10, 9, 8… the countdown is on! It’s almost time to say goodbye to 2010 and welcome in 2011. Unless you have a bottle of Veuve Clicquot or Dom Pérignon lying around waiting for a celebratory splurge, your sparkling wine options may seem mediocre – nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. And since most of us are still pinching pennies, we recommend you sidestep the big splurge this year in favor of a modestly priced and under appreciated Spanish, Italian or California sparkler. But we also appreciate the need for something delicious on the big annual page turner, and we want to offer up a few of our recommendations to change the drab to fab. So go ahead and pick up that inexpensive bottle of sparkling wine, or case if your having a party, and doctor it up with a few of these suggestions.
If you’re looking for something a bit more colorful and interesting than just a splash of O.J. in your glass, try a fruit reduction with a little spice added. Over medium heat reduce 1 cup of any fruit juice along with an herb or spice, until there’s about 1/4 cup left in the pan. Be creative in your thinking but don’t overwhelm your palette. A good rule of thumb is one fruit juice with one spice. Some examples: tangerine juice and fresh ginger, cranberry and star anise, pomegranate and clove, apple and cinnamon. The combinations are endless. If you’re having a party, prepare a few different reductions and let your guests choose their own combinations.
Jams and Jellies
If you don’t want to reduce the fruit juice you can also try a little fruit preserves. Just add a small spoonful to the bottom of your flute, pour a little sparkling wine over the top, stir to combine and finishing by topping it off with more sparkling wine.
A little scoop of your favorite fruit sorbet in the bottom of a glass slowly topped with sparkling wine. Did we say, YUM?!
Veuve and Bourb
Any fan of Absolutely Fabulous will remember the season that Eddie’s kitchen sported a huge, clear glass fridge full of Veuve Clicquot. The ladies mixed a little bourbon with their Champagne to create one of our all-time favorite Champagne cocktails – “Veuve and Bourb.” For all those bourbon fans out there, this is a must try. Just a splash of bourbon (we prefer Bulleit) is all you need, topped off with your favorite bubbly. But be careful! These drinks have a way of sneaking up on you and before you know it, you might be passed out on the floor just like our best British gal pals Patsy and Eddie.
New Champagne Cocktails
Sparkling Lemonade: A little limoncello with a sugar rimmed champagne flute gives a bubbly elegant twist to the classic Lemon Drop cocktail.
Violets are Indigo: Crème de violet added to Champagne is a wonderful floral treat. Garnish with edible flowers to make it truly special.
Pop goes the cherry: Can you tie a cherry stem into a knot with your tongue? Maraschino liquor added to Champagne along with a maraschino cherry. If you’re a virgin, you won’t be for long after this drink!
Tried and True
If you’re not up to being adventurous with your sparkling this year you can always stick to these classic Champagne cocktails.
Kir Royale: Crème de Cassis and a lemon twist with Champagne
Champagne Cocktail: a cube of sugar, a dash of bitters, Champagne and a lemon twist.
Bellini: peach puree added to champagne.
Black Velvet: For all those with a mixture of Irish and French heritage you might want to try a Black Velvet – half Guinness and half Champagne. After all, in our opinion, Guinness is the Champagne of beers.
Whatever your tipple, we hope your year-end celebrations bring you much joy and revelry as we all look forward to a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!
Cheers to 2011!