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  • The Chopping Blog

Bubbly Cocktails Can Brighten Your January

Posted by Viktorija on Jan 7, 2016


In the day and age of the fancy cocktail, I must admit: I am not a big cocktail person. I love the idea of a cocktail, a civilized way to end the day and ease into the evening, surrounded with friends and smart conversation, like in the movies. But most cocktails are either too sweet or too strong for me. After a cocktail, it is hard for me to also have a glass of wine. And given how I feel about wine, I often choose to skip the cocktail in favor of a glass of bubbly.

But now I know the two are not mutually exclusive: enter the cocktail based on bubbly wine! On a trip to Gascony, in the Southwest of France, I discovered a lovely orange-flavored cocktail based on Armagnac, the famous French brandy. The cocktail, known as pousee rapiere, is sweet, but also slightly bitter and refreshing. In the version I make at home, I use sparkling wine with a splash (or two!) of Armagnac. To add some zest to this already delicious cocktail, I add a couple of drops of bitters. I love orange bitters because they complement the flavor of Armagnac, but you can use any flavor you like. Or experiment with different flavors of bitters to make the cocktail taste different every time.

A recent trip to the magical city of Venice prompted me to fall in love with another bubbly-based cocktail: Aperol spritz. Aperol is an Italian drink with a slightly bitter orange flavor and hints of herbs. Wandering the alleys of Venice, where Aperol is the aperitif of choice, I was tempted by the bright orange drink. I had tried spritz before, but mostly with Campari, which has a much stronger bitter flavor.

Aperol_SpritzPhoto courtesy of Peter AC Newbury

My first taste of Aperol spritz made me a convert! Bright, fizzy, and light, the drink was the perfect way to quench my thirst after a long day of walking and get me to start thinking about dinner and all the tasty choices Venice offers. Sitting in one of the countless wine and snack bars in Venice almost requires a glass of the orange colored cocktail. It is the perfect pairing for cicchetti, the Venitian finger foods that tempt from every store window, and also the perfect way to look like a local.

AperolPhoto courtesy of Peter AC Newbury

And just to make sure I was not missing anything, one night my travel companion and I ordered one spritz made with Aperol and one with Campari (a much less common option in Venice). Indeed, the Aperol cocktail had a lightness of being and zest that the Campari cocktail, being fuller-bodied and serious, lacked. So, Aperol it is for me!

The best part is that making Aperol spritz is super easy. The recipe on the bottle calls for 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, and a splash of soda. I like my Aperol spritz a little lighter, so I use more Prosecco and less Aperol. I don’t measure, simply pour Prosecco in a wine glass, then add Aperol and some soda, a slice of orange and taste.

Now, I can have my cocktail and my sparkling wine, all in one.

If one of your new year resolutions is to learn more about wine, join me for The Chopping Block's Building Blocks of Wine: What's in a Sip? at Lincoln Square on Thursday, February 25 at 7pm. We will swirl, sip, and learn about what makes wine taste good and how we discover what tastes good to us.



Topics: cocktail, Wine, bubbly

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