Let’s face it, adding a bit of sparkle to your cocktails isn’t hard at this time of year but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth bring out the bubbly and make your drink a champagne cocktail. Whether you’re looking to make a Bellini on Christmas morning or a Kir Royale on New Year’s Eve, Champagne cocktails are super simple and definitely celebratory.
- Don’t bother buying flutes. 11th-generation glassmaker Max Riedel is famous for saying that flutes trap the aromas, whereas regular old white-wine glasses are actually great for sniffing a sparkling wine’s bouquet.
- Tell friends to bring a bottle The more the merrier. Right?
- Keep a few ice buckets around the room so all bottles can stay cool. Fill a bucket about halfway with ice, add a little water, and make sure you keep a towel handy for drips.
- Don’t forget spring-loaded cork stops. Made especially for sparkling wines, these hold the bubbles in the bottle between pours. They’re about $5 a pop (get it?) at liquor and wine stores.
- Swirl your party dress, but not your sparkling wine–it kills the bubbles!
- Save your leftover champers and use the extra the next day for salad dressing, champagne syrup or freeze it into ice pops, with simple syrup, orange juice and mint.
A little history, baby
Attributed to the French monk Dom Pérignon in 1693, it would seem that the inspiration was more fanciful than fact. Although he is recognised as contributing enormously to the development of the technique that finally produced a successful white wine from red wine grapes, it was not quite what we would recognise as Champagne today.
Unfortunately, even his famous quote, “Come quickly, I am drinking the stars,” appears to be a little doubtful. The eloquent declaration is plastered on a champagne ad dating from the 1880s, but it’s rather difficult to trace it back any further and certainly not to the 17th century.
More correctly, it is believed that Dom Pérignon spent a lot of time trying to get the bubbles out of his sparkling wine, primarily to mitigate the effects of refermentation, a major problem for winemakers of the time.
Yet without his labour, generations of devotees from Madame Pompadour (who believed that “Champagne is the only wine that leaves a woman beautiful after drinking it,” to Noël Coward, are no doubt grateful that he failed.
After all, Mr Coward’s “Why do I drink Champagne for breakfast? Doesn’t everyone?” has spurred on countless day-drinkers and cemented the idea that it’s always 5-o’clock somewhere.
No matter whether the accuracy of the invention or the date attributed are correct, we think mixing up some Champagne cocktails are the perfect excuse for a cocktail party this weekend.
We do know that Dom Pérignon established the principles of modern champagne making that are still in use today, so we say let’s raise a glass to him (and perhaps a bottle or two) none-the-less.
If you are after a high spirited evening than you can’t go past a classic Champagne Cocktail as your drink of choice this weekend. A mixture of liquor, bitters and sugar, all dressed up with bubbles, is not only easy to make but also perfect for the occasion. Simply place a sugar cube in a chilled champagne flute, lash it with 2 or 3 dashes of bitters, and fill the glass with Brut Champagne. For a slightly sweeter version, why not lose the sugar cube, add a little Calvados and Grand Marnier to the bitters and top with Champagne.
If you are after a cocktail that is equally as easy but perhaps a little more fun, than a Chambord Royale is definitely the drink your friends won’t forget.
Saltiness is the taste sensation that is missing from Champagne’s flavour profile, so why not counter-balanced that with somewhat salty canapés and entrees. Champagne and oysters are a favourite canapé coupling.
Here are a few simple do’s and don’ts that are useful to know when Champagne pairing:
- Don’t pair your bubbly with flavours that are too overpowering. You’ll want to avoid food that is overly spicy or bitter or sugary.
- Don’t go too heavy. Save your rich Osso Bucco casserole for another night (with red wine, mmmm). There’s a caveat to this: Vintage Champagne is a lot more full-bodied and can be paired with food that is more substantial; for example, truffle risotto, duck ragout with rigatoni or grilled salmon (apparently Vegemite on toast can bring out the earthiness and the idea of eating Vegemite toast with Champagne is really just too perfect).
- Do pair salty food with your sparkling, it provides a great counter-balance to the sugars and acid.
- Do go for crunchy foods, they match really well with the fizzy ‘texture’ of champs. Champagne and chips for the win!
And here are some of our favourite glam snacks to serve with Champagne & sparkling wine:
- crunchy crudites (for example, carrot, cucumber and celery sticks) and breadsticks with a salty dip such as olive tapenade or taramasalata
- hard cheeses such as pecorino or cheddar with salty crackers
- lightly spiced buttery popcorn or plain potato chips (our personal favourite)
- fried chicken (yep but just don’t get the grease all over the glassware)
- raw seafood like oysters, sashimi, or caviar
- lightly cooked seafood like steamed barra, grilled scallops, smoked salmon, ceviche, whole fish wrapped in foil cooked on the BB
- Mexican snacks like fish tacos or crunchy chicken tostadas (make your squeeze of lime teensy-tiny because you don’t want too much acid)
- salt and pepper squid (use rice flour for a more delicate and gluten-free option)
- asparagus with hollandaise
We put together some monastic champagne music to get you and your friends in a party mood – we start off with a little Gregorian Chant than mix in some Chmagne worthy tracks
If you are unsure what you’ll talk about, then we have a few articles that can provide some fun facts for you and your guests.
Yes, its confirmed, cat owners drink double the amount of Champagne of dog owners – and no, we’re not really sure what this means …
If you’re about to go travelling, then, of course, the first question you ask is which first-class cabin has the best Champagne
If you didn’t think Climate Change was real, then see how it’s altered the way that Cristal Champagne is made
Does champagne have a hedonistic history? Tell us its not true …
Like anything else, Champagne has myths that surround it, but which ones are true?