Even if you're not a big fan of bubbly, you can still raise a glass on Valentine's Day. These two cocktails will do the trick, whether you're snuggling with your sweetheart or gathering a group of friends for dinner, getting engaged or smashing a giant heart-shaped pinata with a baseball bat, Jennifer Garner-style.
Chocoholic's Choice: Averna Buena
Say Valentine's Day and our minds go straight to chocolate, but we prefer a cocktail with more dimensions than a candy box.
Enter the Averna Buena, a potent concoction that balances a few drops of Godiva chocolate liqueur with the amaro Averna and a hit of reposado tequila. Hints of herbs and mint, coffee and caramel wrap around the cocktail's chocolate core. It's silky but not heavy, and chocolaty but not too sweet—pretty seductive, we think. It's a spin on bartender Thomas Waugh's Hierba Buena, which was a finalist in the 2008 Averna cocktail competition. Waugh's drink includes a mint flavored whipped cream, but we skipped that in favor of a few dashes of orange bitters. After all, you'll want to save room for dessert.
Anti-Valentine's Day Cocktail: Eeyore's Requiem
If you sat around naming all the bitter ingredients in your liquor cabinet, you might come close to the formula for this Anti-Valentine's Day tipple. Eeyore's Requiem, invented by Toby Maloney of Chicago's Violet Hour, starts with Campari, then adds a dose of barrel-aged Fernet Branca, which is made with gentian, chamomile, bitter orange, myhrr, and saffron, among other things.
Not bitter enough for your cynical heart? Maloney takes your Fernet and your Campari and raises you a quarter ounce of artichoke-and-herb based Cynar. Take that, Valentine's day.
Despite all the intensely bitter ingredients, Maloney's cocktail comes together smooth and fragrant, pungent with citrus, herb, and menthol notes, but nowhere near as bitter-tasting as you'd think. While it's not a cocktail for beginners, Campari-lovers will appreciate the drink's impressive balance.