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Bubbly Girl Cocktail Recipes, Drinks

The Bubbly Girl Drink of the Week: Sparkling Strawberry Summer Sangria

June 19, 2011

This Sparkling Strawberry Summer Sangria stars everybody’s favorite berry, apricots and brachetto, the sweet-tart red sparkling wine from Italy that tastes of roses, currants and raspberries.

Summer is almost upon us, so I figured it was time to start concocting one of my favorite styles of summer drinks: sangria.

Sangria, which takes its name from the Spanish word for blood, is usually a mix of red wine, fruit, spirits and a little spice.  But really, any inexpensive wine — red, white, or bubbly — can be the start of delicious sangria, as I learned while travelling through Spain’s cava sparkling wine region. Gareth of Mont Marçal Cava shared his Spanish sangria recipe that works equally well with red or white wine.

They can be made year-round with whatever fruit you have on hand, but to me sangrias are most delicious in summer, when they showcase fleeting gems like apricots, white cherries and ripe berries. One of my favorite sangria recipes ever is this Apricot & White Cherry Sangria I created a couple seasons ago.

Best of all, if you’re hosting a party, sangrias are crowd-pleasers – even people who claim not to like sweet drinks will be back for another fruity glass. The trick is achieving a balance between the sweet, tart and spirited elements in your mix.

Last weekend I discovered a bargain bottle of brachetto, a sweet-tart sparkling wine from Piedmont, Italy at a store called Grocery Outlet. Priced at just $7.99 this wine bursting with aromas and flavors of raspberries, strawberries and roses begged to be mixed with fruits in a sangria. So I gave in.

Sparkling Summer Strawberry Sangria

1 cup Limoncello liqueur

1 cup apricot liqueur

1 cup fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered

1/2 cup fresh raspberries

4 ripe apricots, cut in slivers

4 key limes, thinly slices

¼ cup lime juice

1 bottle brachetto Italian sparkling wine, chilled

1/2 bottle peach sparkling cider

3 shakes orange bitters

whole strawberries, for garnish

If you’re starting your sangria a few hours or the night before you plan to serve it, combine the Limoncello, apricot liqueur, strawberries, raspberries, apricots, limes , and lime juice in a glass pitcher. Just before serving, add the chilled brachetto and the sparkling cider. Garnish the glasses with a whole strawberry.

Makes 6 to 8 servings


© 2011 By Maria Hunt aka The Bubbly Girl


Champagne, Drinks, Shopping

Real champagne for $20? Mais oui if you know where to shop

June 13, 2011

Champagne Didier Chopin, a real brut rosé from the Champagne region of France, was one of the bargains I found at Grocery Outlet in Oakland this weekend.

For the past few weeks, a new friend has been telling me about the wine bargains he finds at a placed called Grocery Outlet. Actually, he calls it Gross Out, so  can’t say I had been in a hurry to get over there. But when he brought a couple white wines to dinner that were surprisingly good, my curiosity got the best of me.

It looks like a bodega outside, with bins piled high with oranges and mini watermelons. Inside, racks are piled equally high with everything from toilet paper and toothpaste to flower pots. I snagged some organic baby green mix in the produce section, then went to track down the wine. Along the way I noticed a very extensive cheese section, where a woman explained to her friend what “ricotta salata” was.

On the display opposite the cheese, I spotted my first wines. I picked up an Italian one in a familiar berry shade of magenta. The label said Casorzo D.O.C. Ricossa Antica Casa.  The description on the back read: “a semi-sweet sparkling frizzante style wine of fragrant floral aromas with hints of rose petal and a soft smooth taste.”

That description told me I had found a wine that contained some brachetto, the red grape from Piedmont typically made into sweetly balanced sparklers with distinctive rose and berry aromas and flavors. A wine with word brachetto on the label will usually run $18 to $22. Grocery Outlet was selling it for $7.99 – perfect for making sangria.

There’s some brachetto blended into this Italian dessert wine that was just $7.99.

In the wine aisle, I spotted all kinds of wine, mostly unfamiliar. Many of the wines were blends, such as the Spanish white Pazo de Monterey that my friend had brought to dinner. It was marked $2.99 here, but drank much better. A Google search revealed that the blend of treixadura and godello grapes that had soft apple and floral aromas sells for $9 to $12 around the country.

But in the refrigerated wine case, I found the real bargains. Among a bunch of half bottles of botryitized semillon from Australia – a super bargain at $9.99 -  I spotted a few bottles of rosé sparkling with the name “Champagne Didier Chopin” and “product of France.” I didn’t know this wine either, but that doesn’t mean much since there are hundreds of smaller producers in Champagne that never make a name in the US.

I Googled the name from my phone and learned that Msr. Chopin started making wines in the Vallée de la Marne nearly 20 years ago. His brut rosé sells for around $55 in U.K. He’s a négociant -manipulant, meaning that he buys pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes and then fashions them into wine. We savored this fruity deep pink wine with its bold berry flavors and aromas. Even more delightful was picking it up for $19.99 at Grocery Outlet.

I’ll definitely be going back for more.




Drinks, Wine + Food Pairing

Great Ideas for Last Minute Valentine’s Day Drinks & Food

February 14, 2011

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Even if you already celebrated Valentine’s Day over the weekend, it’s nice to extend the love-fest one more day, no? So if you’re still trying to think of a special and easy to treat your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day, you’re in luck. I’ve put together a slide show of some of my favorite pink foods and drinks — along with simple recipes and wine pairing suggestions.

Most of the recipes have appeared at some time or another on The Bubbly Stop by the recipes section for the Kismet Cocktail, Raspberry Royale cocktail, the Chocolate Corks, which are airy but chocolaty and moist since they start with a yeast-based chocolate dough.

To make the super-simple and classic Jack Rose cocktail, add 1 ounce Pama pomegranate liqueur, two ounces applejack (or Calvados if you can’t find it) and the juice of half a lime to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake it until your hands are really cold, then strain it into a smallish martini glass.

You could pick up ingredients for most of these recipes at Trader Joe’s, along with the super-affordable Blason Cremant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé, which comes from Burgundy. The Italian sparkling dessert wine Brachetto d’Acqui is getting more and more popular; it’s usually at BevMo or a larger liquor stores with a decent wine department.

Cin cin!

Bubbly Girl Cocktail Recipes, Cocktail Recipes

Two Sparkling Sangria Recipes for Mother’s Day Weekend

May 6, 2010
Sangria makes a perfect way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo weekend, especially when it's one like this with fresh berries and the Italian sparkling wine Brachetto or it's made in the traditional Spanish-style.

Sangria makes a perfect way to celebrate Mother’s Day weekend, especially when it’s one like this with fresh berries and the Italian sparkling wine Brachetto or it’s made in the traditional Spanish-style.

It’s hard to feel like celebrating when Cinco de Mayo falls smack dab in the middle of the week. And then the next thing you know, here comes Mother’s Day.  I see no reason why you shouldn’t roll the two celebrations into one by mixing up a pitcher of wickedly delicious sangria that everyone in the family will love.

With fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries coming into season, a perfect way to use them is in this Ruby Red Sangria that’s included in my book The Bubbly Bar.  Instead of a dry red wine, the base of this one is brachetto, a sweet tart sparkling wine from Piedmont Italy. It tastes of raspberries and roses and was a favorite tipple even in ancient times.

The inspiration for this recipe came from Tom Mastricola, a fabulous mixologist originally from Boston who served it at the pool deck at Arterra in the San Diego Marriott Del Mar. It’s refreshing but has a way of sneaking up on you with the crème de cassis and cognac.

I’ll be showing how to make my Ruby Red Sangria and a Sangria Blanca made with the Spanish sparkling wine cava and sharing some great  summer drink tips  as the guest mixologist June 5 & 6 at the Sunset Magazine’s Celebration Weekend 2010. More than 20,000 people will be flocking to the magazine’s gorgeous campus in Menlo Park to pick up inspiration and ideas on summer cooking, home entertaining, and gardening. The event sells out, so book early if you want to get tickets.

Ruby Red Sangria

This fragrant sangria stars fresh summer raspberries, blueberries and strawberries with the sweet -tart red sparkling wine from Piedmont, Italy called Brachetto d’Acqui.The cognac and crème de cassis add an extra layer of depth and flavor.

16 raspberries
16 blueberries
16 strawberries
1 cup Landy cognac, chilled
1/2 cup crème de cassis
1/2 cup Homemade Sour Mix
1/4 cup orange juice
1 bottle Brachetto d’Acqui, chilled
8 slices orange
8 slices lemon

Add the berries to a cocktail shaker and muddle them to a juicy pulp. Transfer the muddled berries and juice to a pitcher. Add the cognac, crème de cassis, sour mix and orange juice. Stir well to combine. Just before serving, add the chilled Brachetto to the pitcher. Fill the serving glasses halfway with crushed ice. Add an orange slice and lemon slice to each glass, then fill with the sangria.
Makes 8 servings

Mont Marcal winery is set in a 17th century masia ( Catalan farmhouse) where nuns called the Barefoot Carmelites once lived.

Mont Marçal winery is set in a 17th century masia ( Catalan farmhouse) where nuns called the Barefoot Carmelites once lived and made wine. (The Bubbly Girl)

I recently picked up some more ideas about sangria while travelling in the Penedès region southwest of Barcelona, which is the center of Spain’s cava sparkling wine production. Gareth York, the Brit export manager for Mont Marçal Cava — available all over the U.S. —  shared his own recipe for a Spanish-style sangria. The secret ingredient is European Lemon Fanta, which he says adds just the right sweet tart flavor.

Gareth’s Sangria

1 750 ml bottle cava (or decent red wine)

750 ml European Lemon Fanta
3/4 cup ruby port wine
1 small glass of brandy or cognac
1 orange, washed, pitted and sliced
1 lemon, washed, pitted and sliced
1 apple, washed, pitted and sliced
1 ripe peach, washed, pitted and sliced

Mix all the liquids together in a large pitcher, add the fruit and macerate in the fridge for four to five hours. Don’t add too much ice as this waters the sangria down. The Lemon Fanta works well as it has a nice balance of sugar and acidity and there is no need to add sugar. The proportions of the wines and Fanta are approx. if you want it to have more of a kick then add a bit less Fanta.

What is important is that the wines are of a decent quality and drinkable. I always said when I was in the kitchen, if you put good wine in a dish, it will be good – if you put a bad wine in a dish it won’t get any better!!

Bubbly Girl Cocktail Recipes, Sparkling Wine

Prosecco & Great Italian Bubbly for $20 or Less

February 17, 2009
Prosecco is brightened by muddled lemons, limes and tangerines and limoncello in this refreshing cocktail.

Prosecco is brightened by lemons, limes and tangerines and limoncello in this refreshing cocktail I call Il Sorrentino. Keep reading for the recipe.

Sipping our bubbly with sushi one day, my friend Lyndsay told me that on her last trip to Las Vegas, a bartender told her that all Italian sparkling wine isn’t Prosecco. She wasn’t convinced, so she asked moi, The Bubbly Girl.

While Prosecco, which comes from the Veneto region and stars in the famous Bellini from Harry’s Bar is quite famous, there are lots of other sparkling wines from Italy. In fact, Italy makes more different sparkling wines than any other country. And with one exception, all the Italian bubblies in this post can be had for less than $20 a bottle.

Probably the most elegant sparkler from Italy is the one that many people have yet to discover: Franciacorta. It’s crisp, elegant and has a toasty aged flavor, very similar to champagne. Try to look for Franciacorta from Ca’ del Bosco, considered one of the best producers in Lombardy; their wines start at about $39.

The Ca' de Bosco Franciacorta is made in Lombardia by Maurizio Zanella.

The Ca' de Bosco Franciacorta is made in Lombardia by Maurizio Zanella.

For a lusty dry red sparkling wine that’s great with pork and richer dishes, then look no further than Lambrusco from Emilia-Romagna. The U.S. market was flooded with very inexpensive and rather simple Lambruscos for a long time, but now there’s good stuff readily available by brands like Ca’ de Medici, thanks to efforts of Lambrusco fans like Mario Batali throwing their weight behind it. I found a recipe for a Lambrusco Hot Wine Punch at

If you like sweet sparklers, then you must try Moscato d’Asti, the refined and gently sparkling wine from Piedmont. Sometime back in college, you probably already met Moscato d’Asti’s more fruity, bubbly and casual cousin Asti that sells verrry affordably at most grocery stores. My favorite Moscatos include the Nivole by Michele Chiarlo and Saracco. Here’s a great dessert recipe from Martha Stewart Living for Ruby Red Grapefruit in Moscato.

During a tasting at ENO in the Hotel Del Coronado, the Pineto Brachetto was paired with artisanal chocolates.

During a tasting at ENO in the Hotel Del Coronado, the Pineto Brachetto was paired with artisanal chocolates.

Piedmont is also home to a  great rosso spumante called Brachetto d’Acqui. The brachetto is an ancient grape – it was one of Cleopatra’s favorites – that tastes like cranberry, raspberry and rose and is balanced between tangy and sweet. Look for wines by Marenco Pineto and Banfi’s Rose Regale. Try this delicious sounding Brachetto Holiday Punch spiked with cognac and Aperol from The Red Cat in NYC.

When it comes to mixing cocktails though, My favorite Italian bubbly is Prosecco, which is featured in many of the recipes in my new book The Bubbly Bar: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion being released by Clarkson Potter in August. Here’s the recipe for Il Sorrentino, the drink pictured at the top of this post.

Il Sorrentino
Makes 1 cocktail

My friend Antonino put up pictures of the beautiful lemons and oranges that grow around his native Sorrento, Italy when he opened Arrivederci, the first in his San Diego restaurant empire. Sorrento is also thought to be the birthplace of Limoncello, a digestif made with lemon peels, sugar and vodka.

3 thin slices lemon
3 thin slices lime
3 thin slices tangerine
2 leaves lemon balm (or mint)
1 ounce Limoncello
½ ounce sour
5 ounces Prosecco

Add citrus and lemon balm to a rocks glass and muddle. Add Limoncello and sour and stir. Fill glass three-quarters with ice. Top with Prosecco. Garnish with slices of lemon, lime and tangerine.