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Bubbly Events, Bubbly Girl Cocktail Recipes

Sangria Celebration and a Bit of History

June 5, 2010
Sangria means anything you want it to; in late spring mix up a pitcher of this Apricot White Cherry Sangria.

Sangria means anything you want it to; in late spring mix up a pitcher of this Apricot White Cherry Sangria.

So in just a few hours, I’ll be appearing at  Sunset Magazine’s Celebration Weekend to share some tips for making the delicious Ruby Red Sangria and Sangria Blanca from my book The Bubbly Bar. Even though I don’t go on until 4:30 p.m. – happy hour! – I’m looking forward to going over and seeing some of the other presenters  like Aaron McCargo Jr of Big Daddy’s House, Guillaume Bienaime of Marché Restaurant, Sunset Magazine Food Editor Margo True and Roy Choi, the genius behind the crazy-good, cross cultural  Kogi Korean BBQ food truck in Los Angeles.

Preparing for my segment on sangrias, I started doing some research on the history of the drink. We all know the typical red sangria that’s at every Spanish restaurant in the country – red wine, lemon soda, apples, oranges and if you’re lucky some good brandy. On a recent trip to Spain’s cava region, I collected an authentic recipe from the Mont Marçal Cava export manager named Gareth York – he says the trick to making it sing is the Lemon Fanta.

It’s true that sangria comes from Spain. The root word in it is sangre – Spanish for blood and a reference to the deep red color. But sangria is well established here in the U.S. too. It turns out that since the early 1800s, Brits and later Americans started making their own version of sangria that was called sangaree. According to cocktail historian David Wondrich in Imbibe! this drink was usually a mix of port, sherry or Madeira mixed with sugar, water and nutmeg.It wasn’t uncommon to find sangarees made with a base of porter, ale, and even brandy.

Jerry Thomas’ Port Wine Sangaree

4 ounces Port wine

1 teaspoon sugar

grated nutmeg

Add the Port and sugar to a cocktail shaker filled two-thirds with ice. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a small bar glass, then top with the freshly grated nutmeg.

I think the reason sangria or sangarees continue to be so popular in America is that there’s not just one way to make them. They’re a drink that allows any bartender or home entertainer to show off their personality or make up a new one to fit the season. Last summer, I created a fun White Elderflower Berry Sangria with St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, every berry at the market and white cherries.   And as soon as apricots appeared, I whipped up another drink called an Apricot White Cherry Sangria that is just fragrant with apricot liqueur and fresh fruit. Trust me, this one is so good, it bears repeating.

Apricot & White Cherry Sangria

Makes 8 servings

8 fresh apricots, cut in quarters

1 cup white cherries, pitted and halved

1 white Asian pear, cored and diced

1 lemon halved and thinly sliced in half moons

Juice of 1 orange or 2 tangerines

1/2 cup Rothman & Winter Apricot Orchard Liqueur

1/2 cup Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur (at BevMo)

1/2 cup Landy Cognac

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon orange bitters

1 bottle brut sparkling wine, well chilled

handful fresh mint, torn

Add the apricots, cherries, Asian pear, lemon slices and orange or tangerine juice to a large pitcher. Top with the apricot brandy, Maraschino and Cognac. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. You could let the sangria sit for a while in the refrigerator at this point so the fruit has some time to soak and release its flavors. Or if you’re in a hurry, next add the orange bitters and sparkling wine to the pitcher. Add a cup of crushed ice, since this is a pretty potent sangria or you could add another bottle of sparkling wine if you want it to serve more people. Top with the freshly torn mint and serve by ladling some fruit into each glass and then pouring sangria on top.

By Maria Hunt aka The Bubbly Girl, author of The Bubbly Bar: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion (Clarkson Potter, August 2009)

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

Bubbly Girl Drink of the Week: Sangria de Cava at Columbia Restaurant in Tampa

August 8, 2009
Sangria de cava, made from the sparkling wine from Spain, is a house specialty at the historic Columbia Restaurant in Tampa, Fla. (Photo by Maria C. Hunt)

Sangria de cava, made from the sparkling wine from Spain, is a house specialty at the historic Columbia Restaurant in Tampa, Fla. (Photo by Maria C. Hunt)

If you find yourself in Tampa, Fla. for a few days, chances are you’ll end up at the restaurant Columbia. A Spanish/Cuban restaurant in the Ybor City area, Columbia has been in business since 1905, making it the oldest restaurant in the state of Florida.

It’s a vast space with curved arches over the bar, indoor fountains and an extensive glass-walled wine room that showcases many wines from Spain and California. The restaurant is famous for its 1905 salad made from a trademarked recipe, deviled crab croquettes, paella and simple Cuban style dishes like ropa vieja served with perfectly sweet fried plantains and rice.

Scanning the drink menu, I wanted to order the pitcher of Sangria de Cava — and my adventurous friend Melonyce agreed to split it with me. I love white sangria and I created my own version in my book The Bubbly Bar: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion that’s available now on Cava is the sparkling wine from Spain, typically crafted from the local grapes xarel-lo, macabeo and parellada using the same methods as champagne. Columbia uses Cristalino Brut Cava, which is crisp with lemon and apple flavors, a hint of minerality and nice bubbles. Made in Spain’s Penedes region by Jaume Serra winery, Cristalino is very easy to find in your local wine shop and a favorite of many for its quality and affordable price – usually under $10.

Our waiter brought out all the ingredients including a half bottle of Cristalino Brut Cava and then mixed the white sparkling sangria table-side. As he worked, I jotted down the recipe for Columbia’s Sangria de Cava.

Columbia’s Sangria de Cava

2 flat wheels of orange, cut in half
4 flat wheels of lime, cut in half
2 flat wheels of lemon, cut in half
1 shot orange liqueur
1 shot brandy
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lemon and lime juice combined
1 shot simple syrup (see note)
1/2 bottle brut cava
2 maraschino cherries

Add orange, lime and lemon slices to a sturdy glass pitcher. Using a wooden spoon or a muddler, smash the fruit to release its juices. Add the orange liqueur, brandy, juices and simple syrup to the pitcher. Stir and then top off with the chilled cava. Garnish each glass with a maraschino cherry.
Note: To make simple syrup, mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1 cup water in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Let cool and store in a clean bottle for up to two weeks. It’s an easy way to sweeten tea and lemonade without any pesky sugar crystals.
Serves 2 people.

Bubbly Girl Cocktail Recipes

The Best Red, White and Blue Berry Drinks for the 4th of July

June 30, 2009
A martini with Strawberry Rosemary Lemonade (Photo by Maria Hunt)

A martini with Strawberry Rosemary Lemonade and a blooming sprig of fresh rosemary (Photo by Maria Hunt)

I thought it would a fun challenge to create three summer berry cocktails – one red, one white and one blue – for the 4th of July. So I went out and bought every type of berry I could- raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries- along with white cherries and got to work.

July is National Berry Month and right now all these berries are super sweet and very affordable, even the organic ones from Driscoll, a huge family owned berry company in central California. Besides being delicious, berries are one of nature’s superfoods. They’re low in calories and packed with Vitamin C, fiber and all sorts of antioxidants, plant substances that fight ailments like cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure. Studies have shown that the purplish-blue hue of  blueberries and  blackberries means they have particular helpful plant chemicals, while red berries like strawberries and raspberries are loaded with other good antioxidants.

The RED cocktail is a Strawberry Rosemary Lemonade that started with a simple syrup flavored with fresh rosemary from my garden mixed with juice from fresh organic strawberries. It’s easier if you have a juicer, but if you don’t just puree the berries in a blender and strain. Once you’ve created this syrup, you’ll find it useful as a base for all manner of drinks or to drizzle over vanilla ice cream. Start with 1.5 ounces of Strawberry Rosemary Syrup and, according to your taste:

  • Mix with sparkling water for a tangy Italian style soda
  • Add regular water for lemonade
  • Add water and freeze the lemonade to make popsicles.
  • Drizzle it into a glass of champagne or sparkling wine
  • Mix with 2 ounces gin, vodka or white rum and shake over ice to create a martini
  • Blend with 2 ounces tequila and ice to make an unforgettable margarita

Strawberry Rosemary Lemonade
Makes 3 cups syrup

1 cup fresh strawberry juice
1 cup lemon and/or lime juice
1 cup Rosemary Syrup (see below)

Combine the strawberry juice with the lime or lemon juice and the Rosemary Syrup. Pour into a clean bottle and cap. Syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. To make Rosemary Syrup, mix two cups water with one cup granulated sugar in a pot over medium heat. Bring it to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add needles from 4 sprigs fresh rosemary and simmer for a couple minutes, then turn off the heat and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain the syrup.

Berry White Elderflower Sangria (Photo by Maria C. Hunt)

White Elderflower Berry Sangria (Photo by Maria C. Hunt)

The WHITE cocktail is a White Elderflower Berry Sangria that’s spiked with St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur made from these fragrant white flowers that bloom in the French Alps and every berry I could find. The bitters add a note of complexity while the lemon juice keeps it from being too sweet. The secret to good sangria is time. The fruit needs time to sit in the liqueur and absorb its flavors and vice versa, so if at all possible, start your sangria the day before you plan to serve it.

White Elderflower Berry Sangria
Makes 6 servings

1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup raspberries
1 cup white cherries, halved and pitted
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup blackberries
1 cup St. Germain White Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 cup gin or vodka
1/4 cup orange liqueur like Cointreau
1/4 cup Homemade Sour Mix (see Recipes page)
2 teaspoons orange bitters
1 bottle brut sparkling wine, well-chilled
handful fresh mint, torn

Add the strawberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries and blackberries to a large pitcher. Top with the St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, gin or vodka and orange liqueur. Let sit for a few hours in the refrigerator or overnight if possible. Or if you’re in a hurry, add the sour mix, orange bitters and sparkling wine to the pitcher. Add a cup of crushed ice. Top with the freshly torn mint and serve by ladling some fruit into each glass and then pouring sangria on top.

The Blue Basil Fizz (photo by Maria C. Hunt)

The Blue Basil Fizz with a African Blue Basil garnish (photo by Maria C. Hunt)

The BLUE drink isn’t technically blue as that shade really doesn’t exist in nature. The Blue Basil Fizz is more of an inky purple thanks to all those antioxidants in blackberries and blueberries. These berries shine when mixed with Chambord black raspberry liqueur imported from France and muddled with fresh basil. Top it off with prosecco, the light sparkling wine from Italy for the refreshing fizz.

Blue Basil Fizz
Makes 1 cocktail
6 blueberries
4 blackberries
3 leaves basil
splash Homemade Sour Mix (see Recipes page)
1 ounce Chambord
3 to 4 ounces prosecco, well chilled
sprig basil for garnish
drinking straw (optional)

In a heavy pint glass or mixing glass, add the blueberries, blackberries, basil and Homemade Sour Mix. Muddle until the mixture is very pulpy and fragrant. Pour it into a tall Collins style glass. Add the Chambord and fill three-quarters with ice. Top off with prosecco and garnish with the sprig of basil and a straw.

Cocktails created by Maria Hunt aka The Bubbly Girl, author of The Bubbly Bar: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion on

Bubbly Girl Cocktail Recipes

La Dolce Vita: 5 Great Prosecco Cocktails for Spring

April 20, 2009
The Strawberry Smash is a refreshing spring cocktail with strawberries, prosecco and your favorite fresh herb.

The Strawberry Smash is a refreshing spring cocktail with strawberries, prosecco and your favorite fresh herb.

I just came back from a trip to Puglia in Southern Italy, and found the people there to be warm and fiercely proud of their regional wines like Salice Salentino, their orecchiette pasta and fragrant local olive oils. But curiously, when it came to sparkling wine, their drink of choice was usually prosecco from northern Italy.

As a Bubbly Girl, I was in heaven, being able to order a glass of this delicate and fresh wine from the Veneto just about everywhere and usually for just 2 or 3 euro ($3 to $4.50). Why can’t it be that way here in the U.S?” I wondered with a sigh.

Well, just because prosecco isn’t on tap at the local bar doesn’t mean you can’t make it your house wine. With warmer weather coming, it’s a perfectly refreshing drink, with its subtle flavors of green apple, flowers and minerals, its soft bubbles and relatively low alcohol content. And it’s a very affordable wine too: it’s possible to find a satisfying bottle for $8 to $20 at most wine shops. Some readily available brands include Mionetto, Zonin, Nino Franco, Zardetto and Bisol.

The most famous prosecco cocktail is the peachy Bellini created back in the late 1940s by Giuseppe Cipriani and served ever since at Harry’s Bar in Venice. You’ll find prosecco is one of the most sociable sparkling wines around, mixing and mingling quite easily with a range of spring and summer fruits and flavors. I’m sure prosecco cocktails with strawberries, honeydew melon, lemons and peaches created by me and some creative people who love to entertain will help you live a festive, dolce vita style spring.

Strawberry Smash
This variation on the mojito lets you mix strawberries with your favorite herb such as mint, basil, lemon verbena, cilantro, rosemary or thyme. Be sure to try the drink out before serving it friends to get the amount of herbs dialed in to your taste buds. It’s tasty with the alcohol or without; for a totally non-alcoholic drink, use sparkling water instead of the prosecco.

3 ripe organic strawberries, hulled and sliced
6 leaves of one fresh herb such as mint, basil, verbena, cilantro OR 1-inch section of fresh rosemary or thyme
1 ounce good white rum like 10 Cane or clean white gin like Bombay Sapphire
1 ounce all-natural sour mix (see note)
2 ounces prosecco

Add the strawberries and your selected herb to a rocks glass. Smash the strawberries and herbs gently with a muddler until the berries are a pulp and the herbs smell strong. Add the rum or gin if using and sour mix to the glass and give it a stir. Fill 3/4 full with ice. Top off with the prosecco. Garnish with a sprig of the herb you used.

Note: To create my all natural sour mix, mix 1 cup lemon and or lime juice with 1 cup sugar in a medium non-reactive saucepan. Heat over a low-medium flame, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When cool, pour syrup into a sterile glass bottle and refrigerate. Keeps for up to 2 weeks.

To make the vanilla simple syrup, add 1-1/2 cups water and 1 cup sugar to a medium saucepan. Heat over a low-medium flame, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Toss in a vanilla pod slit lengthwise. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool. Remove the vanilla pods and set them aside. Pour the syrup in a sterile glass bottle. Keeps for up to 2 weeks.  (Once the vanilla pods are dry, bury them in your sugar cannister to make vanilla-scented sugar.)

By Maria Hunt, author of The Bubbly Bar: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion

See-Through Sangria
This recipe was inspired by a drink Denise Gee created for her gorgeous book Southern Cocktails. It’s a very light and refreshing take on a white sangria, without the brandy that can make sangrias so potent.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

1 bottle prosecco
1/2 cup Cointreau
1/4 cup sugar
1 unpeeled lime, thinly sliced and seeded
1 unpeeled lemon, thinly sliced and seeded
1 small unpeeled orange, thinly sliced and seeded
1-1/2 cups fresh organic strawberries, hulled and sliced
1-1/2 cups green grapes, sliced in half
2 cups chilled sparkling water or club soda or more to taste
several small whole strawberries with stems, for garnish

Combine the wine, Cointreau, sugar and fruit in a large pitcher and refrigerate overnight. Pour into cocktail glasses filled with ice and top off with club soda. For the garnish, slit the bottoms of the whole strawberries and place one on the rim of each glass.

From Southern Cocktails by Denise Gee, Chronicle Books, 2007.

Prosecco, limoncello and homemade natural sour mix create a sparkling twist on the Lemon Drop.

Prosecco, limoncello and homemade natural sour mix create a sparkling twist on the Lemon Drop.

The Lemon Pop
My friend Rob uses his homemade limoncello made with organic Meyer lemons from Sonoma, California for this variation on the Lemon Drop. He originally created it with Iron Horse Blanc de Blancs, but it’s also great with a certain Italian sparkler.

Makes 1 cocktail

2 slices fresh lemon
1/2 ounce limoncello
1/2 ounce all-natural sour mix (see note above)
4 ounces prosecco

Use the lemon slice to moisten the edge of your champagne flute or coupe. Put the sugar on a flat saucer. Press the  rim of the glass into the sugar to make a frosted rim.

Carefully add the limoncello, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and the natural sour mix to the prepared glass. Top with prosecco. Garnish with the remaining lemon slice and serve.
By Rob Akins and Maria Hunt aka The Bubbly Girl

Lavender and Peach Bellini
This cool twist on the classic peach nectar and prosecco cocktail from Harry’s Bar in Venice comes from Linnea Johansson, a top New York City party planner. If peaches aren’t quite in season (please don’t use hard ones from Chile) pick up peach nectar in the juice aisle of your favorite supermarket. Dried lavender is available at most organic grocery stores or plant some in your garden!

Makes 1 cocktail
1 part peach puree (say 2 ounces)
2 parts prosecco (4 ounces)
1 pinch edible, non-toxic dried lavender

Add the peach puree to the bottom of a champagne flute. Carefully add the prosecco. Don’t stir, but use a soon to carefully pull the puree up along the sides of the glass, so you don’t lose the bubbles. Garnish with the lavender.

From Perfect Parties by Linnea Johansson, Skyhorse Publishing, 2007.

Spring Green
Honeydew melon, mint and a bit of vanilla make this a very original and fragrant cocktail inspired by a drink called The Lawn Mower that L.A. caterer Nicole Aloni included in her book The Backyard Bartender. This version uses a vanilla syrup instead of vanilla vodka to keep it on the lighter side.
Makes 2 cocktails

1 cup diced honeydew or similar melon
1 ounce vanilla bean infused simple syrup (See Note)
1/2 fresh lime
1/2 ounce all natural sour mix (see Note again)
1 tablespoon roughly chopped mint, plus a couple whole leaves
1/2 cup (4 ounces) Prosecco

Juice the melon or puree in a blender, adding a little water if necessary to get things going. Strain the melon puree through a fine mesh tea strainer into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Add the vanilla bean syrup, a good squeeze of lime juice, the all natural sour mix and chopped mint to the cocktail shaker and shake vigorously 20 to 30 times. Strain equal portions of the mixture into two champagne flutes. Top each one with 1/4 cup of the prosecco. Garnish each drink with a mint leaf and serve.
Adapted from The Backyard Bartender by Nicole Aloni, Clarkson Potter, 2007.