It wouldn’t be right to head into Valentine’s Day without a red cocktail to be still your beating heart. In good news, you won’t have to battle it out for an overpriced prix fixe table for two this year.
Plus, if you’re in a couple, you won’t be subjected to the pressure of performing romance in a roomful of other couples trying to turn on the intimacy for the occasion. Instead, celebrate Sunday night with the kind of organic intimacy that can only happen in the comfort of your own home.
Maybe that involves making dinner together while singing Celine Dion power ballads or building a pillow fort in the living room to watch your favourite true crime series. If you’re single, maybe it’s also those things or taking a long bath with your favourite book, cuddling with a pet, or having a Zoom date with friends.
When I want to treat myself, I buy a bouquet of fresh flowers from a local florist, make a delicious meal, and shake up a new cocktail or an old favourite.
The Roffignac is a classic cocktail that I’ve put my own twist on. Named after Count Louis Philippe Joseph de Roffignac, who served as mayor of New Orleans from 1820 to 1828 – this drink was a veritable institution in NOLA for many years. It was a signature drink at Maylie’s restaurant (opened in 1876) until 1986 when it closed.
When Maylie’s shuttered, the drink was nearly forgotten but the recipe has survived thanks to appearances in books like Stanley Clisby Arthur’s 1937 Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em. In which, the recipe calls for whiskey, sugar, soda and something called “red Hembarig”.
“What on earth is red Hembarig?” you may be wondering. According to New Orleans bartender Paul Gustings, it’s a raspberry shrub (a combination of raspberries and sugar which is muddled and macerated for a few days before adding vinegar).
I’ve provided a cheater version that doesn’t require the several days prep time needed to make a shrub and welcomes the addition of cinnamon for a spicier take on the classic – perfect for when you’re trying to spice things up for Valentine’s Day.
I hope you’ll give this twist on the classic a try this weekend – or whenever the mood strikes.
Add raspberries and cinnamon syrup to a cocktail shaker, muddle. Add brandy, rye, and red wine vinegar. Add ice and shake until well-chilled.
Double strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Top with soda water.
To garnish, thread a cocktail pick through one side of the lemon slice (near the peel), skewer a raspberry and slide it to the middle of the pick, and thread the pick through the other side of the lemon slice.
Remove cinnamon sticks and store syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three weeks.