Toast of the Town

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Pop open the bubbly! Champagne cocktails let you celebrate every day!

NOL_HiRes_P.35-68_Page_12_Image_0002.jpgAhh, champagne … the celebratory cocktail of choice. Those delicate bubbles of bliss that excite and enchant so many are happily imbibed during special occasions and life’s little milestones. But why wait for a life-altering moment? I will never understand those who must have the “right occasion” to indulge in such sparkling splendor. As for me, everyday is the perfect day for champagne.

Madame Lilly Bollinger, of the famous Bollinger Champagne House and my personal idol, was quoted as saying, “I drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it—unless I’m thirsty.” Now, that’s my kind of gal!

While many people do reserve a flute of bubbly for significant events, others are finding deliciously unique ways in which to “celebrate” more frequently. Therein lies the increasing popularity of the Champagne cocktail. And, while some Champagne purists cringe at such a creation, many bubbly fans are welcoming them with open arms. Champagne cocktails are popping up at the hottest restaurants and nightclubs in all the hippest cities.

While Champagne cocktails are hardly new, they are experiencing somewhat of a renaissance. (It is believed that the monks who invented sparkling wine may have dropped in some local fruit on occasion to create a unique fizzy beverage.) In fact, I attended a recent dinner party hosted by some friends, and the aperitif they served was a French 75 (with a twist … the host added a dash of brandy on top). This drink was created by military officers during WWI and named after the French 75mm gun. It blends gin, lemon juice and sugar, all of which are shaken with ice, then strained and topped with Champagne. Then there’s the Mimosa, probably the most familiar Champagne cocktail around. A simple combination of Champagne and orange juice, the Mimosa is an ideal brunch companion. During the holiday season, I find the Poinsettia, a combination of cranberry juice and Champagne, to be the perfect seasonal party drink, not only because it’s tangy and delicious but because it’s bright red color could not be more festive.

I would be remiss not to mention the classic Champagne cocktail. While there are some variations on this vintage bubbly beverage, they all start with Angostura Bitters dripped onto a sugar cube and placed in the bottom of a flute glass. One ounce of Cognac is poured on top of the sugar cube (some recipes omit the Cognac), then topped with Champagne; most are garnished with lemon or orange peel.

Then there is the Kir Royale, a fusion of crème de cassis and Champagne, which was created in France. Crème de cassis, a liqueur made from black currants, was traditionally used by commoners to enhance the flavor of the pedestrian white wines typically available in Burgundy (called the Kir). When the elite upper class caught on, they naturally found it much too ordinary, so they added cassis to Champagne, thus creating the Kir Royale.

With so many great ingredients available today, creative mixologists are concocting all sorts of interesting bubbly beverages, simply by adding unique juices (pomegranate, mango, even watermelon) or different alcoholic beverages (stout beer, tequila and apricot brandy among others). For this Champagne devotee, the sky’s the limit when it comes to exploring bubbly brews.

Try one of these tempting Champagne cocktails from Pernod Ricard USA

Axis Kiss
Perrier Jouet Grand Brut
Dash of Hiram Walker Amaretto
Dash of Hiram Walker Crème de Cassis
Pour the amaretto and crème de cassis into a chilled Champagne flute. Gently top with Perrier Jouet Grand Brut.

Sparkling Pom Royal
2 oz. Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Wine
1 oz. Hiram Walker Pomegranate
Pour Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Wine into a chilled Champagne flute. Then add Hiram Walker Pomegranate and watch the color change to a rich, dark red.

French 75
4 oz. G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge
1/2 oz. Beefeater Gin
Splash of lemon juice Orange twist

Add G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge to Beefeater Gin in a chilled Champagne flute. Garnish with an orange twist.

Champagne Blues
Cuvee “M” by Mumm Napa Hiram Walker Blue Curacao Lemon Peel

Pre-chill Cuvee “M” and curacao. Pour Cuvee “M” into a chilled glass and add curacao to taste. Twist lemon peel over drink and drop into glass.