Lovers drink wine all day and night and tear the veils of the mind. When drunk with love’s wine, body, heart and soul become one. – Rumi
WITH Valentine’s Day around the corner, my thoughts tend to drinks, wines and spirits that are often associated with romance and good times.
Pinks, reds and magentas are often related to the subject of passion, and I will touch on those that hold a soft spot in my liver (see below).
Impress your date with snazzy drinks:
* Absinthe: If you’re on the losing front this Valentine’s Day, there are comforts yet to be enjoyed or endured that may help to salve the woe of being a star-crossed paramour. If the soft scent of wine is not helping quickly enough, then might I suggest being subdued by the lullaby of the green fairy, commonly known as Absinthe. Historically outlawed for the perceived toxicity of the wormwood used to flavour it, or the badly produced alcohol that was its base, I feel this spirit has had a bad rap. Of course, how it’s consumed and in what quantity will affect the potency of the effect.
I enjoy 031 Distillery’s Ancestor Absinthe, which has a unique all-African botanical structure, so even the Artemisia is African. With a judicious dripping of iced water (louching) to separate the oily flavours, and diluting the alcohol to potable strength (down from a whopping 65%), a few of these are liable to ease the suffering of a jilted heartlover. If you have good connections, my favourite French absinthe is Lemercier Absinthe Amer. It has a meagre 72% alcohol.
They make a concoction called Green Giblet, with lemon juice, sugar and egg white, frothed up in a shaker with a healthy dose of either Canadian whisky or Caribbean aged rum. Serve it straight in a Martini glass or coupe, but be sure you are close to your bed when trying this out.
* Gin: Being the colossus trend at the moment, this drink must take a prime spot. For those who prefer the sweeter side of things, Beefeater have released Pink that is sweetened with strawberry flavours and will delight the lady of your eye. A a splash of cranberry juice with pink tonic and strawberries and cucumber will be a sure-fire hit. For a more sophisticated take, use Beefeater 24. It has exotic Sencha tea notes and citrus that adds a zesty finish.
* A more serious cocktail: For the more serious-minded cocktail acolyte, the use of subtle fruit textures may be sought after. Many moons ago, I used to sip on a fairly antiquated tipple called Chambord. My take on it for the erudite, use Marnier Cherry (nicely balanced cherry liqueur), a 5- or 10-year-old brandy (my choice would be Kaapzicht or Van Ryns) and present it over crushed ice with your choice of a fresh or glacéd cherry to garnish.
* Bubbles: Whether dining out or staying in, the libation that makes or breaks the moment is quite important. Those going top end will purchase sequestersome form of old world bubbles, Champagne, Sekt, Cava or Prosecco.
But don’t discount the width of South Africa’s excellent offerings, some of them surpassing the quality of the big house names. My favourite is the GM&Ahrens, a Franschhoek-made wine with the necessity of requiring at least four to five years of bottle ageing. The 2009 was magically pink hued, being the only vintage made with Pinot Noir dominance; and in 2016 was popped and duly supped with little hesitation.
A joint second choice is between Graham Beck Cuvée Clive, an ultra premium offering that marks true old world elegance in a new world medium, and then there’s ace winemaker John Loubser’s Cuvee Kappa Crucis, or the Jewel Box.
This is the heart of the Southern Star constellation.
Have a great February regardless, Durban… and until we meet again, stay sipping.
*Mo Therese is an ardent carouser and aficionado of all things bibulous, be it wine, beer and spirits. Having tended bars from an early age, his journey through the world of bars, hotels and restaurants led him to be ensconced comfortably at Café 1999 and Unity Bar in Musgrave. If offered a tequila, he will normally roll over and let you pet his belly. He sometimes blogs on TalkingToas