Let’s mix it up

You can’t go wrong with Champagne

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Drinking Champagne is celebratory (like the holidays) and a stress reducer (during the holidays). Bubbles match perfectly with every meal or on their own, and a pretty bottle of Champagne is the flawless and appropriate hostess gift. You can never, ever, go wrong with Champagne.

Having said that, what if we talk about Champagne cocktails and all of the fun ways you can spruce up a holiday brunch or virtually any party with a liquor + bubbles combo. The original Champagne cocktail isn’t a cocktail at all; it’s simply the addition of a sugar cube, a lemon twist and a dash or two of Angostura bitters to the glass. It originates from the Civil War era; presumably to make even a cheap bottle of bubbles taste great! Angostura bitters is a highly concentrated botanically infused spirit, used for enhancing cocktails.

Certainly a bartender favorite is the French 75. Wondering how this cocktail came up with its name, I snooped around and found an interesting story. Like so many things, it originated out of an availability of ingredients. Many believe American soldiers in World War I hankering for a Tom Collins devised this drink. They had gin and lemons but no soda, so they used what was at hand: Champagne. The result was named for the French-made 75-millimeter guns used in the war. OK, that’s just good trivia right there. It also happens to be delicious. The bubbles give the drink texture, the gin kicks it up and the lemon juice provides the citrusy balance. You can also substitute cognac instead of the gin for a different flavor. You’ll need one ounce of gin, half an ounce each of lemon juice and simple syrup, and 4 ounces of Champagne or whatever kind of bubbles you have chosen. Put the gin, lemon juice and sugar into a cocktail shaker with ice, shake, strain into a flute and then add the bubbles.

You like mojitos, (see recipe below) yes? It may seem like a summery island-type drink (which quite frankly sounds fine with me, too), but by topping it with Champagne – now it’s holiday worthy.

Finally, the Kir Royale. A very simple but classic recipe: three parts Champagne, one part Crème de Cassis (black currant liqueur). The Kir originated in Burgundy, France, and is named after the priest Canon Félix Kir.

Now, go get mixing!

Champagne Mojitos
Serves 12

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups packed mint leaves, plus 12 mint sprigs, for garnish
6 limes, cut into wedges
2 cups light rum
Cracked ice
3 cups Champagne or sparkling wine

1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and cook over high heat just until the sugar has dissolved. Let cool to room temperature

2. In a large pitcher, combine the sugar syrup with the mint leaves and lime wedges and muddle well with a wooden spoon. Add the rum and stir well. Strain the drink into another pitcher.

3. Fill tall glasses with cracked ice and pour in the drink, filling them about two-thirds full. Top with Champagne, garnish with the mint sprigs and serve.

First appeared in the December 2016 issue of Fort Wayne Magazine.

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