There’s no better way to ring in the holiday season than with a little bubbly – especially when it’s the featured ingredient in one of the effervescent champagne-cocktail recipes we scored from some of New York’s top chefs and mixologists. Their flutes of fancy transport us to the Mediterranean, with pomegranate molasses and orange liqueur; to Austria, with a drizzle of elderflower syrup; to Sweden, with aquavit and berries; to Cuba, with a sparkling mojito; and even, thanks to Dale DeGroff’s revival of the Campari-tinged Le Perroquet, back in time. Champagne-cocktail classicists will welcome two newfangled takes on the mid-nineteenth-century trick that have spirit-soaked sugar cubes dissolving gradually in the bottom of the glass, releasing a heady stream of bubbles. If name-brand champagne is too pricey for your budget, Italian prosecco or Spanish cava will also do the delightfully fizzy trick (especially when you’re serving a thirsty crowd). That calls for a toast.
Each recipe makes one drink.
From The Craft of the Cocktail
by Dale DeGroff
(Clarkson Potter; $35)
Generous dash of Campari
Dash of gin
2 ounces fresh orange juice
4 ounces chilled champagne
Garnish: Twists of lemon and orange peel Pour the Campari, gin, and orange juice into a flute. Top with champagne. Garnish with lemon and orange twists.
5 ounces Austrian sparkling wine (preferably Cuvée Klimt) or prosecco
1 ounce D’Arbo elderflower syrup (available at Dean & DeLuca, 560 Broadway, at Prince Street)Pour the champagne into a flute, and drizzle in the elderflower syrup.
1 ounce OP aquavit
1 ounce Chambord
1 teaspoon sweetened (Rose’s) lime juice
4 ounces champagne
Garnish: 2 or 3 raspberries Pour the OP, Chambord, and lime juice into a champagne glass, and top with the champagne. Garnish with raspberries.
1 sugar cube
2 teaspoons Clear Creek eau-de-vie de pomme or similar apple brandy (available at Union Square Wines, 33 Union Square West)
1⁄2 ounce cranberry juice
4 ounces Daniel Cuvée or other brut champagne
Garnish: 1 thin slice Granny Smith apple Drop a sugar cube into a flute. Add the eau-de-vie de pomme and the cranberry juice. Slowly add the champagne (it will foam up) and stir gently, trying not to disturb the sugar cube. Set the apple slice on the inner rim of the flute, two thirds submerged, to soak up the flavor.
One fluid ounce equals two tablespoons.
Anything added to the champagne should be well chilled, since no ice is added to the cocktails.
When adding champagne, pour a small amount into the glass, let it foam and subside, and add the rest. Sugar cubes make the champagne foam more.
To decorate a glass, dip the rim in a saucer of liquor or syrup, then in a dish of granulated sugar.
1⁄2 teaspoon pomegranate molasses (available at Kalustyan’s, 123 Lexington Avenue)
1 ounce Gran Torres (orange liqueur; available at Union Square Wines, 33 Union Square West)
5 ounces prosecco (cava can be substituted)
Garnish: Twist of orange peelStir the pomegranate molasses with the Gran Torres liqueur until the molasses has dissolved. Pour into a flute. Top with prosecco. Garnish with orange peel.
1 tablespoons sugar
3 large sprigs mint
1⁄2 lime, cut into wedges
2 ounces white rum
4 ounces champagneMuddle the sugar, mint, and lime with 2 or 3 ice cubes in a cocktail shaker until everything is well crushed. Add rum, cover, and shake. Strain the frothy mixture into a flute, making sure to get some of the crushed mint leaves in the cocktail. Top with champagne.
3 sugar cubes
1 ounce Lillet Blanc
Dash of Angostura bitters
2-inch-by-3⁄4-inch strip orange peel
4 and 1⁄2 to 5 ounces champagne Drop the sugar cubes into a flute, and add Angostura bitters. Squeeze a freshly cut piece of orange peel into the glass, run it over the rim to coat the edge with citrus oil, and then drop the peel into the glass. Add the Lillet to the glass, and slowly fill with champagne.
2 ounces Looza pear nectar
2 ounces Looza passion-fruit nectar
4 ounces brut champagne
Garnish: 1 thin slice pear Pour the nectars into a flute and top with champagne. Garnish with pear slice. (Note: May also be made in batches and served in a pitcher when entertaining a large group. A couple of frozen-nectar cubes will keep it cold without diluting the drink.)