Saint Snake Oil

Valentine’s Day. Whoopdie-do, right? Here’s a fun fact, did you know that Saint Valentine, all holy keeper of love and happy marriages, is also the patron saint of plague and epilepsy. I suppose that’s fitting, considering some past valentines whom I would liken to the plague and swear caused epilepsy. Unlike those miscreants, though, the Bishop of Terni (commonly cited as Santo Valentinus) was said to cure such ailments. Like bitters, I imagine. Saint Snake Oil! That has a ring to it…


For Saint Snake Oil, I set out to make love in a glass… a crush in a cruet… a flame in a flute! I considered what my tastebuds love: whiskey, strawberries, ginger, bitter things, meaty things, sweet things.


You’d have to be crazy to not love strawberries and balsamic, so that’s where we started. We used rye to begin, Cynar for the bittering and a dash of ginger syrup poured over some muddled strawlsamicberries. That didn’t work. First, it was too syrupy, and second, it was too much. Enter the roommates, “Mint and Effervescence!” Rye to bourbon, remove the ginger syrup, add mint and bubbly… o-kay. Hello, love!

two lovers standing tall

Saint Snake Oil

  • 1 strawberry, hulled and halved
  • 10 fresh mint leaves
  • ¼ tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • ¾ oz. high-proof bourbon
  • ½ oz. Cynar
  • Brut sparkling wine

Combine strawberry, mint and balsamic in tin and gently muddle. Add bourbon and Cynar, dry shake. Fill with ice, seal, and roll the tin gently. Double strain into a champagne flute and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a strawberry and mint sprig.

Two important notes: torn mint leaves release a bitter note, so when you husk the sprig and muddle, do it in a way that doesn’t tear the leaves. Next, cold muddled strawberry could be used as a caulk. Balsamic amplifies this. If you shake the mixture then you’ll spend half a year waiting for it all to strain out and even then you’ll lose half of it to its newfound, gelatinous form. Just tilt the tin back and forth a few times to slightly chill the mix.

muddled freshness

le overflow

I found this drink highly-likable – the roommates fell in love. It was deep: the effervescence carried the mint on the entry then deepened to strawberry, trailed by a hint of balsamic, and finishing in the bitter-herbal notes of the Cynar. The biggest issue was how quickly it disappeared (consider its abv). Like love, they say, this cocktail was fleeting. I say, it’s better to have loved and lost a cocktail so that you can just go make another one!


two lovers from below

2 responses to “Saint Snake Oil

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