February 14: St. Valentine

StValentineToday is the feast day of Saint Valentine. Now, as with many saints, the story of Valentine is a mix of historical fact and myth. Here’s what we know to be true: On February 14 in the year 269, 270, or 273, a Roman bishop named Valentinus was martyred –and that’s all we’ve got in terms of facts.

As for the myth? Well, the story goes that Valentinus was a bishop who had taken the Christian faith and was secretly marrying Christian couples. As aiding Christians was against Roman law, Valentinus was arrested and imprisoned. Emperor Claudius II was intrigued by the young cleric and decided to meet with Valentinus and said he would spare his life if he would swear allegiance to Roman paganism. Instead, Valentinus attempted to convert Claudius to Christianity; obviously, there was that didn’t work out too well.

Thus Valentinus was sent back to prison to be tortured and eventually beheaded. While imprisoned, Valentinus developed a fondness for his jailer’s blind daughter. According to some variations on the Saint Valentine story, the first miracle the future saint performed was curing the poor girl of her blindness which inspired the jailer to convert himself and his entire household to Christianity. One other popular story about Valentinus began appearing in the mid-13th century: Allegedly, just before he was beheaded, Valentinus wrote a love letter to the jailer’s daughter which he signed “Your Valentine.”

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, let’s get into the holiday spirit with a vaguely risque cocktail. Between The Sheets is a more potent take on the Sidecar that was created sometime during Prohibition. You can definitely tell that it’s a Prohibition drink as this (surprisingly delicious) drink’s mix of brandy, rum and Cointreau reeks of a bartender just mixing whatever was on hand at the time.

Between The Sheets

  • 1 ounce White Rum
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 ounce Brandy

Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Tomorrow: We salute a flag.

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