I wasn’t going to do anything for Valentine’s Day. Unlike some people, I don’t loathe it but I’m no fan either; why do you need a day to show how much you love someone? Cards generally suck and aren’t flowers good pretty much any day? So I had no plans until my friend Michelle came to me with the idea of a dinner party for Saturday. Despite not knowing who might already have plans, we decided to throw something together and see what might happen.

Invitations were sent out and we got seven guests; a perfect number for this kind of thing. Michelle was going to make salmon with lemon and capers and baked squash with carrots and walnuts, drizzled in maple syrup. For cocktails, we decided to make mimosas so I went out to the LCBO and picked up two sparkling wines: Hungaria Grande Cuvée Brut and Yellowglen Pink Rose. I’d never tried the Pink but I’d heard it was sweet and light and since I was juicing the oranges and grapefruit, I wanted two options depending on the flavor of the juices. If they were a bit more tart, the Pink would go well and if they were sweeter, the Hungaria would do just fine.

People were invited to bring a dish and any drinks they might want. Michelle and I also ended up buying a bottle of Absolut and Flor de Caña (a Nicaraguan 5 year old rum, currently only $23 at the LCBO!). I also had a bottle of Centennial lying around as well as beer and wine so I figured we were well-prepared.

After dinner, we broke out a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Brut (a very thoughtful guest had brought it) but didn’t mix it with the orange juice. I always like Veuve because it’s one of the few champagnes with a distinctive taste to my tongue. It’s so crisp and not too dry with a bit of tartness and hints of apple and citrus.

The last drop drained, we moved onto the Hungaria which held up pretty well considering what had come before it. The addition of the orange juice was nice but I wish it had been a bit sweeter. The grapefruit juice was far too bitter and I had to add some grenadine. We never got around to trying the Pink which was a shame because it might’ve worked better with the juice.

Before leaving for the night’s entertainment, I created a shot with some amazing maple syrup Michelle had picked up from a friend’s farm. The recipe goes as follows:

3 oz Centennial Rye
3/4 oz maple syrup
top up with green tea ginger ale

The syrup adds a complexity that complements the hints of green tea and ginger. The rye is smooth enough that it never overwhelms and the carbonation gives it a smooth finish.

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Replete and more than slightly drunk, we headed out to Man Men, an improv show playing at the Bad Dog Theatre that skewers Mad Men, the AMC show about an advertising company in the 60’s. It’s incredibly funny and if you’re looking for something to do on a Saturday, you could do far worse. It’s playing until the end of February so check it out if you get a chance.

Since the show ended at around eleven, we capped off the night by attending Shake a Tail, a retro rock ‘n’ roll night at Clinton’s Tavern. The bar has a great style,with log cabin walls and an excellent selection of beers on tap. The back area–where the party’s at–gets really sweaty but that’s how it should be; I don’t think I stopped dancing all night. It’s less esoteric than Goin’ Steady, Toronto’s other retro night, but while the songs are more well-known, there are no huge line-ups and the crowd’s a bit more varied.