Springtime for Bubbly

Along with spring itself, sparkling cocktails are blooming all over.

Photo: iStock.

Some might trace the growing popularity of sparkling cocktails to Teresa Giudice, infamous star of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and her Fabellini line of fruit-flavored proseccos. Amanda Johns of Annata Wine Bar in Hammonton prefers to note that customers “see people drinking prosecco on TV all the time. They know the name more than cava or Champagne.”

Prosecco is Italian sparkling wine, cava is Spanish, and Champagne (cap C) is from that region of France. Johns says her cocktail, made with prosecco, St. Germain elderflower liqueur and Chambord black raspberry liqueur, is very popular with women.

The ur-sparkling cocktail—perfect for spring—is, of course, the Bellini, a combination of prosecco and peach purée invented in 1948 at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy. At Treno in Westmont, general manager Scott Weber makes several variations of the Bellini—one with white peach flavor (from Massenez crème de pêche), one with pear vodka and St. Germain, and one with pomegranate liqueur, pineapple juice and lime. In sales, he says, “our sparkling wine drinks are always in the top five of cocktails.”

For drinking on their own, well-made proseccos and cavas tend to be much more affordable than French Champagnes. Prosecco tends to have a richer, more fruit-forward flavor profile than Champagne. That, says Hudson Austin, a Philadelphia-based sommelier and consultant, also gives prosecco an edge as an element in savory or herbaceous, as well as sweet and semi-sweet, cocktails.

“You can make prosecco into an everyday drink,” Austin says. “Regular folks can order a cocktail, even guys who might view sparkling wines as feminine or dainty or whatever.”

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