Image courtesy of Alanna Taylor Tobin | The Bojon Gourmet

Planning on dazzling her with a homemade dinner this Valentine’s Day? We have the perfect drink and éntree combination to impress your special someone.

Begin by blowing her mind with your bartending skills to add a twist to your evening. You’ll also have the chance to show off your strength when you’re hand pressing the grapes and rosemary for this gin-based drink. With a dash of sugar and a splash of lemon juice, this cocktail enters the world of sophistication and maturity with a rosemary garnish.

Zinfandel Grape, Rosemary + Gin Crush

Image courtesy of Alanna Taylor Tobin | The Bojon Gourmet

Here’s what you’ll need for drinks for two:

1 cup Zinfandel grapes
2 loosely packed tablespoon rosemary needles
2 teaspoons sugar (organic blonde cane for sophistication)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed, strained lemon juice
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) chilled gin (St. George Terroir is a classic choice)
ice & sparkling water

Zinfandel grapes may be sweet and mild, however the piney notes of rosemary and juniper add a complexity to the drink, while a shot of lemon offers balance and sophistication.

If you don’t have the time to hunt for wine grapes, this drink is easily made with table grapes, but remember, red and green grapes are much sweeter than those used for making wine so forget the sugar and be more generous with the lemon.

With velvety-soft floral notes and tough skins and seeds, Zinfandel grapes add a touch of brilliance. Whether she’s sweet or zesty, adjust the sugar and lemon juice according to her taste. And don’t marry yourself to the amount of rosemary used in this recipe either, but if you’re after a mild woodsy taste, one loosely packed tablespoon of fairly long needles blends well with the gin.

Image courtesy of Alanna Taylor Tobin | The Bojon Gourmet

In a jar or cocktail shaker, combine the grapes, rosemary, and sugar. Use a muddling stick to mash the grapes to a pulp. Don’t be afraid to over-mash, the more your squish, the more color the grapes yield and the more flavor you’ll work out of the rosemary. After you’ve put on a good show for her, add the lemon juice and gin, respectively. You’re not finished yet! It might look like a mess, but it’s time to strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Continue to press the solids, like the grapes, lemon and rosemary to get as much flavor from them as possible. Serve this over ice with a splash of fizzy water if she doesn’t like her drinks too stiff or strain it into a chilled glass for something stronger.

If you think this drink’s flying solo, think again. She’ll be thoroughly impressed when you pair it perfectly with your homemade Pesto, Artichoke & Arugula Pizzettes. You might spend much of the night in the kitchen, but she’s worth a little extra work.

Pesto, Artichoke & Arugula Pizzettes

Bon Appetit-The Labor of Love4

Makes 2 small pizzettes

1 small ball of fresh whole wheat pizza dough, divided in half (or use two small pre-baked flatbreads)
Fresh basil pesto
Artichoke hearts, quartered
Grated parmigiano
1/2 – 3/4 of a ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly or torn into pieces
Basil leaves
Salt & cracked pepper
2 handfuls of fresh baby arugula

Preheat the oven according to your pizza dough (425F or so) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll out each ball of pizza dough with a floured rolling pin (as thin as you can get it). Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Spread a heaping spoonful of pesto on each pizzette. Top with artichokes and a good sprinkle of grated parmigiano. Dot with mozzarella pieces and arrange a few fresh basil leaves over top. Season with salt & cracked pepper.

Bake until the crust is golden, the cheese is bubbly and basil leaves are blackened slightly. Remove from the oven and scatter with fresh arugula as a finishing touch.

Now light some candles, queue the Barry White, drink responsibly and enjoy your hard work. But don’t forget dessert!

Photos & Recipe Courtesy of BojonGourmet.com