Tropical prohibition paradise the master mixers

By Johnis Dupuis

November 29, 2021

Valentine’s Day, ah, what a magical time of year. Everything is pink and fluffy and full of gushy and bleh. It’s not really my thing. Sure, I’ll celebrate, but it’s more an at-home, make a good meal kinda thing. It’s not go out, have a big showoff be fancy deal. There’s no need to score internet points by being extremely extravagant in your grand gestures (especially if they’re reserved for only one day a year). Let’s all fill our hearts with love and joy by having a nice drink, like the Bitter Valentine.

The last time I made a big effort to go out on Valentine’s Day, I decided Alice and I should eat at one of our favorite restaurants in LA: The Foundry on Melrose. There’s nothing we didn’t love about that place, the food was amazing, the service was second to none, the grilled cheese was mind blowing, it’s still the best burger I’ve ever had, the cocktails were on point, literally (thanks Bobby [there’s a story there too, but that’s another post]) everything was stupendous.

However, the downside of going on the big V day is that it’s always a set menu. I completely understand this as it’s difficult to knock out a full menu when you’re trying to turn tables and get in as many love birds as possible. Still, the meal was good, but I knew I wanted to go back for the full experience — mostly because a few of my favorites weren’t on the set menu.

Then they closed. We never did get that final meal there. Eric Greenspan is still one of the best chefs I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet (he would come by every table, chat a little, make sure food was good, then go back to ruling the kitchen), but having to shut down the Foundry before we got that final full meal was a little bittersweet.

Maybe we’ll just have to go get some grilled cheese instead. Anyway, back to the beginning, the cocktail in question, the Bitter Valentine. I’ve been wanting to play with bitter flavors recently, so I grabbed a bottle of Amaro Lucano, took a swig and imagined some Valentine flavors.

That’s how I work my mysterious cocktail divination ways. The magic behind the drinks. I had two thoughts, one I ignored because I might explore that later and the second was strawberry. If you’ve never tried Amaro Lucano, it’s earthy, bitter and has some unique botanical notes. One of the things that it really works with is strawberry. If you don’t believe me, go take a swig and consider for yourself. I’ll wait.

After deciding to go down Strawberry Lane, I must have been inspired by spring’s encroaching nature (at least here in California where it’s hovering around 77°F today) and figured a nice tequila would work famously. Now we were set with Amaro Lucano, tequila, strawberry liqueur and something. We needed something else in there to round out the flavors. That something else turned out to be lemon.

Mix those all together and you have yourself a refreshing, slightly bitter, slightly sweet, endlessly tasty cocktail. Whether you love the big day for teddy bears or hate it, you’ll enjoy the Bitter Valentine. For everyone else, let’s get to the Bitter Valentine!


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