The start of fall means football, pumpkins and plenty of baked goods. But sometimes you want to put aside sports and focus on something more elegant – and with the chill in the air and holidays fast approaching at-home cocktail parties are the way to go.
Now I know most of you can throw together the food – just hit up Dean & Deluca for some cheese, meats, bread and fruit. But the drinks are a bit trickier. Beer? Save it for the boyfriend. Wine? For some reason, a bit too simplistic. So spice up your fete with my fave at-home sparkler: Champagne Cocktail.
First off, this is nothing like a mimosa. It’s far more classic. Just pretend like you’re sitting pretty in a café with Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca and forget overly juiced fruit-bombs with a hint of fizz.
Pop a sugar cub into a Champagne flute. Douse the sugar in Angostura bitters (you can get these at any liquor establishment) and then fill the glass with cold Champagne. Squeeze a lemon peel and toss on top as a garnish. If you’re feeling like super-hostess, garnish with an orange slice as well. Ta-da!
What’s important here? Make sure you have all the ingredients, including the lemon peel. It takes just a few minutes to slice the peel off a fresh lemon, and it makes a world of difference in the balance of the drink. Also, be sure to use a Champagne, Cremant, or brut sparkling wine – the flavors from the bitters and sugar work best with a dry sparkler. So without any shaking or stirring you’ll have a fabulous cocktail that pairs well with cheese, fruit and dessert (chocolate-covered strawberries anyone?). You’ll surely impress your friends, your date, and maybe even yourself, and be sipping an Old Hollywood treat while you’re at it.
Recommended Sparkling Wines:
– Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne Yellow Label Non-Vintage, $45
– Jaillance Cremant de Bordeaux Brut Non-Vintage, $18
– Mumm Napa Brut Prestige, $20
– STEPHANIE CAIN