San Francisco: 6 Bitter Cocktails We Love

[Photographs: Wes Rowe, except where noted]

Let's get one thing straight: I am not a fan of Valentine's Day. Single, taken, it doesn't matter—it's a dumb holiday that greeting card companies and chick flicks have conspired to make us all feel like we've got to live up to some sort of cultural expectation that involves 1. tacky shows of affection 2. clashing color palettes.

That's not to say you can't have a good Valentine's Day—you can have a great one. I, personally, am a fan of combining totally un-date-friendly food, action movies, friends, and alcohol.

The alcohol part, especially. And no, I'm not talking about bottle-of-whiskey-in-the-bathtub-style V-Day drinking. I'm talking about cocktails, damn good ones, that you sip with friends, or your significant other, while you share stories and laughs.

But, because I'm a snarky girl with a love of the incongruous (see: Valentine's Day action movies), today strikes me as the perfect time to sample cocktails that make use of truly tasty bitter flavor combinations.

The base spirits vary, but in each of these drinks, amari, aperitif wines, and other bitter boozes lend a distinctly bitter—and complex—character to the cocktail. Well-blended and incredibly balanced, these drinks demonstrate the delicious power of well-used bitter ingredients.

People of the Bay Area: just say no to awful pink drinks and heart-shaped garnishes! Try these great six drinks instead—they even out the bitterness with hints of sweet and tanginess, and have undeniable depth.

Now that's a good representation of love. I'll toast to that with relish.