Bubbly Girl Drink of the Week: The Winter Shandy

The Winter Shandy features Crispin hard cider, Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur and Meyer lemonade.
I discovered the Shandy cocktail in Chicago, a tangy blend of lemonade and a local brew. I did think it odd that the bar – which shall remain nameless – was serving such a summery drink in October. A Shandy struck me as a perfectly refreshing summer cocktail

According to my historic cocktail books, Shandy is short for Shandygaff, which was a mix of beer and lemonade, according to Tom Bullock in his 1917 cocktail book Ideal Bartender. Sometimes it was done as a blend of beer and gingerbeer too,

I decided to create a version of this refreshing drink perfect for those sunny days in autumn and winter. Since the season means apples and citrus, I decided to use hard cider as a base for my cocktail since I’d been sampling Crispin’s Natural Hard Apple Cider which has a taste of a crisp apple soda finished with just a touch of natural honey. Crispin’s hard cider comes in a variety of styles from a cloudy old fashioned hard cider in a brown bottle to a clear and crisp brut style to a light hard cider for people who might be watching their weight. The lighter ones are designed to be served over ice, kind of like a soft drink.

I plucked a couple Meyer lemons off the tree, made up some lemonade and created this drink.

The Winter Shandy
2 to 3 ounces chilled Crispin’s Natural Hard Apple Cider
2 to 3 ounces fresh Meyer lemonade
1/2 ounce Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
small piece candied gingerroot
lemon zest, for garnish

Add the chilled cider and Meyer lemonade to a pilsner style flute or rocks glass. Add the ginger liqueur and stir to combine everything. Drop the candied gingerroot into the glass. Garnish with the lemon zest.

A Perfect Thanksgiving cocktail: The Lava Lamp

Lava Lamp
Lava Lamp

You could drink wine with your turkey… or maybe an artisanal beer. But wouldn’t a cocktail be more fun? Well, I’ve selected 3 great seasonal cocktails from The Bubbly Bar with refreshing, tangy and spicy flavors to perfectly complement your turkey dinner: The Ginger Snap, the pomegranate Lava Lamp and The Stiletto which offers subtle orange and cognac flavors.

The Ginger Snap and the Stiletto recipes are just for subscribers to my Bubbly Girl Chronicles newsletter. If you want to taste them, go to my web site and sign up for the newsletter to get the password to access these recipes. It’s totally free and fun!

In the spirit of giving, here’s the recipe for the super-popular Lava Lamp.

The Lava Lamp, a tangy blend of Pama pomegranate liqueur and brut sparkling wine does a great stand-in for cranberry sauce. The tart-sweet pomegranate will cut through the rich flavors in gravy, stuffing and turkey. It would also be tasty with a juicy slice prime rib. The bubbles in the sparkling wine make the pomegranate seeds rise and fall in the glass, giving this drink the appearance of a retro lava lamp. A flute with a long hollow stem shows off this effect best.

1 ounce Pama pomegranate liqueur or 3 tablespoons pomegranate juice
5 ounces brut sparkling wine
3 pomegranate seeds

Add pomegranate liqueur or pomegranate juice to a champagne flute. Fill glass with sparkling wine. Drop in the pomegranate seeds.

From: The Bubbly Bar: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion by Maria C. Hunt (Clarkson Potter, $16.99)

Bubbly Girl Drink of the Week: La Mattina Appassionata

Mattina Appassionata
I just did a fun Saturday morning radio interview with Mario Martnoli and Amy Strong of the “Food & Dining” show on KLAA AM 830 and are they ever Italo-philes! We talked about buying hand-blown champagne flutes in Venice, sipping cocktails made with Aperol and the Lemon Ice, a delicious digestif cocktail from The Bubbly Bar made with prosecco, vodka, lemon sorbet and fresh mint.

Our conversation got me thinking about all the lovely sparkling wines and liqueurs that come from Italy. When I’m mixing a cocktail, probably the first wine I think of is prosecco, the sparkling wine from the Veneto. Wines made from the prosecco grape have such a delicate quality with soft bubbles and hints of green apple, minerals and white flowers.

I recently received a sample of a new one called Passionne di Fiore.It’s a likable little wine, with lots of fresh green apple and hints of underripe peaches in its aroma. It’s a spumante style of prosecco, meaning it has about 4.5 to 5 atmospheres of pressure in the wine; a frizzante style of prosecco is softly sparkling and has just 2.2 to 2.5 atm of pressure. I also liked that it’s available in the 375 ml size which is perfect for making a couple cocktails for brunch.

The same company that makes Passionne di Fiore prosecco also makes a unique liqueur called Fragoli. It’s a wild strawberry liqueur that I wrote about here a few months ago after I discovered it at the W San Diego. Fragoli actually contains the little Italian wild strawberries called fragolini di bosco.

Since Mario, Amy and I were talking about good cocktails to serve to guests, I decided to create a brunch cocktail called La Mattina Appassionata (Passionate Morning in English) that mixes some of the flavors I love from Italy.

La Mattina Appassionata
1 ounce Fragoli
splash Aperol
juice of 1/2 tangerine
4 ounces prosecco

Add the Fragoli, Aperol and tangerine juice to a flute, straining out any seeds. Top with the chilled prosecco and serve immediately. Cin cin!

Isn’t it Grand? Champagne Tasting in San Diego

grower glasses smallThe Tour de Champagne – a fabulous tasting event that I just attended in Washington DC – hasn’t made its way to San Diego just yet. But we have an annual tasting that’s just as spectacular: Le Grand Champagne this Saturday Nov. 14 at the WineSellar & Brasserie.

This year, the pre-holiday tasting and appetizer pairing will feature 37 different marques (aka brands) of champagne and sparkling wines. They range from wines from small producers such as Charles Ellner and Bruno Paillard (check out the site if you love the movie Diva) to tête de cuvées by well known houses like Taittinger, Bollinger and Moët & Chandon. It’s not just NV brut; there will be several fine rose champagnes, the somewhat elusive Veuve Clicquot Demi Sec and Iniskillin’s amazing sparkling ice wine. Special pricing is being offered on Saturday for people who want to take their favorites home.

Matt Smith, the creative new chef at WineSellar & Brasserie, has created a delicious menu to enhance the different bubblies. Enjoy honeydew and grapes with delicate wines, lavender-scented goat cheese with crisp ones, celery root soup and crispy pancetta to pair with bold toasty champagnes and smoked salmon mousse with brut rosés.

The tasting is from 2 to 6 p.m at the WineSellar & Brasserie, 9550 Waples St. Suite 115 in Mira Mesa. Tickets are $85 per person or $70 for Wine Club members. For more reservations and more information, call 858-450-9557.

More Bubbly Book Fun in San Diego


The holidays are almost here, and admit it, you’re probably thinking about pulling out those same familiar recipes you make every year. I bet they’re good, but here’s an even better idea: join me for one of these three events in San Diego this month to pick up a bunch of new ideas and recipes for easy and delish drinks and party food.

Next Thursday Nov. 19 I’m teaching The Bubby Girl’s Ultimate Party Plan at the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Fest, which kicks off Nov. 18-22. We’ll be tasting great food like Mediterranean style lamb sliders, Alsatian Tarts and my super easy Posh Popcorn paired with deliciously affordable sparkling wines and seasonal cocktails from my new book The Bubbly Bar: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion.  Click here to buy your ticket and make sure you get a spot in this tasty and useful class for anyone who wants to be better at entertaining.

Bring your canvas shopping back and meet me at the Little Italy Mercato from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday Nov. 21. Pick up some free Bubbly Girl cocktail recipe cards and ingredients for your Thanksgiving dinner at the market at India and Date streets. Click here for a map to the area.  If you haven’t been before, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the mix of cool food artisans, farmers and restaurants at this urbane market.

And to help inspire you  just before Thanksgiving, join me at the ever-so-elegant Cafe Chloe for a pre-holiday party and book signing from 4 to 6 p.m. on Monday Nov. 23. This is a free event, so come down and share a glass of wickedly delicious Framboise Apricot Punch from The Bubbly Bar and nibble on appetizers including duck confit with caramelized shallots, housemade charcuterie and ahi niçoise  – all featured on Cafe Chloe’s delicious party platters.

We’ll also make it easy to get started with holiday gift buying- I’ll be signing copies of The Bubbly Bar and Cafe Chloe’s  just made a new batch of their gorgeous rose syrup that’s perfect in bubbly or an Italian soda. Never tasted it? Rose Royale cocktails  will be available for half-price.

An Underground Speakeasy: Midnight Bar San Diego Style

Ian Ward mixing Panhandler's Punch at a speakeasy night somewhere in San Diego. (Photo by Michael Esposito)

“It starts at 10. See you then. P.S. Don’t wear heels. ”

The text message inviting me to an underground cocktail speakeasy on a recent Sunday night was short, to the point and kind of mysterious. But I guess brevity fit occasion.

It told me to show up at an alley near Adams Avenue and between two  streets in Normal Heights. The password was zipper. So just after 11, I headed out to find the party. I don’t normally make a habit of driving down alleys. Besides not being very picturesque, I quickly discovered they’re net exactly linear. The alley ended in a T intersection with another one.

I decided to go right and spotted a shaggy guy standing in the alley talking on his cell. I went around the block and checked out the other end of the alley. Nothing there. On my second trip, the same guy was still standing there. So I rolled down the window and asked if he was there for the speak easy? He stepped forward with a smile and said “You’re looking for Zipper? I’m Zipper.”

I park and enter through a makeshift plywood gate. There’s a path covered with rough rock gravel illuminated by luminaria in white paper bags. I hear music coming from a building in front of me. Inside it’s dark too; the room s illuminated with little candles that show swaths of red, and yellow and green on the walls.

The first person I recognize is local bartender Ariana Johnson. She’s  is serving lemongrass infused Veev acai vodka, poured from  a delicate absinthe fountain. Her drink ware? A half lime rimmed in dehydrated honey crystals.

Then I spot Whisk’n’ladle Bartender Ian Ward along with Lucien Conner and Jen Queen of the nucleus of the nascent San Diego Bartender’s Guild. Ward — the ring leader —  stepped up and handed me a green Mickey’s Big Mouth. Malt liquor?? Well, not exactly. He’d made it into a Brass Monkey. The ghetto version of this drink aka a Poor Man’s Mimosa according to the Urban Dictionary is OJ and beer. Ward created his own with a mixture of passion fruit juice and chamomile. It was fragrant, lightly sweet and tart, a perfect summer’s day drink.

Next up in the cocktail tasting was the Panhandler’s Punch, an autumnal drink that starred organic apples and persimmons from Crow’s Pass Farm in Temecula. Ward imagined it as the kind of thing someone foraging around might be able to make  – as long as they also had Goldschlager, vodka and juniper berries handy.

The final drink  – an oddly enough my favorite for its creativity – was the Chorizo Margarita. Somehow, Ward captured the smoky paprika, peppery and herbal flavors – without the grease and the garlic. It was like drinking a light, tangy and slightly smoky  version  of a blood mary. I wouldn’t mind having one again.