Tag Archives: valentine’s day

beet, berry + blood orange granita | a sparkling galentine’s day cocktail

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and that might make you either cringe or just shrug your shoulders or maybe even break out your dancing shoes. I tend to simply shrug my shoulders; the holiday could pass on by, and I’d still be happy. Meh. If some flowers or a card or some cookies come my way, however, I think could be persuaded to celebrate Valentine’s Day and even don a little pink.

I recently developed a Galentine’s Day cocktail for the Kitchn {I’ll share the link, when it’s up}, and in the midst of doing my recipe testing and researching, I really gained an appreciation for the concept behind the celebration. I’d heard about the holiday before, which is 180 degrees away from its cupid-themed counterpart {no pressure or hefty price tags, more waffles and dancing}, and I’ve even used the salutation casually in a sentence, but that’s where it stopped. I didn’t really participate.

The holiday, which is officially celebrated on February 13th, is all about showing your love, support, and enthusiasm for the WOMEN in your life. It’s not a time to bash your ex or gossip about the girl who sits next to you at work. It’s a day dedicated to making time for your girlfriends, your lady coworkers, your moms, and your sisters. It actually succeeds in making you feel and share what the other holiday, oftentimes unsuccessfully, attempts to make you feel:


And a solid Galentine’s Day party isn’t complete without a festive cocktail.

I’m sharing a healthy-ish cocktail with you that’s easy to make ahead and doesn’t require a ton of expensive spirits. It’s low-key and high-reward. I’ve added roasted beets, ripe blood oranges, and sweet berries together for a slightly sweet granita that pairs perfectly with dry sparkling wine. I’ve even added one of my favorite spirits to bring a balanced-but-bitter bite to the mix: Campari. Continue reading

a little hanky panky | gin + blood orange + fernet-branca cocktail

Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is upon us. My boyfriend and I don’t really celebrate the holiday. We figure it’s one of those made-up holidays to make you spend money, feel guilty if you don’t participate, and think something’s wrong with you, if you don’t get anything. Plus, I usually have to work at the restaurant on the 14th, so it never feels really romantic anyway.

My mom, however, is my biggest Valentine to date. On Valentine’s Day, when I was growing up, she would always wake me with pretty hearts filled with chocolates, occasionally with bouquets of flowers, and always with a big hug and a warm smile. Back in high school, I actually never received a Valentine’s Day gift from a guy, so I kind of took a bitter stance on the holiday, despite the generosity of my sweet mom.

I figured I’d make a bittersweet cocktail to celebrate. Something that has a bright, slightly sweet finish, with a feisty, little bite, provided by a dash or two of Fernet-Branca. This is a perfect mid-winter cocktail, appealing to Manhattan-lovers and those with a penchant for all things savory. And celebrating with a cocktail is something we can all agree upon.

blood orange + fernet cocktail | holly & flora

I have a limited, on-again-off-again relationship with Fernet-Branca. A little goes a long way, and if I overdo it, I’ll hide the bottle for a month or so. It eventually makes its way back into my life. This bitter Italian amaro is not for the faint at heart. Its aroma is laced with minty overtones; a hefty dose of bitter, herbal notes; and deep, rich spices. It has quite the strong personality.

I first learned of Fernet-Branca, when I worked behind the bar in a small Italian restaurant several years ago. The waitstaff would take a shot of the stuff together at the end of a shift, whether it was good or bad. I’d quickly down my small portion, and I’d end up making the most hideous face. Let’s just say that Fernet and I didn’t really start out on the right foot.

It was only when I visited Italy that I gave Fernet another chance at being delicious. One morning, after a rather intense evening of wine-tasting, I wandered down the cobbled streets in Alba to a small coffee shop. I must have looked kind of tired {hungover?} because the gentleman behind the bar raised his brows and asked me, “Caffè corretto con Fernet?” My friend assured me that “yes” was the right answer. I was handed an espresso with a shot of Fernet, I took a small sip, and I immediately felt a little better.

Fernet was growing on me.

blood orange + fernet cocktail | holly & flora blood orange + fernet cocktail | holly & flora blood orange + fernet cocktail | holly & flora

Fernet, in fact, is categorized as a digestivo, a bitter, stomach-settling liqueur consumed at the end of a meal. I had many a caffè corretto on that trip, and since then, I’ve enjoyed Fernet after many a heavy meal. If the intensity is too much for you on its own, try adding a little into an espresso or a dash of it into a cocktail, like this one.

One of my favorite cocktails that incorporates Fernet-Branca is a classic cocktail, the Hanky-Panky, invented by famed female bartender, Ada Coleman, in the early 20th century. Her original recipe calls for 1 1/2 ounces of dry gin, 1 1/2 ounces of sweet vermouth, and one bar spoon of Fernet. I put a little twist on this bitter-sweet martini by adding seasonally available blood oranges and a touch of orange bitters.

I’m pretty partial to my rendition.

the $10 greeting card | a twist on the hanky-panky

  1. Juice the blood orange{s}.
  2. In a cocktail mixing glass filled with ice, add the gin, sweet vermouth, blood orange juice, Fernet-Branca, and orange bitters.
  3. Stir for about one minute.
  4. Strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass.
  5. Garnish with an orange peel.

blood orange + fernet cocktail | holly & flora blood orange + fernet cocktail | holly & flora blood orange + fernet cocktail | holly & floraBack to the topic of bitterness, I’m pretty bitter that I didn’t even get to take a sip of these drinks, when I photographed them. Along with committing to running a half-marathon in May, I also gave up alcohol and refined sugar until my birthday in mid-March. It makes my job rather tricky with the whole wine-tasting thing and all. I just might have to sneak a little bubbles tonight. We have almost 600 {as. in. people.} reservations this evening. I am thinking I’ll need a nightcap.

Or two.

Well, happy Valentine’s Day to its lovers and its haters! I’m curious – do you have a favorite cocktail that incorporates Fernet-Branca? What are you planning on sipping this evening? I am a lot of talk, but I’ll most likely behave and have some sparkling water with a splash of one of the shrubs I’ve been making – probably the blood orange shrub. More on that project later!



PS – Mad props to Andy of Liquorary for scouting out the amazing vintage Libby coupes I used in these photos! I have been coupe-less for several years, and they arrived just in time for this shoot. Check out his Etsy shop, as its barware contents change all the time. He also makes some pretty neat cocktails every Friday over at Oh So Beautiful Paper.

For now, yay for new glassware!!

blood orange + fernet cocktail | holly & flora blood orange + fernet cocktail | holly & flora