While the Grog Dog likes to indulge in a well themed cocktail for special occasions (Woodchuck Cider for Arbor Day?), there are certain holidays and events that encourage far too much indulgence in cutesy names, ingredients, and colors over flavor. Valentine’s Day is one of those.

Not that I have anything against a holiday celebrating romantic love, but I appreciate an understated sentiment.





For this Valentine’s Day, I’m recommending a few variations on a classic cocktail, La Vie Rose (roughly translated as, “life in rosy hues”). This lovely libation owes its subtle pink hue to Grenadine, a sweet/tart pomegranate bar syrup, but the other ingredients will make La Vie Rose your sentimental V-Day favorite.

Here are the original recipe and variations. To make any of these cocktails, measure ingredients into a shaker with ice, shake about 10 seconds, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist or cherry if you want to add a little flair.

La Vie Rose: The original is 1 part dry gin, 1 part kirschwasser (aka kirsch, a distillation of cherries), 1/2 part Grenadine, and 1/2 part lemon juice. This delicious classic is sweet but not overstated. Drink carefully, though – the smooth kirsch adds an extra kick!

La Vie Rose Parisienne: 1 part dry gin, 1/2 part kirschwasser, 1/2 part St-Germain, 1/2 part Grenadine, and 1/2 part lemon juice. This dials back the kirsch in favor of the herbal depth of St-Germain elderflower liqueur.

La Vie Rose Francaise: 1 part dry gin, 1/2 part kirschwasser, 1/2 part yellow Chartreuse, 1/2 part Grenadine, and 1/2 part lemon juice. In this variation, another famous French herbal liqueur lends a slightly different taste. If you’re feeling adventurous, use green Chartreuse instead of yellow; the green has a stronger herbal flavor.

La Vie Rose Americain: 1 part rye whiskey, 1/2 part kirschwasser, 1/2 part Grenadine, and 1/2 part lemon juice. The American version substitutes a barrel-aged spirit for the gin, which tends to disappear under the sweet syrup and liqueurs. (This makes La Vie Rose dangerous drinking!) The rye makes for a darker, slightly earthier drink.

If you’re thinking, “I know I’ve heard that name somewhere…”, you’re right! La Vie en Rose is the signature ballad of famed French chanteuse Edith Piaf. You can hear her sing her heart-aching version here.

Although La Vie Rose (the cocktail) has an entirely romantic pedigree – Paris, Piaf, a rosy blush, an intoxicating effect – it’s definitely not an in-your-face valentine covered in glitter. For more suggestions for drinks not to serve your loved one, check this slide show at Liquor.com.

Wishing you a happy heart this Valentine’s Day!