Maybe you need a new way to enjoy all your bubbly leftover from the holidays. Maybe you have just one bottle to lubricate 10 guests. Or maybe your favorite sparkler has just a few ounces left in the bottle.
It’s time for a “Champagne” cocktail!
Here are 3 famous sparkling cocktails we’ve enjoyed during The Chopping Block’s recent Celebration of Champagne & Bubbles classes:
Are you drinking a Mimosa or Buck’s Fizz?
America’s favorite brunch beverage – the Mimosa – was born as the Buck’s Fizz, according to Difford’s Guide for Discerning Drinkers.
While origins are fuzzy, the Buck’s Fizz is thought to have been created at the Buck’s Club (London, England) by bartender Pat McGarry in 1921; the Mimosa is credited to famed bartender Frank Meier of the Ritz Hotel (Paris, France) in 1925.
Both drinks marry Champagne and orange juice, with two distinctions:
- the Buck’s Fizz is two-parts Champagne to one-part OJ, served without ice in a tall tumbler or flute
- the classic Mimosa is equal parts Champagne and OJ, served in a white wine glass over ice.
In 1936, Meier amended the Buck’s Fizz recipe: In a cocktail shaker, add the juice of ½ an orange, ½ teaspoon sugar, ½ glass of gin, shake well. Pour into a fizz glass (tall tumbler), top with Champagne.
Heroes Immortalized in Drink
In the U.S., we honor heroes by naming expressways after them. The French immortalize their heroes with a cocktail.
The Kir and Kir Royale honor Canon Felix Kir (pronounced keer), World War II French Resistance fighter.
Throughout WWII, Nazis raided French cellars, depriving France of her famed wine and her primary source of income. In 1945, as newly-elected Mayor of Dijon, Kir needed to replace sales of his region’s famed Burgundy wines. He turned to 2 other local products: crème de cassis, Burgundy’s blackcurrant liqueur and Bourgogne-Aligote, a lesser-quality white ignored by Nazis.
Sales took off along with the cocktail which was soon dubbed Canon Kir’s aperitif, now simply Kir. The sparkling version is Kir Royale.
For a Kir Royale, add ¼-ounce crème de cassis to a chilled flute. Top with bubbly and serve. For the finest cocktail, use imported crème de cassis and French bubbly, with heightened acidity to balance the liqueur’s sweetness.
From World War I, another French hero (of sorts) was the French 75 mm field gun, commonly called Soixante-Quinze (French for "seventy-five"). Regarded as the first modern artillery piece, Soixante-Quinze delivered 15 rounds per minute on its target without realigning or reloading. It is credited as a key factor in France’s WWI victory.
The Soixante-Quinze cocktail soon graced lounges from Paris to New York, honoring the cannon’s lethal firepower with a blend of gin, lemon juice and Champagne. While variations are many, The Chopping Block recommends:
Yield: 1 drink
Active time: 5 minutes
Start to finish: 5 minutes
3 tablespoons gin
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon simple syrup (see note, below)
1 cup ice cubes
1/4 cup dry sparkling wine, chilled
1 lemon, rind cut into twists
- In a cocktail shaker mix together the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup. Add the ice and shake vigorously for about 20 seconds, or until very cold.
- Strain into a Champagne flute, and top with the sparkling wine.
- Garnish with a lemon twist and serve.
To make simple syrup, place equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and remove from the heat. Allow to cool before using. Any extra simple syrup can be refrigerated until needed.
Keys to Successful Bubbly Cocktails
- Chill all ingredients and glassware.
- Use freshly-squeezed juices.
- Mixers may be prepared in advance and re-chilled but pour bubbly at service.
- While true Champagne was cheap and plentiful when these cocktails were invented, a budget-friendly substitute is dry Prosecco; look for the DOCG designation, generally the least-sweet style. Note however that Prosecco lacks Champagne’s acidity, which balances the sweetness of mixers.
For more information on these and other cocktails, visit Difford’s Guide for Discerning Drinkers.
Sign up for our popular Cocktails 101 class on Saturday, March 14 6pm at the Merchandise Mart.
And get started on cocktail-making at home with the help of The Chopping Block's guide to The Perfect Cocktail.