Cocktail Recipe

Sparkling Wine Cocktails for the Summer

The Mimosa may be the most popular cocktail to make use of sparkling wine, but it’s hardly the most interesting. Farewell sad, sweaty carton of orange juice: Here are six easy-to-make sparkling cocktails that will add zest to summer parties.

Death in the Afternoon

Death in the Afternoon
Death in the Afternoon
This is attributed to Ernest Hemingway, who purportedly named it after his book on bullfighting.

He recommends pouring a jigger of absinthe in a glass of Champagne, and downing three to five of the drinks in succession. Here’s a more refreshing—and less intoxicating—version. Absinthe even in these proportions still rules the drink. If you can find it, try the St. George Absinthe Verte. Brut Champagne and Champagne-style wines work best here.

¾ ounce absinthe
4 ounces Brut Champagne

Pour the absinthe into a flute, and then fill with sparkling wine.

Aperol Spritz

In Venice, locals sip Aperol spritzes in the piazza as the sun goes down. Served on ice, sometimes with an olive for a salty edge, they’re perfect bittersweet refreshment. The splash of soda is optional, but it helps preserve the bubbles as the ice melts. For a bitterer version, substitute Campari for Aperol.

Aperol Spritz
Aperol Spritz
Do as the Venetians do and pop a bottle of Prosecco—its off-dry flavors compliment the bittersweet Aperol like no other.

3 ounces Prosecco
2 ounces Aperol
1 ounce soda water
1 orange slice

Combine ingredients in a wine glass, give a quick stir and then fill with ice; garnish with a slice of orange.

French 75

This is named after the French 75-millimeter field gun used in WWI; given the French connection, some argue that Cognac or brandy should be used in place of gin. But gin seems to harmonize better with sparking wine. (Use something like Plymouth, which has a softer profile of coriander and citrus, rather than a juniper-heavy bruiser.) The unorthodox dash of orange bitters lengthens the finish.

French 75
French 75
It’s important to use a sparkling wine that has strong effervescence—enough to punch through the gin and citrus; Champagne is the standard but a bright, citrus-forward Brut Cava works well, too.

1 ounce Plymouth Gin
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce simple syrup (1:1)
1 dash orange bitters
3 ounces Brut Cava
1 strip lemon peel

Combine the lemon juice, simple syrup and orange bitters in a cocktail shaker and shake. Strain into a flute or coupe and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a lemon peel, pinching it first to express the oils over the drink before dropping it in.

The Stratosphere

This first appeared in Lucius Beebe’s The Stork Club Bar Book, a collection of recipes from a Manhattan supper club once frequented by stars like Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe.

Stratosphere
Stratosphere
The Rothman & Winter Crème de Violette is dense and rich—feel free to cut it back to a quarter or even and eighth of an ounce for a more nuanced cocktail. The clove garnish blends well with a toasty, pinot noir-dominant Crémant de Bourgogne. Or accentuate the Crème de Violette with a sparkling chenin blanc. 

4 ounces sparkling wine
½ ounce Rothman & Winter Crème de Violette
1 strip lemon peel
2 cloves

Pour sparkling wine into a flute and add the Crème de Violette. Twist a lemon peel over the drink and discard. Garnish with two cloves.

Poinsettia

Poinsettia
Poinsettia
Usually relegated to Christmas parties, this also makes a refreshing summertime sipper. Some recipes call for vodka, but that tends to flatten the drink. Dry Curaçao works well here: It’s aromatic but not as cloying as most orange liqueurs (for an even drier version, try Campari). This drink needs to be tart and mouth-puckering—find a juice that’s as close to 100 percent cranberry juice as possible. Sweet versions won’t cut it.

4 ounces sparkling wine
½ ounce cranberry juice
½ ounce Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
1 strip orange peel

Pour two ounces of the sparkling wine into a flute and add the juice and Curaçao. Top with the rest of the sparkling wine. Twist the orange peel over the glass and drop it in.

 

Sgroppino

Sgroppino
Sgroppino
From Northern Italy, this drink is usually served after a meal.

The effervescence of the bubbly wine interacts with the icy sorbet to create an electric texture. How to blend is the question. Hand whisking is the most traditional method, but that probably doesn’t help maintain bubbles and texture any better than carefully using the pulse function of a blender. The main thing is to find a quality sorbet. A little vodka helps to bring out the lemon flavor while toning down the sweetness.

2 scoops lemon sorbet
3 ounces Prosecco
1 ounce vodka
Pinch of lemon zest

Combine the ingredients in a blender. Pulse until mixed thoroughly. Pour into an ice cream soda glass or a coupe. Garnish with a pinch of lemon zest.

This recipe is a W&S web exclusive.
 photo by Allee Pitaccio