With sparkling-wine cocktails there’s a natural tendency to go for the cheaper options of Cava and Prosecco rather than full-blown Champagne; but with the festive Champagne price war busting out all over it seems rude not to take advantage.
There are some sparkling cocktails, like the peach-flavoured Bellini, where the rich, yeasty, biscuity flavours of Champagne can be too assertive. Not so with the classic Champagne Cocktail and the Mimosa.
Classic Champagne cocktail
For the former, place a cube or level teaspoon of sugar in a Champagne flute, add a few drops of Angostura bitters and a shot (25ml) of brandy, preferably Cognac, top it up with chilled Champagne and garnish with a strip of orange zest. I would use non-vintage fizz; there’s no need to go crazy.
Mimosa Champagne cocktail
For the Mimosa, essentially a beefed-up Buck’s Fizz, quarter-fill a Champagne flute with fresh orange juice, add a shot of Grand Marnier and top up with Champagne. Grand Marnier and Cointreau, both being orange-flavoured triple secs, are interchangeable in these cocktails. And I cannot overly stress just how carefully you need to pour sparkling wine into fruit juice. It’s pretty explosive.
Clementine and Champagne Bellini
For a citrusy, Christmas-y twist on the Bellini (which is one-third peach juice or nectar with two-thirds Prosecco), try a Clementine Bellini. Just substitute the peach with the juice from freshly squeezed clementines and add a shot of Cointreau before topping up with chilled fizz.
Mojito Royale with Champagne
For a fresh, minty experience, try a Mojito Royale. Shake together one shot of white rum, a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice, a dash of sugar syrup and a few mint leaves with ice (that’s the Mojito part); strain it into a glass, top up with fizz, and garnish with a sprig of mint.
Lilly's Lemonade with Prosecco
My personal favourite, and this has been a big hit at several parties, is the not-very-butch-sounding Lilly’s Lemonade. It was invented in Kettner’s Champagne Bar in Soho and is name after Lilly Langtrey who used to entertain Edward VII in this very building.
Shake gin (35ml), raspberry syrup (35ml), Chambord raspberry liqueur (15ml) and fresh lemon juice (15ml) with ice, strain it into a tall-ice-filled glass, top it up with fizz and garnish with a lemon twist. I think the lighter, fruitier flavours of Prosecco probably work better in this one; and I would say that Chambord is an optional addition to homemade raspberry syrup.
How to make homemade raspberry syrup for cocktails
To make the syrup – and it’s well worth the effort:
- Bring to the boil about two-thirds of a cup of water and the same of white sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove saucepan from the heat and stir in one cup of raspberries.
Mash the mixture with a potato masher or a fork and leave it to steep for at least one hour.
Drain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and store in a sealed container in the fridge.
How to make a quick Prosecco cocktail
For the quickest and easiest sparkling aperitivo, mix two parts Aperol (sort of Campari Lite) with three parts chilled Prosecco. Millions of Italians can’t be wrong.
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