What’s more refreshing than an ice-cold cocktail when you’re sitting poolside on a hot day? One with some bubbly in it. Lucky for all of us, Champagne cocktails are in.
I’m not talking about mimosas here, although the brunch staple is the OG Champagne cocktail. I’m referring more to the French 75s and the Aperol Spritzes of the world. Yes, I know an Aperol Spritz is made with sparkling wine, not Champagne, but it’s still part of this cocktail category.
The beauty of champagne cocktails is that they can be as low key or as high maintenance as you want them to be. And if you don’t have Champagne on hand, any sparkling wine will do. It’s all about preference.
“Simplicity is the key,” says Matt Hadley, the general manager for The Vineyard Wine Bar & Healthy Bistro in Windermere. “Just like food, with any drink it’s important to find ingredients that complement each other.”
That means fresh juices, herbs and fragrant garnishes that will enhance both the taste and the presentation of champagne cocktails. Consider the notes of the sparkling wine or what type of additional liquor you’re including when deciding on the other ingredients. Consider basil or rosemary if you’re adding gin to your cocktail or a wedge of lemon or lime for a garnish (add in the juice if you wish) when you want to balance out a sweeter wine.
“The perfect garnish will not only enhance the overall look of the cocktail, but it also creates complexity in a drink through the senses.”
Of course, your champagne cocktails don’t have to include an additional liquor, but if you choose to go for it, Hadley says vodka is the most common addition. This could be because it’s essentially a blank canvas when not flavored. Grand Marnier is also a popular enhancement. When it comes to the bubbly, Prosecco and non-vintage Champagnes work well with the majority of these cocktails because they’re light, mild and refreshing, according to Hadley.
Finally, whether you’re using a wine glass or a Champagne flute, go big with the glassware to dress up your champagne cocktails. Hadley says, “Have fun with the glassware, as it is the canvas to your drink art.”
Cheers to a bubbly beach season!
Raspberry Lime Champagne Punch
Courtesy of Matt Hadley, The Vineyard Wine Bar & Healthy Bistro
-⅓ cup sugar
-⅓ cup water
-¾ cup lime juice, preferably freshly squeezed
-2 cups tonic water
-2 cups raspberries
-1 lime, sliced
-1 bottle Champagne or sparkling white wine
-1/4 cup vodka, optional
To prepare simple syrup, heat water to boiling and add sugar. Let cool. In a large pitcher, combine simple syrup, lime juice, tonic water and raspberries. Add optional vodka if you prefer. Pour Champagne or sparkling wine (Prosecco preferable) over mixture and serve.