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This month’s issue of New Jersey Monthly is all about cocktails. Here are some additional ideas if you'd like to add some sparkle to the holidays with a sparkling wine cocktail.
When making a sparkling wine cocktail, I choose a quality wine that I would drink on its own, but I do not go overboard with an expensive bottle. The mixers can mask the subtle aromas and flavors that allow producers to charge a premium price for their Champagne or sparkling wines. I don't want a $50 bottle of Champagne being overshadowed by a 2-cent squirt of lemon juice. Instead, I opt for sparkling wines in the $10 to $20 price range, such as a Cava from Spain, Prosecco from Italy or a sparkling wine from the U.S.
Here are a few of my favorite sparkling wine cocktails:
Spanish Fly - Chill a martini glass. Shake 2 ounces of vodka, 1/2 ounce of lemon juice and 1/2 ounce of Cointreau in a cocktail shaker. Pour into the glass and top with 3 ounces of Cava.
Classic Champagne Cocktail - Invented in 1899 and introduced at the New York cocktail competition that year, this drink was originally called the Business Brace. Place a sugar cube at the bottom of a Champagne flute and add 2-3 dashes of bitters until the cube is dissolved. Add 1 ounce of brandy and fill the glass with sparkling wine or Champagne.
Aperol Spritz - In a Champagne flute, pour 2 parts Aperol (a bitter orange liqueur), 3 parts Prosecco and a splash of chilled seltzer. Garnish with a lemon twist. This drink can also be served in a tall glass over ice.
Cham-Cham (aka Kir Imperial) - Pour 2/3 ounce of Chambord (a black raspberry liqueur) into a Champagne flute, fill the rest of the glass with sparkling wine or Champagne.
A 25-year veteran of the wine and hospitality industry, George Staikos is known for his role as an educator, sharing his passion for wine appreciation. He is the founder and president of the Educated Grape, a company specializing in interactive education programs and in-home wine entertaining for wine enthusiasts and companies. He is a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s International School of Hospitality Management, where he teaches “Introduction to the Study of Wine.” He is also Vice Echanson or regional wine director for the mid-Atlantic region for the Chaine des Rotisseurs, a worldwide food-and-wine organization.
Staikos is a graduate of Florida International University in Miami with a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. He is married with three children and lives in Flemington.