Created by Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope of Parks and Rec as a tribute to her close girlfriends, the equally important Galentine’s Day has moved from sitcom fiction to the ranks of those unofficial but important holidays that sprinkle the calendar with reasons to celebrate. It joins Valentine’s Day in mid-February as another day to brighten the gloom of midwinter.

Regardless of whether it’s for your sweetheart or your gal pals, making cocktails is a wonderful way to celebrate being together. These fabulous recipes are the perfect mid-winter tipples to help you toast your Valentines, not to mention your Galentines.

I love all things Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers. I am never without a bottle of their Rose Gin in my bar, and I have been a fan since forever. Their apothecary chic makes the bottles themselves beautiful objects in their own right. Constant innovations with liqueurs, spirits and bitters, in particular, make me excited to try each product they add to their line-up. Dillon’s tasting room in Beamsville also offers patrons a chance to try and to buy what they are working on, and, as a result, I now have a precious bottle of sumac bitters from my last visit.

galentine's day cocktails- dillons gin

Luckily, Dillon’s sent along these recipes, and, ever at your service, I have taken them for a test run. All of them are, of course, amazing. Cranberry Crush, with its zingy shrub, is bright and lively, with the black pepper providing a wonderful counterpoint to the tartness of the cranberry. The Rose Gin Negroni is a floral twist on a classic aperitif. Rosy hued in the spirit of the season, but with an undeniable kick befitting the twist on tradition.

Cranberry Crush

Fresh cranberries and whole black peppercorns that are used in the shrub offer a markedly well-balanced mix of spice and tart notes, which makes this cocktail taste like the most festive aspects of winter season. Replace the gin in this cocktail with vodka, and you’ll find yourself with a more neutral version, a craft vodka cranberry.

Cranberry and pepper shrub (makes 1 cup, enough for 8 cocktails)

½ cup filtered water

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 cup fresh cranberries

½ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup maple syrup or honey

For the cocktail

1 ounce Dillon’s Dry Gin 7

1 ounce cranberry and pepper shrub

2 dashes Dillon’s Cranberry Bitters

Handful of ice cubes, plus more for serving

2 ounces soda water

Fresh cranberries, for garnish

Black pepper, for garnish

1.           Make the cranberry and pepper shrub. Add the water and peppercorns to a medium pot, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to simmer. Add the cranberries and continue to simmer for 10 minutes, or until the cranberries are totally broken down and the liquid becomes bright red.

2.           Remove the pot from the heat and add the apple cider vinegar and maple syrup. Stir to combine all the ingredients and let cool until it comes to room temperature.

3.           Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into an airtight glass jar. The shrub will generally keep, covered in the refrigerator, for up to two weeks.

4.           Pour the gin, shrub, and bitters to a cocktail shaker or a large mason jar with lid. Adding the ice, shake vigorously for 10 to 15 seconds.

5.          Strain the cocktail into a rocks glasses filled with fresh ice and top with soda water, and, finally, garnish with fresh cranberries and black pepper.

galentine's day cocktails- dillons gin

Rose Gin Negroni

1 ounce Dillon’s Rose Gin

1 ounce Dillon’s Sweet Vermouth

1 ounce Aperitivo

2-3 dashes Dillon’s Ginger Bitters

Orange peel, for garnish

Dried rose petals, for garnish

1.           Add all of the ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir for 20 to 30 seconds.

2.           Place a large ice cube in your rocks glass and strain cocktail into the glass.

3.           Garnish with either a large orange peel or dried rose petals. Or both!

Check out their web site for many more delicious recipes and ideas.

Is it Getting Hot in Here or is it Just This Drink?

Relive that trip to Mexico, that happy Cinco de Mayo or even just that tasty Taco Tuesday with your bestie. Reminisce over the good times and, most importantly, make some fresh new ones with this quintessential cocktail. Cointreau’s citrus notes bring aromatic zestiness; add a salt rim and fresh lime for a classic and refreshing tonic, just like your friendship. Awww.

cointreau margarita

Game Day Margarita

1 ounce Cointreau

1.5 ounces your favourite Tequila

.75 ounce Fresh Lime Juice

Fresh lime wedge

Dried orange wheel, for garnish

Sea Salt for rim

1.           Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.

2.           Shake well until chilled and blended, about 20 seconds.

3.           Pour into a salt-rimmed coupette and, finally, garnish with fresh lime, and dried orange if desired.

And Cheers! Cheers, to love and to friendship and to damn good cocktails.

All images by Libby Roach.

Although the products above were given for free for consideration, all our views are genuine and authentic.