I’ve been perusing articles about what was “hot” and “not” in 2012 inside the world of cocktails and wine. Yep, there’s been a lot of chat about Mezcal, Tequila, Suze and Negronis, however based purely on sales figures, the explosion has been in bubbly.
Leading the way in quantity, with production nearly 400 million bottles — knocking back Champagne sales — are the sparklers of Italy: Prosecco, the low-alcohol Moscato d’Asti and Lambrusco plus the exciting methode champenoise wines of Franciacorta. Prosecco prices range from $12-$23.
Spain joins in with Cava, an underloved and misunderstood fizz with the best price values on the market, starting at around $9. From the US, there’s a variety of sparkling wine in several prices ranges and in taste levels from bone dry to sweet and fruity.
From Italy also comes a non-alcohol fizz that’s a relief from the omnipresent sparkling apple juice. Donatelli Sparkling Peach is under $6 per bottle can be used for “virgin” cocktails, or as a flavor base.
For New Year’s Eve, here are three of my favorite recipes for sparkling cocktails. Fair warning: these are not your Daddy’s versions or “dressed up” Kirs. These are heady with color, flavor, personality and spice for your taste buds. Sparkle Plenty!
Tip: Always add the sparkling wine as the last ingredient in your glass. All recipes will work with either Champagne or any sparkling wine.
The Sparkling Hibiscus Cocktail:
Jar of Hibiscus Blossoms in their syrup
Chilled Prosecco, Cava, Champagne or Sparkling Wine
Place Hibiscus Blossom at bottom of flute
Add a drizzle of the Hibiscus syrup
Pour sparkling wine into the flute, about ¾ full
Stir gently, tamping blossom down to the base of the flute
Watch as the blossom opens in the liquid. Add more sparkling wine if desired.
Sip and then go ahead and eat the blossom at the end for a bitters-like finish.
Spice of Life Sparkling Ginger Elixer!
Ginger is one of the most healthful ingredients we can add to any recipe. It’s wonderful herbal fire is at once spicy and yet offers soothing warmth as it flows down our throats. Paired with a sparkler, it becomes an elixir to cheer.
Fruity sparkling wine such as Moscato d’Asti or Extra Dry Prosecco
Domaine de Canton Ginger liqueur
Zest from one lemon
Mint leaves both whole and chopped
Whole mint leaves for garnish
Pour 2 tablespoons of the ginger liqueur into each glass
Add sparkling wine
Sprinkle lemon zest and chopped mint, stir gently
Drop a whole mint leaf on top for garnish
A peppery, refreshing elixir!
New Year’s Eve in St. Germain Cocktail:
St. Germain liqueur is made from the Elderflower (which is actually an herb) produced in France. Before this bottled tonic, the syrup had to be made from the frozen flowerheads of the fragile Elderflowers.
St. Germain claims that the flowerheads are picked and immediately biked down the hills from the Alps, keeping their fragrance intact.
This cocktail is bubbly, aromatic, tastes both fruity and a bit tart to add an intriguing edge to the palate. Use a dry or Brut sparkling or Champagne wine to manage the sweetness of the liqueur.
For each glass:
1 oz. Elderflower Liqueur
Dry Sparkling wine
Orange Slice or Twist
Pour Elderflower liqueur into the flute (start with half ounce and then add to taste for sweetness)
Fill the flute with sparkling wine
For garnish, add an orange or lemon slice or twist or a sprig of basil, mint or thyme
St. Germain, Ginger Liqueur, Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup, plus a variety of Champagne, domestic and international sparkling wines (Prosecco, Moscato d’Asti, Lambrusco, Cava, Cremants from Burgundy) are available at Du Vin Wine & Spirits (www.du-vin.com).