Love is in the air, or so they say, with Valentine’s Day on the horizon. This is an ideal time to open that special bottle, which you have been saving. Or mix up a tasty cocktail, ideal for celebrating the holiday. Bonus, a few will carry over to February 22, which is National Margarita Day. Some selections were sent for editorial consideration.
Established seventy years ago, in the heart of premium Champagne, Palmer & Co. Rosé Réserve ($80) was created by seven grower-families with prized Premier Cru and Grand Cru vineyards in Montagne de Reims. The goal was to create something unique from limestone filled Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier vineyards. Balanced, refined and precise, with layers of red berry, vanilla, and spice, the wine highlights the essence of Champagne.
Focusing on single vineyard organically farmed Champagne, Leclerc Brant Brut Reserve Champagne ($74) ages ten months in French oak before two to three and a half years bottle aging, giving the fresh sparkler well-rounded richness, with hazelnut, white flowers, and lemon zest.
Classic, consistent and always delicious, Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut Champagne ($60) delivers a vibrant bubbly with texture and body, layering dried ginger, pear, and buttered biscuits.
J Vineyards and Winery Brut Rosé ($45), made from predominantly Russian River grown Pinot Noir, layers red apple, red berry, and cherry with wild violets and jasmine, and crème Brulee for a luscious, lively wine that lingers on the palate.
Smooth and fresh, Ruffino Prosecco DOC ($11) proves that you can drink quality sparkling wine, at a highly affordable price, every day. Opening with floral notes, leading to tangerine, lemon, and bitter orange, the approachable sparkler is also ideal as the base of a mimosa.
Traditionally made Italian Franciacorta blends classic Champagne varieties from sunshine filled vineyards located north of Milan. Barone Pizzini Rosé Franciacorta DOCG ($45) is juicy and fruit-forward. Produced from 80 percent Pinot Noir, 20 percent Chardonnay, the bubbly reveals notes of wild cherry, pomegranate, mandarin, and spice.
Made in the traditional method from Spain, Juve & Camps Pinot Noir Brut Rosé Cava ($17) reveals fresh flowers, cranberry and strawberry with a very dry palate, ideal for pairing with anything from poached or grilled salmon to strawberry mousse.
For spirits lovers, drink pink from Valentine’s Day to Margarita Day with these tequila-based cocktails.
1 1/2 oz. Tequila Don Julio Reposado
1 1/2 oz. Fresh Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
1/4 oz. Agave Syrup
10 Cilantro Leaves
Back Lava Salt
Preparation: Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain contents into a Highball glass rimmed with black lava salt over fresh ice. Garnish with cilantro.
2 oz.Tequila Don Julio Silver
2 oz. hibiscus tea
2 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
1 oz. fresh lime juice + 1/4 lime for rimming glasses
1 teaspoon agave syrup
Citrus Salt for rimming glass (combine finely chopped zest of 1/2 grapefruit and 1/2 lime with 2 tablespoons kosher salt)
Preparation: Run a lime wedge along the rim of your glass and dip in salt to cover, fill with ice. Combine the tequila, grapefruit and lime juice and agave in a cocktail shaker. Shake to combine and strain into the prepared margarita glass.
Smoke and Flowers
7.5 parts Montelobos Mezcal
2 1/5 parts St-Germain
5 parts Strawberry puree
3 ¾ parts lemon juice
2 1/5 parts simple syrup
Recipe makes five servings. Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and stir together vigorously. Add ice cubes when ready to serve. Garnish with strawberry and lemon slices.
If a seductive single malt or sexy cognac is more the style of your Valentine, consider Hillrock Estate Distillery’s Double Cask Rye ($99), a toasty, earthy hand-crafted scotch produced using three different estate grains revealing layers of vanilla and caramel with dried fig, plum, apricot and rye spice.
Or, for the cognac lover, Hennessey Master Blender’s Selection Nº3, the third in a series created to showcase the artistry and craftsmanship of the historic cognac house. Layering orange peel, toasted hazelnut, spiced pound cake and oak the refined spirit is ideal to end an evening of romance.