Tiny bub­bles give boost to cock­tail fla­vors

Sparkling wine be­comes pop­u­lar as mixer.

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN360 DAILY - By michelle Locke CEO and wine­maker Eileen Crane sits with a glass of Brut Cu­vee sparkling wine at Do­maine Carneros in Napa, Calif. At this time of year, she’ll of­ten add a tea­spoon of pome­gran­ate juice to make it fes­tive. ERIC RIS­BERG / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Some­thing new is bub­bling up in the world of cock­tails as canny mixol­o­gists skip the soda and turn to sparkling wine as their new go-to mixer.

The prac­tice stems from the added care be­ing given to cock­tail in­gre­di­ents in gen­eral. Af­ter all, it hardly makes sense to drown the top-shelf hard stuff in some­thing cheap and/or sug­ary.

“It’s not the best thing to be putting club soda or any type of soda in a cock­tail,” points out Chad Fu­ruta of Del Frisco’s Grille in New York.

Fu­ruta traces the emer­gence of sparkling-wineas-mixer to the pop­u­lar­ity of prosecco, the slightly sweet Ital­ian fizz that pairs well with liquors. “It def­i­nitely brought a new as­pect to the ta­ble and gave bar­tenders like my­self a new out­let to bring out the nat­u­ral fla­vors in a cock­tail, as well as the cel­e­bra­tory fac­tor.”

He rec­om­mends us­ing lighter-tast­ing spir­its when us­ing sparkling wine, and also keep­ing an eye on the over­all al­co­hol level since you don’t want to cre­ate a booze bomb.

For his sig­na­ture gin­ger snap cock­tail, Fu­ruta mixes prosecco with Do­maine de Can­ton, a gin­ger liqueur that’s less than 60-proof (com­pared to the 80-proof of most spir­its), us­ing a mix of 3 ounces prosecco, 1 ounce liqueur and 1 ounce fresh sour mix, which he makes with equal parts fresh lemon juice, fresh lime juice and 1 ½ parts sim­ple syrup (equal parts sugar and water heated un­til the sugar melts and then cooled).

The liqueur and sour mix is shaken with ice and strained into a chilled martini glass that’s had the rim rubbed with a lemon wedge, then dipped in a bowl filled with a mix of cin­na­mon and sugar. Top it off with the prosecco and lemon gar­nish and you have a light but zesty drink.

One ob­vi­ous point that comes up with a sparkling wine mixer: Should you use the good stuff?

Sure, says Eileen Crane, di­rec­tor of wine­mak­ing at Do­maine Carneros, the Napa Val­ley pro­ducer known for its pre­mium sparklers. Just mix those drinks with a light hand. If you use some­thing good you don’t want to over­whelm it, and if you use some­thing bad — “What’s the point?” she asks.

So, the clas­sic Cham­pagne cock­tail of sparkling wine, sugar, cognac, a dash of An­gos­tura bit­ters and a twist of lemon, gets re­done as sparkling wine with the bit­ters and the twist of lemon, lime or or­ange, but no sugar or cognac.

In sum­mer, Crane likes to drink Do­maine Carneros Brut Rose with just a sliver of peach in it, which brings out the peach aro­mas al­ready in the wine. This time of year she adds a tea­spoon of pome­gran­ate juice to the Do­maine Carneros Brut and floats a few seeds on top for a pretty and fes­tive drink.

Prosecco and brut sparkling wine are good mix­ers, but you also can be a lit­tle bit ad­ven­tur­ous and search out dif­fer­ent types of bub­bles. And if you’re con­cerned about what hap­pens if you open a bot­tle of bubbly and then don’t use it all, don’t be, says Crane.Sparkling wine stop­pers are cheap, read­ily avail­able in kitchen stores, and do a great job of keep­ing in the fizz.

Given that there are about five glasses of wine in a bot­tle, you could come home and have a sparkling wine drink at day’s end for a week.

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