I have a confession: the Lava Lamp is probably the most simple cocktail from my book The Bubbly Bar. And maybe for that reason, or the fact that people love the tangy mix of pomegranate and sparkling wine, it’s also the most popular. If you’ve never tried it, here’s the classic recipe:
The Lava Lamp
1 ounce Pama pomegranate liqueur
4 ounces brut sparkling wine
3 pomegranate seeds
Add the pomegranate liqueur to a champagne flute. Top with the brut sparkling wine. Garnish with the three pomegranate seeds.
I’m glad people still enjoy this cocktail, but I’ve created a few variations on it, and I thought you might like to try them. I’ve found that all sorts of tangy deep red winter fruit juices like blood orange, hibiscus, pomegranate juice, cranberry work well too and make a lower calorie drink. I’ve subbed PÃ¼r Spirits Blood Orange Liqueur for the alcohol. And I’ve changed up the garnishes as well. Use the formula below to make your own variation on this holiday drink.
1 to 1-1/2 ounces of either: PÃ¼r Blood Orange, pomegranate juice, cranberry juice, hibiscus juice, tart cherry juice, Cherry Heering Liqueur
3 pomegranate seeds or slivers of candied ginger, pickled cranberries, candied Meyer lemon peel, a candied hibiscus flower, a flavored cocktail foam
For a modernist (aka molecular cuisine inspired) take on the Lava Lamp, I topped it with a foam made with PÃ¼r Blood Orange Liqueur and pomegranate-cranberry juice. I know a lot of people have soda siphons like the iSi at home for making soft drinks; you can also use it to make a velvety foam to top cocktails. I mixed 1-1/2 cups of juice with 1/4 cup of the liqueur and 6 egg whites. Put it in a cold iSi soda siphon, charge it with one cartridge, then shake and chill.
I know entertaining can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. All you need, really, are a few fool-proof recipes, a relatively clean house and an outfit that makes you feel stunning.
My first rule of entertaining is to plan on opening a bottle of bubbly â€” either Champagne or sparkling wine â€” as soon as guests arrive. People get excited when they see that curvy bottle and hear the pop as it opens. It reminds them of good times and it will put them in the party mood. You can serve it straight, pour it into a punch or a sparkling cocktail.
Italy is a fabulous source of sparkling wine, as every prosecco lover knows. My greatest discovery from Italy this past year was Ferrari Metodo Classico. They’ve been quietly making fine bubbly that drinks like Champagne in the high in the hills near Trento not far from the Alps since 1902.
Sweet sparkling wines are always crowd-pleasers, whether it’s wildly popular classic Moscato d’Asti or one of the crop of new pink Moscatos and other sweet pink sparkling wines that are winning fans because of their cotton-candy hue and easy to love flavors of peach and melon. Last year I was surprised to by a well-balanced pink Moscato from Moldova; this year I succumbed and bought some of Torti’s Hello Kitty Sweet Pink. Though few are interested on what’s inside the cute bottle, it’s made with pinot noir from the Oltrepo Pavese region of Lombardy.
Shellfish of all sorts is delicious with sparkling wine because the wine’s acidity is like adding a squeeze of lemon to a shrimp or some cracked crab. A tray of nigiri and maki rolls from your favorite sushi spot is perfect with bubbly.
I’ve sipped a lot of sparkling wines in the past several years, but I was intrigued when I was invited to taste Ferrari sparkling wines. They’re from Italy, but they don’t make prosecco, Moscato or sports cars. Rather, Cantine Ferrarimakes fine, metodo classico (classic method) sparkling wine.
While I love discovering methode champenoise sparkling wines from around the world, I have a tendency â€” like others â€” to compare them to the sparkling wines of Champagne.Â The best champagne has this electricity to it, a combination of elegance and power.Â Few sparkling wines made elsewhere have this quality, but Ferrari Metodo Classico does.
As I took my first sip of the Ferrari NV Brut, I might have thought the toasty nose and bright golden apple flavor sprang from the famed chalky soils of Champagne. But Matteo Lunelli was sitting next to me in a private dining room at Sprucein Presidio Heights, eager to talk about the beauty of his family’s wines from Trentino-Alto Adige.
Besides the beautifully crafted wines, Ferrari has a good story, too. The winery was founded in 1902 by Giulio Ferrari, an enologist who studied at Montpelier in France and San Michele all’ Adige, a prestigious Northern Italian wine school. Ferrari was a big thinker who wanted to elevate wine from a rustic, agrigultural product to something more fine and artistic. He realized that the cool climate and rocky hillsides of the Trentino Alto Adige on the edge of the Alps would be perfect for growing chardonnay and pinot noir. Ferrari is credited as the first to plant chardonnay in Italy.
His wines were soon poured by the finest hotels and cruise ship lines in Italy. After 50 years of building his winery, Ferrari ended up without heirs. He turned to his friend Bruno Lunelli â€” a family man and wine merchant â€” and told him he should buy the winery and continue his legacy. And so he did in 1952, paying it off over the years.
“Excellence is not a single act, it is an attitude,” is a favorite Aristotle quote that Lunelli says guides his family’s wine-making philosophy.
So, it’s no surprise that Ferrari Metodo Classico is the toast of Italy, poured at the Italian president’s house and events like the Venice Film Festival and the World Cup. It’s also appreciated by American cognoscenti at spots like to A16 in San Francisco to Eataly in NYC.
And now that I know, about this game-changing Italian sparkling wine, I’ll be joining them.
Well, now that Halloween is here, the leaves are turning red and gold and it’s getting chilly, it’s officially fall. Things are changing at the market too, with autumn produce like pears, pomegranates,persimmons and pumpkins taking the place of summer berries and peaches.
As much as I like making drinks with summer fruit, I think the texture and deeper flavors in fall fruits can be just as appealing. The Pumpkin Pie Parfait cocktail recipe was inspired by the Thanksgiving dessert, but it actually has no pumpkin in it. I didn’t want to deal with the stringy texture in a drink, so I used Torani’s Pumpkin Spice Syrup instead. I like the syrups by the San Francisco company because they really capture the flavor of the natural fruit.
Garnish it with a lot of whipped cream or just a little depending on your taste. I like freshly grated nutmeg best for this drink because it has such a subtle flavor.
Pumpkin Pie Parfait
3/4 ounce Torani Pumpkin Spice Syrup
2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce Domaine de Canton Ginger liqueur
1 ounce fresh orange juice
Juice from 1/4 lemon
pinch fresh nutmeg
3 drops Angostura bitters
Add pumpkin spice syrup, bourbon, ginger liqueur,
orange and lemon juices, nutmeg and bitters to a
cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a deep champagne coupe or a martini glass.
Garnish with whipped cream and another pinch of nutmeg
Makes 1 cocktail
Champagne means so many different things to different people. On Champagne Day 2012, people are celebrating all the different expressions of this special sparkling wine from the Champagne region in France.
I haven’t been to Champagne, France in a few years, but one of my favorite Champagne experience here in California was the launch party for Perrier-JouÃ«t Champagne‘s new limited edition Belle Epoque Florale bottle.
We gathered in a chic, candelit private salon at Katsuya in Brentwood to sip Champagne and meet artist and famed Japanese floral designerÂ Makoto Azuma.Â His name may be new to Americans, but he’s well known in Japan and Europe for his avant-garde floral designs and pieces he’s created for Helmut Lang, Lady Dior and Shiseido.
Speaking through a translator, Azuma explained that he was inspired by the original Belle Epoque bottle designed by Emile Galle, his respect for nature and the delicate Japanese anemone flower. Azuma says he was also inspired by the sensation of bubbles jumping around on his palate and the smoothness of the wine and its complex taste.
For his new edition, he started with a stainless steel cube which represents artificial beauty created by man and filled it with Japanese blooms, calla lilies, phaelenopsis orchids and vines that symbolize nature.
“I wanted the work to be an homage to Galle,” Azuma said. “The flower language of the plants is quiet and sincere.”
Inside the bottle is the 2004 vintage of the Perrier-JouÃ«t Champagne. It tastes both rich and bright making it a perfect pairing for sushi or nothing at all.
You couldn’t have asked for a more picture-perfect day than Sunday when Iron Horse Vineyards celebrated the 2012 harvest. It was a sunny 80 degree day, with hardly a cloud in the sky â€” I even spotted a young deer lurking near a twisted oak as I drove up the 101.
Sometimes pictures tell a story better than words… so here are some images that capture the effervescence of Sunday’s party.
After parking under oak trees, we walked up a pathway lined with zinnias in decorate bubbly bottles.
At the end of the walk, guests were greeted with an Iron Harvest harvest cocktail of fresh pinot noir juice in the 2007 Brut X.
After noshing at Chef Ciara Meany’s bruschetta bar filled with grilled Costeaux French Bakery ciabatta, heirloom tomates from Barry Sterling’s garden, pesto, grilled bacon and other seasonal toppings, we sat down at two long tables set in a V-shape. Joy Sterling, president of Iron Horse, praised her brother Lawrence for his work running the winery, toasted her parents on the occasions of their 60th anniversary and thanked friends and Corral Club members for coming.
I loved the simple place settings topped with sprigs of lavender, the plates that look like this season’s fashionable jacquard prints and the Laguiole-inspired cutlery.
The first course was a lovely salad of fresh field greensÂ â€” again from the estate garden â€” topped with pickled radishes, roasted sweet corn and Laura Chenel goat cheese followed by a delicious grilled quail stuffed with Swiss chard and sausage.
If you’ve never visited Julia Child’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian, stop by the next time you’re in Washington, D.C. I think the kitchen reveals more about a person than any other room in the house, and Julia’s is no exception.
The exhibit which recreates the kitchen where she created recipes for so many of her books. It’s relatively small, but carefully organized. Besides a well-used six-burner stove, there was a wall grid with an inventory for wine (including ’66 Chateau Margaux, Nuits St. George ’71 and a ’59 La Rioja Alta); a small dining table, and places for each pot, gadget and utensil, carefully outlined on the wall.
What brings warmth to the exhibit is Child’s lilting voice, coming from a TV monitor that plays various film clips. During my favorite segment, she’s telling the interviewer about her most prized kitchen gadgets, which include a champagne stopper.
To show off how well this one works, Child tells how Barbara Fairchild â€” then editor of Bon Appetit Magazine â€” had come for a visit.
They didn’t finish it, but thanks to Child’s trusty champagne stopper, the Dom still had its fizz three days later. I hope the other interviewer got to help her kill the bottle when the cameras were off.
I only got to interview Julia Child once â€” for an article on the true origins of the Caesar Salad â€” but she had a wonderful memory and was very excited to share what she knew with a young writer. I think perhaps that may be her most important legacy.
If you’ve ever been on a hot air balloon flight, at the end of the magnificent journey, you probably enjoyed a glass of sparkling wine or French champagne. But did you ever wonder how the custom of serving bubbly after a flight began?
AshleyMcCredie, a blogger and content coordinator for Cloud 9 Living, an experience gift company, shares the story of how the champagne toast got its start.
“In late July I was lucky enough to have the once-in-a-lifetime type opportunity of ahot air balloon ride. I didnâ€™t know much about hot air ballooning, and one thing that really stuck with me was the story behind the tradition of a champagne toast at the end of each flight.
My pilot, Jeff Meeker of Fair Winds, briefed us on the tradition and history behind the bubbly toast while presenting us all with a split of Korbel, a California sparkling wine. When I came home I wanted to dive more into the facts and story behind this, and hereâ€™s what I found.
The creation of the hot air balloon dates back to the 1700s, and the first flight occurred on Oct. 19, 1783 in France.
In 18th century France, there were educated people living in the city and there were landowners and peasants in the country. People in the rural areas often had little contact and connection to what was going on in the city.
So, picture this, you are a peasant working in the fields and all of the sudden you see this balloon floating through the air with fire coming out of it. Is it an alien? An attacker? For peasants who hadn’t heard of hot air ballooning,Â the sight of a balloon falling from the sky surprised and often frightened them; especially when they saw the pilotâ€™s face covered in black from ash and soot from the fire keeping the balloon aloft.
To avoid being attacked by the people they surprised, hot air balloon pilots carried Champagne or wine with them as a way to let onlookers know they were human and to thank them for the safe landing in their field.
Today, the toast often goes along with the Balloonistâ€™s Blessing:
The winds have welcomed you with softness
The sun has blessed you with its warm hands
You have flown so high and so well
That God has joined you in your laughter
and set you gently back into the loving arms of mother earth.
Â So, if you do take a flight, hopefully you’ll get to celebrate the experience with a toast and a cold glass of bubbly at the end!”
When she’s not hot-air ballooning, Ashley McCredie is a freelance blogger and writer, a photographer and a traveler. Follow her on Twitter at @ashleymccredie.Â
A couple summers ago dining with friends at Zazu in Santa Rosa, I spotted this recipe on the wall. I snapped a picture of it, so I could try it during peach season.
Duskie Estes and John Stewart, the chefs of Italian inspired Zazu, are known for their way with pork andBlack pig bacon. But they also make crazy-good wood-fired pizzas, seasonal pastas and desserts.
Technically, a Bellini is made with white peaches and prosecco, the light and fresh tasting dry sparkling wine from the Veneto. (Click to read more about prosecco on The Bubbly Girl.com.) This recipe features Moscato d’Asti, another popular Italian sparkling wine that’s sweeter and less bubbly.
Since Moscato naturally and has flavors and aromas of peaches and apricots, I’m guessing that’s why the Duskie and John chose it for this sorbet. They suggest their favorite Bonny Doon Moscato del Solo, but it works just fine with any good quality Moscato.
Zazu Bellini Sorbet
1-1/4 pounds ripe white peaches
1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup Moscato d’Asti