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Bubbles and a Kick

Elegant, boldly flavored cocktails to usher in the new year.

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Adam Ried
December 30, 2007

Like good cocktail-party conversation, champagne cocktails should be debonair, stylish, multidimensional - and end with a little kick. So instead of drowning sparkling wine with juice or turning it into a loud, neon-hued brew, choose simple, strong, complementary flavors, be they traditional or a little less so.

A couple of pointers will help these cocktails, well, sparkle. First, save good the stuff. Sip vintage champagne solo, or if you must mix it, do so in a classic champagne cocktail where you can appreciate its flavor. For the other recipes here, more modestly priced brut (dry) sparklers, like Italian prosecco, serve admirably. Once you've settled on your wine, chill it in the refrigerator for at least two hours before drinking. If you think of it, chill the flutes, too. Add flavorings to the glass first and the bubbly last, so its effervescence can encourage blending. And when you pour the bubbly, minimize foam by tilting the glass and pouring small amounts at a time.

Most important of all, raise your elegantly flavored, expertly executed sparkling cocktail to a year of good health, peace, and time spent with people you love and admire. Sante!

CLASSIC CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL
SERVES 4

4 sugar cubes
Bitters, such as Angostura
Chilled champagne or other sparkling wine
4 strips lemon peel

In each of 4 champagne flutes, place a sugar cube. Sprinkle each cube with 3 to 4 drops of bitters, then slowly top with champagne until the flutes are almost full. Run a strip of lemon peel around the rim of each glass, twist the peel over the wine, then drop it into the flute. Serve at once.

KIR ROYALE
SERVES 4

4 tablespoons creme de cassis
Chilled prosecco or other sparkling wine

Into each of 4 champagne flutes, pour 1 tablespoon of creme de cassis, then slowly top with sparkling wine until the flutes are almost full. Serve at once.

CHAMPEAR
SERVES 4

4 sugar cubes
2 tablespoons Poire William
Chilled prosecco or other sparkling wine

In each of 4 champagne flutes, place 1 sugar cube. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons Poire William and swirl to begin dissolving the sugar. Slowly top with sparkling wine until the flutes are almost full. Serve at once.

JAMES BOND
SERVES 4

4 sugar cubes
Bitters, such as Angostura
2 tablespoons Lillet Blanc
4 tablespoons vodka
Chilled prosecco or other sparkling wine
4 strips lemon peel

In each of 4 champagne flutes, place a sugar cube. Sprinkle each cube with 3 to 4 drops of bitters, then add 1 1/2 teaspoons of Lillet and 1 tablespoon of vodka and swirl to begin dissolving the sugar. Slowly top with sparkling wine until the flutes are almost full. Run a strip of lemon peel around the rim of each glass, twist the peel over the drink, then drop it into the flute. Serve at once.

D'ARTAGNAN
SERVES 4

4 sugar cubes
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or other orange-flavored liqueur
2 tablespoons cognac or other brandy
Chilled prosecco or other sparkling wine
4 strips orange peel

In each of 4 champagne flutes, place a sugar cube. To each flute add 1 teaspoon of orange liqueur and 1 1/2 teaspoons of cognac or other brandy and swirl to begin dissolving the sugar. Slowly top with sparkling wine until the flutes are almost full. Run a strip of orange peel around the rim of each glass, twist the peel over the drink, then drop it into the flute. Serve at once.

FRENCH 75
SERVES 4

4 sugar cubes
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
8 tablespoons gin
Chilled prosecco or other sparkling wine
4 strips orange peel

In each of 4 champagne flutes, place a sugar cube. To each glass add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of gin and swirl to begin dissolving the sugar. Slowly top with sparkling wine until the flutes are almost full. Run a strip of orange peel around the rim of each glass, twist the peel over the drink, then drop it into the flute. Serve at once.

MAIMOUN
SERVES 4

Note that you must prepare the fig vodka 24 hours in advance.

3/4 cup vodka
1 cup chopped dried figs (5 ounces)
1 cup mint leaves, plus 4 small sprigs for garnish
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon amaretto
Chilled prosecco or other sparkling wine

The day before you want to serve the drinks, in a small bowl combine the vodka and figs, submerging the figs completely. Cover and set aside for 24 hours. With a very fine mesh strainer set over a small bowl, strain the fig vodka, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the solids.

In a small saucepan, combine the mint leaves and sugar and stir with a wooden spoon, crushing the mint leaves until fragrant. Add the water and place the pan on a burner set to medium. Bring the mixture to a bare simmer, swirling the pan frequently to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 1 minute. Off heat, cool the mixture to room temperature. With a very fine mesh strainer set over a small bowl, strain the mint syrup, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the solids.

Into each of 4 champagne flutes, pour 1 tablespoon of fig vodka, 1 teaspoon each of mint syrup and amaretto, then slowly top with sparkling wine until the flutes are almost full. Garnish each drink with a mint sprig. Serve at once.

Send comments or suggestions to Adam Ried at cooking@globe.com.

Hosts can make a variety of celebratory drinks with sparkling wine. From left: Classic Champagne Cocktail, Maimoun, and Kir Royale. Hosts can make a variety of celebratory drinks with sparkling wine. From left: Classic Champagne Cocktail, Maimoun, and Kir Royale. (Photo by Jim Scherer, styling by Catrine Kelty)

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