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A Valentine’s Day Martini From Mixologist Michael Skinkle-Hill

Michael Skinkle-Hill

January 30, 2015 – By all accounts, the cocktail craze has been fueled by millennials drinking flavored vodkas, so it was interesting to hear from Michael Skinkle-Hill of Charlie’s Café in Elmira, N.Y., that his clientele of slightly older professionals are just as adventurous when it comes to trying new cocktails.

Michael has been tending the bar at Charlie’s for about six years and he delights in creating signature drinks for major occasions or for no reason at all.  And his steady customers of business professionals, doctors, lawyers and law enforcement are up for anything new.  Charlie’s Café is a white tablecloth restaurant that serves a lot of wine for dinner but at the bar, spirits rule.  Beer is a distant third place.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we asked if he had a special drink to mark the occasion.  He has several, the Chocolate Strawberry Martini being one of his favorites.  At Charlie’s, Michael serves a lot of martinis, so many in fact that his drink menu features 10 Reasons to Drink Martinis.  Sounds like the patrons take it seriously!  Cosmopolitans are another favorite and he shared his recipe for a Grape Cosmo below, as well as his take on a New York Sour.

His signature drink is a Sheatini named for his friend Steve Shea who concocted it originally.  It is a combination of Tanqueray Rangpour gin, which is lime flavored, coconut lemon grass sake, and sour mix.  We couldn’t wheedle the exact recipe out of him so we’ll just have to drop by Charlie’s Café the next time we’re in Elmira.


Chocolate Strawberry MartiniValentine’s Chocolate Strawberry Martini

1.5 oz. vodka

1.5 oz. strawberry liqueur (Hiram Walker or Llord’s)

3 oz. Godiva chocolate liqueur

Shake with hard ice and strain into a martini glass.  Garnish with a chocolate dipped strawberry.


Grape Cosmo

Grape Cosmo2.5 oz. Three Olives purple grape vodka

1 oz. Cointreau

3 oz. cranberry juice

1 lime quarter squeezed

Shake with hard ice until the outside of the shaker is frosty about 30 seconds.  Strain into a martini glass and garnish with three grapes on a bamboo stick.

This recipe adapts well to make punch.  Increase the cranberry juice to taste and stir with ice.


New York Sour

1.5 to 2 oz. whiskey (bourbon preferable)

4 oz. sour mix

Shake until shaker is frosty.  Strain over ice into a Tom Collins glass and top with Pinot Noir.  (An inexpensive Pinot Noir works well!)