with ice, garnish with citrus slices, and top off with splash of soda.
1 750 mL bottle vodka (I used SVEDKA)
3/4 lb black cherries
12 oz. blackberries, rinsed
1 very large navel orange
Stem and pit cherries, then slice each in half. Place into a large carafe or pitcher, along with blackberries. Leaving on the pith and peel, cut grapefruits and orange into slices. Place into carafe. Pour over vodka and steep for a full 48 hours in refrigerator. Strain out vodka into a new, clean carafe, and keep refrigerated.
Recommended Netflix Rom-Com pairing: 13 Going on 30
All photos by Tommy Werner