CHAMPAGNE COCKTAILS —

CLASS BY THE GLASS

Champagne has a nearly universal appeal. Perhaps no other product enjoys such a sterling reputation for outstanding quality. It is also the one wine that may be appropriately served any day period and with just about any type of food.

It’s unlikely that when Dom Pierre Pérignon discovered the process of making Champagne he had any idea his sparkling wine would give rise to a fabulous style of cocktail. Champagne-based drinks are synonymous with celebrations and special occasions. So exceptional are these libations they can turn any evening into something genuinely memorable.

The new generation of Champagne cocktails is among the latest trends sweeping the country. These drinks are light, effervescent and exceptionally delicious. With the advent of the reusable bottle-stopper that keeps Champagne carbonated overnight, you can pour Champagne by the glass without being concerned that the unused portion will go flat and be wasted.

So if you’re looking showcasing Champagne cocktails at your bar, you’ve come to the right place. —RP


CHAMPAGNE COCKTAILS AT A GLANCE

• DIFFICULTY OF PREPARATION: 5.2 OUT OF 10 — There is some finesse required opening a bottle of Champagne and pouring the highly effervescent wine into a drink. Further down we cover in detail how to avoid the pitfalls surrounding uncorking a Champagne bottle, and as for adding it to a mixed drink, the stuff rapidly develops a foamy head that can spill out over the brim of a glass surprisingly fast.

These cocktails are prepared by handshaking the ingredients—except for the Champagne—and pouring them into a chilled glass. The Champagne is added to the drink just prior to service. This technique accomplishes several things. It thoroughly mixes the ingredients and properly chills the drink without adversely affecting the sparkling wine. The enhanced production value alone makes the exertion worthwhile.

[Scale 1– 10: A drink with a value of 5.0 or lower means it can easily be prepared in one’s sleep, while a rating closer to 10 indicates that it takes several days to prepare and requires an advanced degree.]


• UP-SELLING POTENTIAL: 9.7 OUT OF 10 — Like all wines, brands of Champagnes vary greatly in characteristics and personalities and are available in a wide range of quality and price. It only stands to reason that choosing the most appropriate Champagne or sparkling wine for use in a particular cocktail is a significant success factor.

Champagne is deserving of its fame. It’s made northeast of Paris in the Department of Marne from various grape varietals, including Chardonnay and two black grapes — Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The region’s climate and chalky soil are ideal for cultivating grapes. They are harvested by hand, pressed carefully so as not to crush the delicate skins and allowed to ferment naturally. Afterwards the vintner marries the wines together to create its individual blend, called a cuvée.

Champagne attains its natural effervescence through a process called méthode champenoise. Before bottling, sugar and yeast are added, which initiates a secondary fermentation in the bottle. The process raises the wine’s alcohol content and imbues the Champagne with spritz. Secondary fermentation takes about a month, after which the Champagne is matured in cellars up to three years. The final stage involves the removal of sediment and the bottle being recorked.

Champagnes are principally produced in three versions. Blanc de Blanc Champagnes are made entirely from Chardonnay grapes. Blanc de Noir Champagne is made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and Rosé Champagne is produced from any of these varietals with its alluring tint obtained from the juice being in contact with the grape skins.

Suffice it to say, the better the sparkler, the better the cocktail.

[Scale 1– 10: A drink with an up-selling potential of 5.0 or higher means it’s a financial thoroughbred, a cocktail tailor-made for top-shelf spirits. A cocktail rating below 5 signifies a drink in which the brand of spirits used are of secondary importance compared to the overall effect looking to be achieved.]


• ALCOHOL POTENCY — Champagne drinks are invariably served as cocktails and therefore more potent than those diluted by ice. Another intoxicating aspect of these drinks is their naturally induced effervescence, a feature that hastens the affects of the alcohol.

[As a general rule, 1 1/4-ounces of distilled spirits is equal in alcohol to 4-ounces of wine and 10-ounces of beer.]


• PORTIONING CONSIDERATIONS — When setting out to devise a cocktail of this type and style, it’s advisable beginning with using one part spirits, two parts juice or sour mix and roughly 3 parts chilled Champagne. From that point making the drink stronger (by adding spirits), tarter, more citrusy (by adding sour mix) or effervescent ((by adding Champagne) involves little more than a minor tweak to the recipe.


• SEASONAL ORIENTATION AND TRADE PERIOD — Their designation as timeless classics suggest that marketing these cocktails is free of any constraints—seasonal or otherwise. Champagne cocktails are refreshing in the spring and summer and simply delectable the other months. They’re perfect cocktails to promote for the holidays, Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve.

While classics like the Mimosa and Bellini have become synonymous with Sunday brunch, most Champagne cocktails are enjoyed primarily before dinner as an aperitif with light fare and throughout dinner.


• GLASSWARE OPTIONS — These cocktails are prepared in a mixing glass, shaken and then strained into a chilled Champagne glass, typically 9 to 12 ounces in capacity. Tall, elegant and versatile, Champagne tulip and flute glasses are contemporary favorites, while the more traditional Champagne saucer has fallen somewhat out of favor.


• ALCOHOL-FREE OPTIONS: 5.2 OUT OF 10 — Don’t chuckle, there are now sparkling wines on the market that contain nary a drop of alcohol, or such a miniscule amount as to be considered alcohol-free. The process involved is similar to how caffeine is removed from coffee only centrifuges are used to get the alcohol out of the wine.

Converting the following drinks into an alcohol-free version entails two steps. The first is to replace any modifying liqueur called for in the recipe with similarly flavored syrup. The other is substituting an equal amount alcohol-free sparkling wine for the Champagne. The resulting cocktail will be a street-legal version of the original.

[Scale: The rating of 5.2 out of 10 indicates that while alcohol-free variations exist, Champagne cocktails are not necessarily as accommodating of our teetotaler guests as other categories of drinks.]


CREATING CHAMPAGNE MAGIC

Champagne cocktails exude class and have a well-deserved reputation for impeccable quality, both of which are two of Finest Call’s strong suits. In fact, we offer everything in the way of mixes necessary to create bubbly drink sensations. To that end, here’s a look at what ingredients you’ll need before popping the cork.

• FINEST CALL LIME SOUR MIX — A franchise player in the booming cocktail culture, lime sour mix is perhaps best known as the traditional undercarriage of the Margarita. The key to its palate-pleasing personality is the delicate balance between the fresh citrus and sweetener.

FINEST CALL LIME SOUR MIX is bottled in an easily measured concentrated form, which affords the opportunity to control the exact amount of puckery tartness desired in the finished mix. Diluting it with equal parts, for example, yields a zesty mix with a lightweight body, brilliant citrusy notes and the sublime taste of one prepared from scratch. All that’s missing is the waste, hassle and undue expense.

The following recipes are all field-tested fabulous and feature Finest Call Premium Lime Sour Mix.

Angel’s Blush

Champagne Cocktail De Noir

Champagne Sidecar

Havana Heaven Champagne

Le Pom Champagne


• FINEST CALL BLUE CURAÇAO — There is something intriguing about sipping on a blue cocktail. Maybe it reminds us of a Star Trek episode. Whatever the reason, blue drinks are like a weekend pass to Funsville and FINEST CALL BLUE CURAÇAO is the surefire way to get there. 

Triple Sec and Blue Curaçao are quite similar in taste and aroma. Both have delightful, semi-sweet orange characters. Yet the Curaçao brings something singularly compelling to the table that Triple Sec can’t muster even on its best day.

If you’re looking for a little inspiration on how create magic with Finest Call Blue Curaçao, check out our recipe for the CHAMPAGNE SPREE.


• FINEST CALL FRUIT PUREES — Created to deliver a concentrated blast of fresh fruit flavor, Finest Call Fruit Purees are indispensable when preparing creative variations of classic Champagne cocktails like the Mimosa and Bellini. Our purees are made entirely with premium varieties of fruit sourced from preeminent growing regions. Exacting specifications are maintained throughout the process to ensure uncompromised quality and that the fruit is at peak ripeness.

Our unbeatable range of premium purees includes FINEST CALL RASPBERRY PUREE, FINEST CALL STRAWBERRY PUREE, FINEST CALL BANANA PUREE, FINEST CALL MANGO PUREE, FINEST CALL PEACH PUREE and FINEST CALL PASSION FRUIT PUREE.

The “fresh” movement in mixology is about creating cocktails with vitality and sun-drenched exuberance. Having done nature one better, shelf-stable fruit purees allow you to fully deliver on the promise of fresh without the attendant hassles. That’s a win-win.

The following Champagne drink recipes feature one of the Finest Call purees.

Angel’s Blush (Finest Call Strawberry Puree)

Champagne Cocktail De Noir (Finest Call Raspberry Puree)

Champagne Framboise (Finest Call Raspberry Puree)

Shirley’s Passion Fruit Bellini (Finest Call Passion Fruit Puree)

Tropical Champagne (Finest Call Peach Puree)

Tropical Champagne (Finest Call Strawberry PUREE)


• FINEST CALL AGAVE SYRUP — In a culture where cocktails reign supreme, a more intriguing sweetener than sugar syrup was bound to surface and it has in the form of agave nectar imported from Mexico. This all-natural marvel is made from agave, a succulent related to the aloe best known as the raw product from which tequila is distilled.

FINEST CALL AGAVE SYRUP is made from certified organic blue agaves. It has look of fine white wine, the fragrance of cocoa and malt and a delicious, honey-like flavor laced with delicate caramel and herbaceous notes. Its appealing, high quality syrup with a handmade artisanal feel.

The recipe for the CHAMPAGNE SIDECAR calls for Finest Call Agave Syrup.


• FINEST CALL FLAVORED SYRUPS — Sometimes a splash or two of flavor is all that’s necessary to propel a drink into the extraordinary range. To that end, we’ve created a line of flavored syrups developed specifically for use in cocktails, such as the following.

Caribbean Champagne (Finest Call Pomegranate Syrup)

Champagne Cocktail De Noir (Finest Call Huckleberry Syrup)

Champagne Framboise (Finest Call Bar Syrup)

Le Pom Champagne (Finest Call Pomegranate Syrup)

Shirley’s Passion Fruit Bellini (Finest Call Cherry Juice)


• FINEST CALL DRINK INGREDIENTS — Sometimes to create something genuinely exceptional you need to think beyond the conventional and consider taking the road less traveled. The following recipes best exhibit the spirit of adventure and call for the use of mixes not typically featured in Champagne cocktails.


Caribbean Champagne (Finest Call Mai Tai Mix)

Champagne Framboise (Finest Call Sweet ‘n’ Sour)

Havana Heaven Champagne (Finest Call Mojito Mix)


ESSENTIAL CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL

Professor Jerry Thomas published the original recipe for the CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL in 1862 in The Bon Vivant’s Companion or How to Mix Drinks. After nearly 150 years the recipe has remained relatively unchanged.

The contemporary version of the drink is prepared directly into a chilled Champagne glass. A sugar cube is placed in the glass and saturated with several dashes of Angostura bitters, after which cold Champagne is added slowly. Anticipate that the Champagne with create an immediate froth when it comes into contact with the sugar, thus the need to pour the wine slowly. The finishing touch is twisting a lemon rind such that its essential oils are expressed in the direction of the glass. The spiraled lemon twist is then dropped into the cocktail and served.

Other classic and absolutely essential Champagne cocktails include:

• BELLINI — Created at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy, the Bellini is made with cold white peach puree and chilled Prosecco or Champagne. The proportions range from equal parts of puree to Champagne (or Prosecco) to three parts puree to one part wine.

• BLACK VELVET — Said to have originated at the Brook’s Club in London in 1861. It’s an innovative blend with equal parts of Guinness Irish Stout and Champagne.

• FRENCH 75 — The classic cocktail is made with gin, fresh lemon sour mix and Champagne. Substitute bourbon for the gin to make the FRENCH 95. There is also a cognac-based version of the cocktail, the FRENCH 125.

• KIR ROYALE — The drink is a combination of Champagne, crème de cassis and a lemon twist. A contemporary version is the FRAMBOISE CHAMPAGNE, which pairs Champagne with raspberry liqueur, such as Chambord.

• MIMOSA — Originated in France in the 1920s, the MIMOSA is made with equal parts of fresh orange juice and Champagne. It has launched several variations, including the POINSETTIA (cranberry juice), PUCCINI (tangerine juice) and PIZZETTI (orange and grapefruit juice).

• RITZ FIZZ — Created at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Boston, the now famous Ritz Fizz is prepared using Disaronno Amaretto, Blue Curaçao, fresh lemon sour mix and Champagne.


CHAMPAGNE COCKTAILS — TIPS FOR PROS

Although highly celebrated, Champagne is not the only variety of sparkling wine used in the construction of this style of cocktail. For example, American sparkling wines have steadily increased in renown and popularity. They are made from premium varietal grapes in a similar manner to Champagne. Also popular is Prosecco, a delicious sparkling wine made north of Venice in the Veneto region of Italy. Suitable as well are sparkling ciders and sparkling saké.

Like most commodities, sparkling wines come in many different grades of quality. It is especially important in this respect to hold inviolate the adage about always buying quality and you won’t be disappointed. These cocktails will only be as great as the character of the Champagne or sparkling wine used in its creation.


• SPIRITED OPTIONS — Not surprisingly, many of the famous Champagne-based drinks showcase cognac in their recipes. One famous variation on the drink originated at London Savoy Hotel in the 1920s. The SAVOY CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL was made with an Angostura bitters saturated sugar cube, equal parts of Grand Marnier and V.S. cognac, filled with chilled Champagne and garnished with an orange twist.

Other classics include the CHAMPAGNE IMPERIAL, a blend of cognac, Grand Marnier, a bitters-saturated sugar cube and Champagne, the CHAMPS ELYSEES COCKTAIL, which features V.S. cognac, Benedictine, fresh lemon sour mix and Champagne and the DE GAULLE COCKTAIL, a cocktail made with cognac, Chambord, fresh lemon juice and Champagne.


• MODIFIERS —Modifying Champagne cocktails with liqueurs is another advisable creative tact. A classic example is the Kir Royale —Champagne, crème de cassis and a lemon twist. In our repertoire we have the Angel’s Blush, which pairs Champagne with Chambord raspberry liqueur and Finest Call Strawberry Puree, and the Champagne Spree, a recipe that calls for Disaronno Amaretto and Finest Call Blue Curaçao.


• AVOIDING THE BIG BANG — Care needs to be taken when uncorking a bottle of Champagne. The wine inside is under extreme pressure (90 pounds per square inch) and it can turn a cork into a dangerous projectile in an instant. The following are some pointers on opening a bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine:

• Before opening a bottle of Champagne make sure that it is directed safely away from guests and yourself. Place a cloth towel or napkin over the bottle while loosening the wire enclosure on the Champagne cork. It is not necessary to completely remove the wire cage prior to opening the bottle.

• Keep a firm grip on the cork throughout the procedure. Wrap your thumb and index finger tightly around the cork, digging the wire muzzle into the cork. To loosen, hold the cork tightly and turn the bottle. Do not let the cork cause a popping sound. This is considered bad form and may precipitate Champagne to gush out of the bottle.

• Champagne and sparkling wines are meant to be served chilled, a temperature widely considered to be 44˚F. Serve Champagne after it has been thoroughly chilled in a bucket of icy water or immediately after it has been taken out of the refrigerator. Opening a warm or slightly chilled bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine is a messy proposition.

• Champagne should be served in chilled glassware. Chilling Champagne glasses can easily be accomplished by storing them in a cooler, or placing the glasses in crushed ice for five to ten minutes, or filling each glass with ice water for a minute or two.

• FINAL ACT — These are beautiful, stylish drinks and they deserve to be sent out in public with an appropriate garnish. A traditional embellishment is adding sugar to the rim of the glass. There are numerous flavors and colors of cocktail sugars available on the market.

Fresh fruit is the most frequently relied upon garnish for these cocktails. Lemon and orange twist spirals are both attractive and practical, as they add flavor and essential oils to the drink. Creative options abound.


FINEST CALL SIGNATURE CHAMPAGNE DRINKS

ANGEL’S BLUSH

Champagne glass, chilled

Pour ingredients into an iced mixing glass

1 oz. Chambord

1 oz. Finest Call Strawberry Puree

1 oz. Finest Call Lime Sour Mix

Shake and strain

Fill with chilled Brut Champagne

Garnish with a lime wheel


CARIBBEAN CHAMPAGNE

Champagne glass, chilled

Build in glass

1 ½ oz. Limoncello

1 ½ oz. Finest Call Mai Tai Mix

Fill with chilled Brut Champagne

Float ½ oz. Finest Call Pomegranate Syrup

Garnish with a lime wheel


CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL DE NOIR

Cocktail glass, chilled

Pour ingredients into an iced mixing glass

1 oz. Vodka

¾ oz. Grand Marnier

¾ oz. Chambord

1 oz. Finest Call Raspberry Puree

1 oz. Finest Call Huckleberry Syrup

1 oz. Finest Call Lime Sour Mix

Shake and strain

Top with 2-3 oz. chilled Brut Champagne


CHAMPAGNE FRAMBOISE

Champagne glass, chilled

Pour ingredients into an iced mixing glass

¾ oz. Chambord

1 ½ oz. Finest Call Raspberry Puree

½ oz. Finest Call Bar Syrup

1 oz. Finest Call Sweet ‘n’ Sour

Stir and double strain

Fill with chilled Brut Champagne

Garnish with a lemon twist


CHAMPAGNE SIDECAR

Champagne glass, chilled

Pour ingredients into an iced mixing glass

1 oz. Brandy

¾ oz. Finest Call Agave Nectar

1 oz. Finest Call Lime Sour Mix

Shake and strain

Fill with chilled Brut Champagne

Garnish with a floating lemon wheel


CHAMPAGNE SPREE

Champagne glass, chilled

Build in glass

1 oz. Disaronno Amaretto

1 oz. Finest Call Blue Curaçao

Fill with chilled Brut Champagne

Garnish with an orange twist


HAVANA HEAVEN CHAMPAGNE

House specialty glass, ice

Pour ingredients into an iced mixing glass

1 oz. Dark Rum

1 oz. Finest Call Mojito Mix

1 oz. Finest Call Lime Sour Mix

Shake and strain

Fill with chilled Brut Champagne

Garnish with a lime wedge and mint sprig


LE POM CHAMPAGNE

Champagne flute, chilled

Pour ingredients into an iced mixing glass

1 oz. Citrus Vodka

1 oz. Cointreau

1 oz. Finest Call Pomegranate Syrup

1 oz. Finest Call Lime Sour Mix

Shake and strain

Fill with chilled Brut Champagne

Garnish with a lemon spiral twist


SHIRLEY’S PASSION FRUIT BELLINI

Champagne glass, chilled

Pour ingredients into an iced mixing glass

1 oz. Grand Marnier

1 oz. Finest Call Passion Fruit Puree

Shake and strain

Fill with chilled Brut Champagne

Float ½ oz. Finest Call Cherry Juice

Garnish with an orange twist


TROPICAL CHAMPAGNE

House specialty glass, chilled

Pour ingredients into an empty blender canister

1 oz. Mango Rum

1 oz. Finest Call Peach Puree

1 oz. Finest Call Strawberry Puree

3 small scoops lemon sorbet (4-6 oz. ea.)

Blend thoroughly

Fill with chilled Brut Champagne

Stir gently to mix

Garnish with an orange slice and fresh strawberry

Difficulty of
Preparation

Upselling
Potential

Alcohol-Free
Options