In the Northern Hemisphere spring is in full swing. Tendrils of green burst forth at every corner and we can finally emerge from our homes without wearing full on winter gear. This also means it’s time to switch up our drinking habits to suit the season.
While Champagne (or sparkling wine if you’re on a budget) cocktails are terrific aperitifs year round, they’re unequivocally appropriate for spring. And who are we kidding? We can all stand to drink a bit more bubbly — no need to save the good stuff for the end of the year and the holiday season. These are stellar food-friendly wines which make a killer cocktail base. Looking for easy drinking sippers for your next brunch bash? Here are some of our favorites.
One of the simplest Champagne cocktails to make, the Kir Royale is an improvement of the classic Kir. Now, crème de cassis can be tricky to get your hands on, so Chambord, a black raspberry liqueur from the Loire, makes a gorgeous substitute. The Kir Royale is ideal for larger gatherings, so be sure to include it on your cocktail list for any upcoming get-togethers you’re hosting.
Pour ¼ tsp of crème de cassis or Chambord into a flute. Top up with chilled sparkling wine then garnish with a lemon twist or fresh berries.
Questionable cocktailing skills? The French 75 or the Soixante Quinze, if you’re traipsing through Paris, is très facile to put together. Dating back to World War I, the French 75 looks light in the glass, feels bright on the tongue, but packs a wallop. It was named in deference to the French Canon 75mm field gun; both cocktail and gun were known for their formidable strength.
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add 1 oz gin, ½ oz lemon juice, and ½ oz simple syrup. Shake and strain into a flute. Top with Champagne and garnish with a lemon peel.
Note: If you can get a hold of Meyer lemons, they’ll really amp up the flavor in your French 75s.
We hop over to Italy with this next quintessential cocktail. Leave the Champagne behind in France and pick up a bottle of Prosecco for your Bellinis. The original version calls for white peach purée, but feel free to jazz up your Bellinis by using a fruit puree of your choosing. Have a basket of freshly picked strawberries? You know they’d be perfect for Bellinis.
Pour peach purée into a flute and top with Prosecco. Stir very gently and serve.
Death in the Afternoon
This potent Champagne cocktail is a concoction of Ernest Hemingway, who created it after a spell in Paris where he sipped on absinthe aplenty. Death in the Afternoon is both the name of this lethal tipple and Papa’s peerless ode to bullfighting and its history. Pour absinthe into a flute and top with Champagne until the absinthe louches, transforming from clear green to a milky eau de nil.
Pour a jigger (that’s one and a half oz) of absinthe into a flute. Top with Champagne. Cancel your plans for the evening if you drink more than two.
Champagne & St. Germain
There’s nothing like the subtle floral taste of elderflower and as luck would have it, this ethereal flavor just so happens to work beautifully with Champagne. Because St. Germain has a touch of sweetness to it, opt for drier styles of bubbly.
Pour 1 ounce of the elderflower liqueur into your flute and top up with the sparkling wine of your choice. Instant, no-fuss, and absolutely divine.
There are a few things to bear in mind before you break out your flutes:
Don’t use expensive Champagne for cocktails. You’ll miss out on the nuances found in premium bubbly. It’s extravagant and unnecessary. Entry-level Champagne, Cremants, Cava or Prosecco are the way to go.
You can hit up your local farmers’ market for fresh produce if you’re in the mood to put your own spin on these classics.
If you’re feeling a particularly strong creative spark or simply love sparkling, sub bubbly into your favorite springtime cocktails. Think along the lines of a Prosecco Lemonade, Champagne Julep, sparkling sangria, and so on.
Easy to make and even easier to drink, it’s virtually impossible to go wrong with Champagne cocktails. Be sure to knock a few back at your next weekend brunch or picnic in the park to kick off spring the right way.