Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Gift of Sparking Cocktails

What gift can I give to the readers who have everything? Sparkling cocktails, of course!

There’s always room for new spins on sparkling cocktails, and this time of year bubbles are a fun addition to Christmas and New Year’s gatherings. Last year we had fun mixing them up with friends at our New Year’s Day brunch. I’m bringing some Champagne with me for a Christmas visit to family in CT, who knows how we might finish the bottle!. I even remember mixing up a New Year’s classic with sugar cubes, Korbel and Angostoura bitters over 10 years ago at Kori & Monica’s place. Even if you don’t like bubbly you it's hard resist a sparkling cocktail.

I picked a bottle of Gloria Ferrar Blanc de Noirs California sparkling wine for my cocktail mixology. White wines from Gloria Ferrar are always consistent, offering solid performance and value. My thanks go out to my friend Marie for sharing this bottle from samples she received.

The pictures I ended up with are pretty bad. I used whatever lighting I could throw together and it didn't work as well as I had hoped. Blame my cold, or the fact that I'm not known for my photos.. I did get shots of some of the effervescing in the glass, which is interesting in itself. I hope the drinks live on well beyond their photos here.

The first cocktail I’m calling Special Punch, and is a riff on the punch The Fatal Bowl from the open house over the weekend. It is very reminiscent of the punch and the added bubbles only take it to better places.

Special Punch

2 oz cognac
1oz spiced simple syrup
3 dashes citrus bitters
Sparkling wine
Lemon peel

Mix the cognac and spice syrup. Add the bitters and pour into a flute. Top with the sparkling wine and garnish with a lemon peel.

“I will call him Mini Me”. This drink is a lighter version of the punch from the weekend and exactly what it would taste like if the sparkles were added to the punch bowl. The spices come out in force and tartness from the lemon and the wine help keep the sweetness in balance. I would make this again, frequently.

The second cocktail is the Sparkling Fruit Salad using Pimms #1, ginger syrup and fruit to make a flavored spirit a day ahead.

Sparkling Fruit Salad

10 grapes
5 strawberries
1 apple
Peel of 1 lemon
1 cup Pimms #1
1/3 cup ginger simple syrup
Sparkling wine

Slice the grapes, berries and apple, adding them to a sealable jar. Pour over the Pimms and the syrup. Cover tightly. Gently shake to mix. Allow to macerate overnight in the refrigerator. Use 2 ounces of the base in a flute to make 1 drink. Top off with the sparkling wine. Slices of the fruit and lemon peel can be used as garnish.

This was the winner for me on complexity. The sweetened up Pimms is full of dehydrated fruits, nuts, roots, etc and it really did taste like a day old fruit salad that has begun to mix together. And it's bubbly!

I finish my gift with the Sour Apple Sparkler. I still need to work on this drink. The flavors were not quite right.

Sour Apple Sparkler

1.5 oz Calvados
1 oz sweet cider
½ tsp Meyer lemon tincture
½ oz honey
1 cinnamon stick
Sparkling wine

Mix the Calvados, cider, lemon tincture and honey well. Pour into a flute. Top off with sparkling wine. Add the cinnamon stick for garnish.

Very tart and sour apple, and something not quite in balance. I haven’t decided quite what I am going to do next with this drink, but with the other two around I’m not uniquely motivated to get right on it!

I hope you enjoy your gift. And even better is it one you can re-gift without any regret!




Kelly said...

Love the sound of the apple cider sparkler. That sounds right up my alley.

Marie Payton said...

The sparkling fruit salad sounds delicious! Glad you were able to put the bottle to good use : )

And I did snort my wine a bit on the "mini-me" comment!

Jason Phelps said...

Thanks Marie & Kelly!

I enjoy trying out cocktail ideas and with two solid results I am going to shout Merry Christmas to these!

I have the fruit salad base leftover and should take it with me to visit family. I'm sure somebody will like the idea enough to give it a spin!

Marie, the Gloria Ferrar sparkling wine certainly did not dissappoint. I've never had the blanc de noirs which does have a different flavor profile, one of darker fruits, which worked well with these cocktails.