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champmar3

I have seen recipes for champagne martinis that call for just vodka and sparkler. I have come across others (more than I would have guessed) that all swear by a spoonful of raspberry puree in the bottom of the glass, with some fizz and whatever else on top. And I have read that just bubbly and Cointreau is what constitutes a proper Champagne Martini — if “proper” is even a descriptor we can properly use when discussing a cocktail that bears, at best, a second-cousin resemblance to a proper-proper martini-martini.

My new favorite acronym is MINO — Martini in Name Only. It was, I will admit to you devout drinkers, a fact of life I had to swallow (straight, no chaser) when I agreed to author a cocktail book called The Big Book of Martinis for Moms. Clearly, not all 175+ recipes in the book are vodka- and or gin-based, for one thing. Believe you me, I did strive to make as many of the book’s recipes fall in line with a classic martini’s most hallowed guidelines. As it turns out, Mom does not live on vermouth alone.

champmar4

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I’m not the most romantic gal. I don’t need my drink to be pink just because it’s Valentine’s Day; a well-made Manhattan will always do just fine. (This was confirmed on Friday night, when my husband and I went out for an early V-Day round of rye perfect Manhattans at the original P.J. Clarke’s — specifically so we could gawk at this guy; the hubs has not stopped gushing about his “bartender mancrush” since.)

What I wanted to make for today’s cocktail was a concoction that simultaneously embraces and flouts every V-Day cliche on sale at Rite Aid: The pink, the chocolate, the faux-coyness, the girly-girlyness, etc. What I came up with is, in effect, a chocolate and blood orange Bellini. It’s quite palatable and easy-downing; it’s nothing too rough/jaded/forward but it’s still got complexity; and it’ll getcha toasted long before you realize just how toasted you are.

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