5@5 - Bitter drinks for Valentine's Day
February 8th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Editor's Note: Jeff Faile is the bar manager of Fiola in Washington, D.C.

Before I was lucky enough to meet my wife and get out of the rat race otherwise known as the dating game, I dreaded Valentine’s Day. I hated being on the other side of the bar while all the happy couples celebrated their love, rubbing my face in it. Each February 14, I’ll admit it, I was bitter.

Looking back on it, there’s nothing wrong with it. To really appreciate finding “the one,” you have to experience the bad. So, let’s be bitter together.

Five Bitter Drinks for Valentine's Day

1. Aperol Spritz
Ok, so you’re not ready to jump into the world of bitterness with both feet. You’re still holding out hope to meet that special someone on Valentine’s Day. I recommend the Aperol Spritz. Aperol is the more accessible version of Campari (a very bitter Italian aperitif). While there’s still a slight hint of bitterness there, it’s a little more well-rounded. Pour yourself some Aperol over ice, add prosecco and top it off with a dash of club soda. It’s light in alcohol, pretty, and it gets your taste buds ready for something more bitter when Mr. or Mrs. Right doesn’t show up.

2. Negroni
The true classic bitter drink. This old Italian aperitif is traditionally done with gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. I love to do mine a little differently. There’s still gin and sweet vermouth, but I prefer Gran Classico in place of the Campari. If you’re lucky enough to find a bottle of it, switch it over in your Negroni and give your cocktail another level and depth of bitterness. You’ll be glad you did.

3. Nuovo Inizio
If you walk into my bar, ask me for this original. This is your link between your last gin drink and your first whiskey drink (Let’s face it, being bitter might include more than one cocktail!). The base is Ransom’s Old Tom Gin. This spirit has a malted barley base, but it’s combined with juniper and other botanicals to make it officially gin.

To make it even better, it is aged in used Pinot Noir barrels giving it more flavor. I combine it with the beautiful Bassano Amaro from the Nardini distillery, which has notes of orange and peppermint, Campari, Cointreau, and a few drops of orange bitters. It’s dark, it’s bitter, it’s you in a glass.

4. Boulevardier
You’ve hit your point of no return. Here’s your whiskey-based drink. This is for all intents and purposes a Negroni with whiskey. Even though people know the Negroni more than the Boulevardier, this whiskey based drink’s recipe was put into print 20 years prior to the Negroni. I prefer a rye whiskey in mine along with Campari and sweet vermouth (Cocchi di Torino sweet vermouth works extremely well here). This one is bitter with a kick!

5. Cynar
When you really want to be bitter, forget the cocktails. When it comes to being bitter, Cynar is tough to beat. This artichoke-based amaro fools you with a sweet start, and then it slaps you around with the bitter finish. When you get down to it, doesn’t that really sum up the person who left you by yourself on Valentine’s Day anyway? Take a shot of Cynar. You’ll be glad you did.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Bite • Cocktail Recipes • Holidays • Sip • Spirits • Think • Valentine's Day

soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. CoolCMo

    The best solution is the simplest: On Valentine's Day (and every other day, if you are smart) keep all your romantic entanglements with women on a strictly cash basis. Currency is so much better than bartering one's lifelong dignity and self respect for a few minutes of an awkward romp. And always remember, you are not paying for the sex; you are paying her to leave afterwards.

    February 12, 2014 at 10:57 pm |
    • rlj

      You only lose your dignity and self-respect if YOU do something wrong. If you are a decent guy, don't be afraid to find the woman you want.

      February 13, 2014 at 8:41 am |
  2. JC

    Hipster problems.

    February 12, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
  3. K10

    I've never heard of half the stuff he's using.
    Or the drinks, guess I'll just stick with my bottle of Fireball and my pint of Ben & Jerry's.

    February 12, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
  4. Ice King

    I don't know, Valentine's Day is the one day of year when I'd rather be single. With most women no matter what you do, or what gift you give them on Valentine's Day, it is wrong.

    February 12, 2014 at 11:28 am |
    • AleeD® @ Ice Kong

      Then you're, ahem, valentining the wrong women.

      February 12, 2014 at 12:19 pm |
  5. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Uhh. He, he.

    February 12, 2014 at 9:47 am |
  6. Blue

    Hahahaha, even the title is hilarious, but man, what was he thinking with that picture??? He looks pretty happy about it though...

    February 9, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  7. JoeBeer

    Death in the Afternoon
    1 shot of Absinthe (the real stuff made with Wormwood) poured into a Champaigne glass and topped with chilled Brut Champaigne. A few of these and you'll understand the name.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  8. Wastrel

    This is 55 drinks? Where are the other 50?

    February 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • The Help Desk™@Wastrel

      5 at 5.

      You see, the post is at 5:00 EST and it refers to 5 diffferent things based on a topic, usually relating to food, seeing as how this is a food blog and all.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
      • Dr. Freudianster

        There is an affliction of the eye that keeps the sufferer from seeing symbols. It is most commonly referred to as

        Ç@!ñt $33 $h!t

        February 12, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
    • czerendipity


      February 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  9. Carn E. Vore

    If you're alone on Valentine's Day, just go get a hooker and then drink whatever you want after you shower off the shame.

    And that picture? My brain hurts from having too many simultaneous jokes enter it at once.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • SilentBoy741

      I know, what is up with that? It's looks like he's describing what he's looking for with Mr. Right.

      February 12, 2014 at 11:54 am |
  10. c lo green

    What about Marriage On The Rocks?

    February 9, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  11. CN Red

    Oh goodness, # "4. Boulevardier" sounds fantastic! Thanks I'm gonna try that.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  12. Little Johnny

    That must have been one big trumpet he was playing.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  13. CJ_Wheels

    One snazzy alternative I love is a Negroni with 3-4 dashes of Fee's Chocolate bitters. Sinfully delicious.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  14. Truth you funny

    Truth-I am too, it is the funny picture of the day

    February 9, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  15. Truth™

    I am bursting with captions for that picture...:)

    February 8, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • AleeD® @ Turth™

      Must be hard to hold back for so long.

      February 12, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
      • JC

        Don't leave us hanging.

        February 12, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
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