Are you ready?
Is your champagne chilled?
Are your glasses out? Rinsed? Dried? Ready to use?
I love a good glass of bubbly and I often pour myself a glass for no reason at all... Life is reason enough to celebrate, isn’t it?
But New Year's Eve is really worth celebrating... As we bid farewell to the old, we openly embrace the new and welcome all the good that will come our way. Whether you like champagne on its own or doctored up a bit, there's a way for everyone to enjoy it as we anxiously await the arrival of a New Year.
Champagne is indeed a festive and joyous beverage. The word alone brings a smile to my face. In fact, it is said that when Dom Perignon first had a taste of his own fantastic beverage, he announced to all
"Come quickly, I am drinking the stars!”
There are many kinds of effervescent beverages out there and not all will break the bank. If you plan on drinking it straight up opt for a better bottle, Veuve Clicquot happens to be a favorite to many and is at a moderate price point. Perrier Jouet, Moet, Dom Perignon, Pol Roger are some other popular choices. There are many other wonderful boutique champagnes out there as well. Talk with your local sommelier for some suggestions.
If you plan on making or serving Champagne cocktails this New Year's you may prefer a Spanish Cava or an Italian Prosecco. These of course, might be your prefered choices for mixing as they tend to be a good bit less expensive. These too are wonderful on their own, but I prefer to mix with these and save the good Champagne for drinking on its own. For those of you who find Champagne too bubbly, Prosecco is slightly less so. Rustico is my favorite Prosecco label.
A purist myself, there are times I really do enjoy a lovely Champagne cocktail.
Some lovely ideas, you'll find below.
The French 75 is a simple yet cocktail made from gin, Champagne, lemon juice, and sugar.
The drink was first created by Harry MacElhone in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris, which later became known as Harry's New York Bar. Some claim it was first made at The Savoy in New York City. Everyone seems to agree that it was created during WW1. It is said that the combination had such a kick that one felt like they were being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun. This cocktail is often referred to as a 75 Cocktail, or Soixante Quinze in French. This festive beverage was popularized in America at the Stork Club in New York.
The Kir Royale is such a simple and pretty Champagne Cocktail. In my late 20s and early 30s I served these all the time after being introduced to them by a close friend. It is said that Kir became popular in French cafes in the middle of the 19th century and was further popularized by Felix Kir after World War II. The then mayor of Dijon in Burgundy, France, served the drink often to promote his region's fine products (wine and creme de cassis). The name Kir has been associated with the drink ever since. Kir is a creme de cassis, but the modern twist is to use Chambord, a raspberry liqueur, which gives the drink a slightly deeper color. The great thing about this drink is that it can be created to taste. For those wanting a sweeter cocktail, more Chambord is added to the glass and for those wanting a dryer beverage, one needs to add just a drop for a beautiful color.
Chambord is another liqueur that comes to us from France, from the Province of the same name, at a real French château. The liqueur is made in three very simple steps. Fresh blackberries and raspberries are selected, the juices are squeezed and soaked in French spirits for four weeks at that point more spirits are then added and after two weeks the infusion is ready, the fruit is pressed allowing the natural juices and sugars to be released and what results in a delicious, sweet and fragrant liqueur. From there the syrup is blended with with black raspberries and blackcurrants. Next French cognac, sweet Madagascan vanilla and fragrant herbs are added. From there the ingredients are all blended together using a tradition that dates over 300 years. For more on Chambord, visit their website.
Champagne and St. Germaine, La Rosette
The liqueur is made from elderflower, a small, white starry flower that blooms through the spring and summer. While it is by no means rare, the flowers "are maddeningly ephemeral once picked and quickly lose their delicate fragrance and flavor."
Saint Germain liqueur seems to bottles their liqueur in an artisanal manner. The flowers are gathered from the hillsides in the French Alps during a short four- to-six-week period in spring. These picked flowers are then bicycled over to a collection depot where they are macerated immediately to retain the fresh flavors of the bloom. Each bottle is individually numbered, reflecting the year in which the flowers were picked. For more information and the company's history, please do visit their website.
For every 4 ounces of Champagne add 1 ounce of St. Germaine.
Garnish with lemon, mint, lavender, cucumber… anything you wish!
Champagne and Sorbet, Sgroppino al limone
This Italian Prosecco treat verges on dessert. You can either follow the recipe below or, simplified, you can simply choose to add a scoop of sorbet to your flute. Although this recipe calls for limon, any flavor will do. Have fun!
1 pint lemon sorbet
4 tablespoons vodka
1 cup Prosecco
1/4 cup heavy cream
1. Chill 4 to 6 Champagne flutes.
2. In a bowl, whisk sorbet until smooth. Gradually whisk in the vodka, Prosecco and heavy cream. Pour the mixture into a pitcher and serve immediately in the chilled flutes. (The drink will separate if left standing.)
Pear and Champagne Martini
This recipe, via Style Me Pretty, combines three of my favorites - Champagne, pear vodka and St. Germain. it's simple, light and just slightly sweet and perfect for either New Year's Eve or a New Year's Day brunch.
Champagne and Cotton Candy
I had a restaurant as a client and every once in a while, for no reason at all, they’d whip out the cotton candy maker and serve the pretty pink fluffy sweetness in a glass of bubbly. It’s fun, festive and always a crowd pleaser. Note: Serve immediate as the cotton candy will start to dissolve as soon as it’s placed upon the liquid. You want just enough cotton candy to act as a pretty garnish and not to over-sweeten your bubbly!
Winter Champagne Cocktail
4 oz sparkling wine
1 clementine, peeled & juiced
2 dashes such as Triple Sec or Cointreau
1 rosemary sprig (for garnish)
In a coupe glass (as seen above), add 1 oz of your citrus juice. Drop the peel into the glass and add the bitters. Top with your favorite sparkling wine and garnish with a rosemary sprig.