The Cocktail Diaries: Imbibe Magazine’s Play Mercy
It's warm for at least another week here in Portland, and even though I do like fall I'm going to fight it as long as I can. Because I like summer (and summer cocktails) even better.
Last week I did an original cocktail recipe, and this week I’m doing one of the very classic classics. There’s an entire world of champagne-based cocktails out there, and most of them are delicious. I am one of those people who enjoys a good glass of (DRY) sparkling wine any old day of the week, so to have it incorporated into a cocktail is just a bonus.
I hope you all have enjoyed these cocktail posts as much as I have enjoyed writing them, and of course drinking them. It’s been really fun to do something a little outside my normal repertoire.
The classic champagne cocktail is a lesson in simplicity. There are four ingredients, including the garnish. Five if you want to add a second bitters like I did below. It’s also a celebration of bitters. So often they are in the background of cocktails, but this recipe uses more than double what you might normally put in a drink, and the bitters become the main flavor. It makes me want to try it with other types of bitters – can you imagine how good this would be with say, rhubarb bitters?
A note on the “champagne” – I am a firm believer that you don’t need to have capital-C “Champagne” to enjoy a good glass of sparkling wine, and you don’t necessarily even need to stick to something made with méthode champenoise if you are just drinking it as wine. But for this cocktail, stay the heck away from sweet sparklings. Moscato and cava will not do. Get the driest méthode champenoise bottle you can find. After all, you are putting a teaspoon of sugar into it.
Speaking of the sugar: traditionally the recipe calls for a sugar cube. I looked into buying these at the store and the only box I could find had 200 sugar cubes that would probably be sitting in my cupboard for over a year. Not happening. So instead, I used a teaspoon of sugar. It turned out just fine. If anyone has a source on buying a small package of sugar cubes (besides stealing them from a diner), tell me in the comments.
Here’s what you need per cocktail:
– Dry sparkling wine – brut or better.
– 1 tsp. regular white sugar, or 1 sugar cube
– Angostura bitters
– Lemon bitters, if you have them on hand
– Twist of lemon
Begin by rubbing the outside of the lemon peel around the rim of the glass.
Place the sugar in the glass, then soak with Angostura bitters (3-4 dashes), with 1 or 2 dashes of the lemon mixed in if you are using them.
Slowly pour the champagne/sparkling wine over top, using the flow of the water to make sure the sugar is dispersed. Garnish with lemon twist.