February, as a rule, is a hard month to love. January, at least, has the benefit of being a FRESH NEW START to the year; we can, if we’re lucky, coast on hopes, and dreams, and the sugar high from Christmas, all the way through to the 31st. And then, the next morning, we wake, mentally done with winter and ready to see the sun again, keeping our eyes closed for a few blissful seconds of ignorance before opening them to find … February. Ugh.
It’s no coincidence that Groundhog Day is right at the beginning of February. If summer is a season of Sundays, February is a month of Februaries. TS Eliot had it wrong: April would only be the cruelest month if it arrived at your door dressed as a spring maiden only to rip off its mask and yell “surprise! April Fool, motherfucker! It’s February again!”.
But it’s not all bad. If you can make it exactly halfway through, to the month’s hump-day, so to speak, you’ll hit Valentine’s Day. (Any sensible editor would absolutely forbid me from using the phrase “hump-day”, but fortunately, this blog doesn’t have one.). We’re not teddy bears and roses kind of people, but we do like a colorful drink with zesty flavors. So that’s what we wanted to blog this year: a good, tasty Valentine’s Day cocktail that you can share with a loved one, or just make for yourself. (Because YOU, my blog-reading friend, are a loved one. Yes you are, and don’t you ever forget it.)
There’s not much going on in the ground here in the Northeast, but states closer to the equator time their bounty to provide us with the grapefruit, blood oranges and other assorted citrus we crave to ward off the inevitable scurvy and, more importantly, help us put together a colorful zesty drink. In fact, some* say that February is National Grapefruit Month (* the US Grapefruit Board. They say this.) which is huge, if true.
You’ve probably noticed that we LOVE cocktails with grapefruit, especially when paired with an herbal note. Our French Tart cocktail uses a rosemary syrup, which adds a little more sweetness to the combination. The star of this year’s Valentine’s Day cocktail, Roll in the Hay, is a little bit more bitter-forward (perfect for Valentine’s Day, right?), pairing the tart flavor of fresh Ruby Red grapefruit with mellow thyme and dry Rosé Champagne. The result is a drink that looks delicate, but packs enough flavor to keep everyone happy. Just to be clear: this isn’t a super-sweet drink, so if the citrus flavor is too rich for your blood, feel free to add more elderflower, superfine sugar or simple syrup.
You can use store-bought juice, but if you want to squeeze your own for a fresher experience, we recommend you double-strain it to make sure only the juice ends up in your drink. There’s nothing less romantic than spitting out a grapefruit pip. We complement the grapefruit with elderflower liqueur, a sprig of thyme and a topper of dry rosé champagne for a little fizz. The cocktail is vodka-based, but there’s no reason you couldn’t use a nice herbal gin if that’s your thing.
Cheers! Happy Valentine’s Day, nerdlings!
Roll in the Hay: A Valentine’s Day Cocktail
- 4 ounces vodka or gin
- 4 ounces pink Grapefruit juice freshly squeezed, if possible
- 1 1/2 ounces elderflower liqueur St. Germain
- 4 4 inch sprigs of fresh thyme
- Dry Rosé champagne for topping
- In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine vodka, grapefruit juice, elderflower, and 2 sprigs of thyme. Shake until very chilled, about 30 seconds and double strain (through a fine mesh strainer) into two coupe glasses. Top with rosé champagne. Garnish each drink with a sprig of thyme and a kiss.