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Toast Valentine's Day with a vintage twist

JUDI BOTTONI/AP PHOTO/FILEBartender Timothy Worall prepares a Sazerac cocktail at the Sazerac Bar in The Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans.
JUDI BOTTONI/AP PHOTO/FILEBartender Timothy Worall prepares a Sazerac cocktail at the Sazerac Bar in The Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans. AP

Valentine's Day may conjure up images of champagne, chocolate and a romantic dinner for two, but instead of enjoying the requisite glass of bubbly or a heady red wine this year, try toasting the occasion with a classic cocktail that never goes out of style.

For those who don't want to stray far from ingredients in modern cocktails, the French 75 is a perfect choice. Popularized in the early 1900s, it kicks champagne up a notch by adding gin, lemon juice and sugar, so take a page from Yvonne's book in "Casablanca" and impress your date by ordering the timeless French 75.

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Still occasionally found in today's mixed drinks, the ingredients that make vintage recipes uniquely flavorful are bitters -- concentrated extracts of herbs, roots, seeds and citrus. Vintage cocktails such as the Old Fashioned, Manhattan and Sazerac feature distinctive bitters that establish each drink's signature taste.

Learn to distinguish among the types of bitters by trying a Manhattan's combination of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters, or discover the complex flavors in a Sazerac's mix of sugar, Peychaud's bitters, rye or bourbon whiskey, absinthe and a lemon peel.

Of course, you could just indulge your inner 1960s executive and make Don Draper proud by choosing a classic Old Fashioned for its blend of sugar, bitters, whiskey and an orange twist.

Whether you prefer to revamp your drink order or forgo the alcohol and enjoy a day of hot tea and treats during the 86th annual Valentine Silver Tea from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday at 701 E. Scenic Drive in Pass Christian, cheers to unique Valentine's Day celebrations across the Coast.

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