One particularly hot 4th of July, I called my friend Joshua and suggested that we pack up our four collective children and drive 20 miles south to a museum in Carson, California, where there would be a reenactment of the reading of the Declaration of Independence.
“That sounds like a nice idea,” Joshua said, diplomatically, “but I have a really nice bottle of rosé, and we could sit by the pool while the kids swim, and drink it instead.” Now that’s what you call friendship.
Joshua keeps a pretty full bar, and recently he and his wife found themselves with a surplus of Champagne, left over from a holiday party. We wondered about what to do with it, if there was perhaps an easy cocktail in the offing. I came across the Flirtini, and, with a quart of orange juice in hand, headed to Joshua and Jennifer’s house for a Thursday night experiment.
The first thing we did was change the Flirtini recipe from a pitcher to individual cocktails, and, lacking raspberry vodka, substituted a dash of crème de cassis in our shaker to compensate. So I guess I should come clean and say that this really isn't a Flirtini anymore, but Flirtini adjacent.
What you have in this drink, cocktail lovers, is a mad mouth of pineapple, followed by a strong alcohol finish. It’s the kind of drink that guys used to buy at the Cheek to Cheek saloon, where I worked in my youth, for the gals who had used nail polish remover to erase the giant X from their hands, placed there by a bouncer to mark them as under-aged.
We didn’t hate the drink at all. But we wondered about some revisions. In truth, the pineapple juice was overwhelming. So we added a bit more Champagne to the glass, transforming the drink into basically a screwdriver in a cute little skirt.
Then suddenly, things took a radical turn. What ensued was a three-cocktail taste test, beginning with a drink with reduced pineapple, again, and a dash of Campari (vaguely disgusting); moving on to something that removed the vodka all together, replacing it with bourbon, which really is not what Catherinejagers had in mind for any of us; last, hitting upon a twist on this cocktail that I think was nearly perfect.
For your shaker, that is 2 ounces of orange juice, 1 ounce of pineapple, 2 ounces of vodka, 2 ounces of Champagne, an ounce of St Germain and half an ounce of crème de cassis.
St. Germain, should you wonder, is a liquor fashioned from Alpine elderflowers and apparently is all the rage these days among the knowing home mixologists. Its delicate, lychee flavor in completely beguiling and I think you should ask someone who was thinking of buying you some nice chocolate for Valentine’s Day to get you this instead. If they take this sort of direction, and make you a nice cocktail with this new find, you should probably go ahead and get engaged immediately.
So anyway, if you had a raspberry to top this revised cocktail, it would be a nice touch. Or you can make the original recipe, but go lighter on the pineapple juice. And if you have two, please make sure someone else is watching the kids.
Mix equal parts champagne, vodka (raspberry vodka, if you're feeling fancy) orange juice, pineapple juice. Chill and imbibe.
2 ounces orange juice
1 ounce pinapple juice
2 ounces vodka
2 ounces Champagne
1 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1/2 ounce creme de cassis
Fill a shaker with ice. Add all the ingredients. Shake the drink, then strain into a chilled martini glass.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).